MY RECORDS, MY CHOICE
If you made a claim in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) or the Alternative Dispute Resolution process (ADR), this information is for you.
Your IAP or ADR records are private and confidential
- Your records are being kept safe and secure at the IAP Secretariat.
- You may decide to share them, or to keep them private.
- You have 15 years after the end of your claim, to decide.
- If you do not decide to share your documents, they will be destroyed after 15 years.
The choice is yours
- If you want your records to stay private, you do not need to do anything. The Chief Adjudicator will keep them secure for 15 years after the end of your claim. Then they will be destroyed.
- If you want to share your records with anyone, you may do so.
- If you want to add them to a special collection of Indian Residential School records, keep reading to learn more.
(“IAP” is the Independent Assessment Process. “ADR” is the earlier Alternative Dispute Resolution process.)
Preserving the history of Indian Residential Schools
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has been created at the University of Manitoba to preserve the history of Canada’s residential school system. This collection is called an “archive.”
It already includes millions of records from federal government departments and Library and Archives Canada, such as:
- Statements given to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) by thousands of former students
- Historical documents from the earliest days of residential schools, including records of students and staff
- Records from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
The Centre invites those who made a claim in the IAP or ADR to add their records to this archive. The archive will be available forever, to researchers and others who want to learn about the history of Canada’s Indian residential schools.
If you decide to share your records, information that identifies other people will be removed, to respect everyone’s privacy.
Which records are being kept?
Four types of records are being kept safe for 15 years:
- Your application form (to the IAP or ADR)
- The audio recording of your testimony
- The transcript of that recording
- The adjudicator’s decision on your claim
Other documents are automatically destroyed after your claim is concluded. These include your medical, education, and employment records and other documents used in deciding your claim.
How can I share my records?
The Secretariat will send the transcript of your testimony and your decision to you if you give your consent in writing. You are free to do what you want with these records, including giving them to the archive.
If you want the Secretariat to send your records to the archive, a special consent form is being developed and will be available soon.
What if I want my privacy protected?
The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat, where all the records are held, will keep them safely and securely.
- After 15 years from the end of your claim, your application form, the recording and transcript of your testimony, and your decision will be destroyed.
- At the end of your claim your other documents (medical records, and so on) will be destroyed.
You don’t need to do anything. Your privacy is automatically protected.
When do I have to decide?
You have 15 years from when your claim is concluded. That means after any reviews (appeals) and everything else is finished.
The first ADR decisions were made in August 2004. The 15-year waiting period for those cases will start to expire in August 2019.
If you want to consider preserving your records, you should check the date of your decision (or final review or re-review decision) and determine when your 15 years will run out.
You do not have to wait for 15 years. You may ask for your transcript and decision at any time before then, and may do anything you want with them, including giving them to the archive. Once the special consent form is ready, you can complete it and we will send all your records to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation if you want them preserved.
What do the Courts say about privacy?
What happens to confidential records when they are no longer needed for your claim? In 2013 the TRC and the Chief Adjudicator asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to answer that question.
The Court agreed with the Chief Adjudicator that promises of confidentiality must be kept. The Court ordered that most IAP documents (medical records, and so on) must be destroyed after a case is concluded. But the four types of records listed above (IAP application, audio recording of your testimony, transcript of your testimony, and the adjudicator's decision) must be kept for 15 years. This gives claimants time to decide if they want their records to be preserved.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario was asked to reconsider the question. That Court came to the same answer, but added that records from the ADR process would be treated the same way.
In October 2017, all seven judges of the Supreme Court of Canada who heard Canada’s appeal agreed. They confirmed that claimants have control over their own records from the IAP or ADR.
Why is privacy important?
Many claimants agreed to tell their story in the IAP only after they were promised that their privacy would be protected. And privacy also was promised to others who are identified in claims, including:
- Adults and students who were accused of abuse
- Witnesses who volunteered to testify
- Family and community members whose personal stories may have been discussed in documents, or at the hearing
Many of these people never knew they were mentioned in an IAP claim. Anyone who was accused of abuse was notified—if they could be identified and found. But many have passed away or were too old or frail, or had their own reasons for not testifying. Some were children themselves at the time, and may have also been victims of abuse.
How will archived records be used?
The records gathered in the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation archive will be used for research, education, and promoting Indigenous rights.
The NCTR will make some Residential School records accessible on a limited basis if the owner of the records has given consent. The NCTR will respect privacy laws and cultural access protocols. All records will be cared for under a strict access to information and protection of privacy program at the University of Manitoba.
For more information, please contact:
- By email: NCTRrecords@umanitoba.ca
- By telephone: 204-474-6069
- By mail: Chancellor's Hall, 177 Dysart Rd., Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2
Can I change my mind?
Yes. You have 15 years from the end of your claim, to decide what should be done with your records.
If you decide to share them with the archive, you still may change your mind.
- If they are still with the IAP Secretariat, they will not be sent to the NCTR archive.
- If they are already at the archive, they will be removed (although they may have already been shared by that time).
How will claimants learn about their choices?
The Supreme Court of Canada gave the Chief Adjudicator responsibility for making sure that claimants have the information they need, to make good decisions about their records.
His office is working on a program to make that information available to claimants and their families and communities.
Meanwhile, you can find information about sharing your records at the archive’s website.
The Chief Adjudicator is independent and neutral. He will not try to persuade claimants either to share their documents or not.
How to get a copy of your IAP records
You have the right to get a copy of your records if you wish. You might want to look at them before deciding whether you want them sent to the archive. It is for you to decide what to do with the records you receive.
Names and identifying information about other people will be removed from the documents sent to you, to respect their privacy.
You can request your records by writing to the IAP Secretariat:
- By mail: Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat, 900 - 2010 12th Ave Regina, Saskatchewan, S4P 0M3
- By e-mail: IAPRecords_DocumentsSAPI@irsad-sapi.gc.ca
- By fax: 306-790-4800
It can take several months to receive a transcript.
Here are some documents that contain more information about IAP records and the questions of privacy and sharing:
- Decision, Supreme Court of Canada, October 6, 2017
- Decision, Court of Appeal for Ontario, April 4, 2016
- Decision, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, August 6, 2014
- Affidavit of Phil Fontaine, May 1, 2014
- Affidavit of privacy expert David Flaherty, May 2, 2014
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation