OTTAWA – The Auditor General found concerns in the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Ministry. In the House of Commons, NDP Leader Thomas Muclair sought answers from Prime Minister Harper. “Five years after the residential schools apology, the Conservatives are not taking this and many other matters seriously. A number of departments are still refusing to provide the Truth and Reconciliation Commission with important documents related to the residential schools. Today, the Auditor General strongly condemned this lack of co-operation. The commission’s mandate will come to an end in 15 months. Will the Prime Minister commit today, here in the House, to immediately hand over these documents?
The Prime Minister responded, “In 2008, I made a historic apology concerning residential schools on behalf of all Canadians. To date, federal departments have handed over more than 3.5 million documents to the commission. The process is ongoing and the government will continue to give documents to the commission.
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Statement
Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, issued the following statement today in response to the release of the Office of the Auditor General’s report:
“The Government of Canada is committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools. That is why the Prime Minister made an historic apology on behalf of all Canadians in 2008, and it is why, to date, we have provided over 3.5 million documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). All of these documents have been digitally scanned and provided to the TRC in electronic format to aid in the creation of a permanent historical record of the residential schools legacy for current and future generations of Canadians.
“Last week, on the occasion of the TRC’s national event in Montreal, I met with the TRCCommissioners and reaffirmed our government’s commitment to reconciliation between Aboriginal people, their families and all Canadians, and to working with the TRC to fulfill Canada’s obligations under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). I also had the honour of meeting with a group of residential school survivors and youth, and had the opportunity to tour the Learning Place to learn more about Quebec’s residential schools and the effect they had on the lives of Aboriginal children.
“The report released today by the Office of the Auditor General acknowledges some of the steps that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has taken to fulfill its obligations under the IRSSA.
“We agree with the Auditor General that Canada and the TRC can work more closely together to ensure the objectives of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are met, and we are working jointly with the Commission to develop a project plan to fulfill document disclosure requirements.
“I also extended to the TRC an invitation to participate in a focused education consultation so that the government’s proposed education legislation benefits from the insights gleaned by the Commission through its hearings across Canada.
Our government has been, and will continue to be, guided by the principle that working together is the best way to achieve the healing and reconciliation that the implementation of the IRSSA is intended to achieve. This is a goal I know is shared by the TRC and I look forward to our next meeting so that we can build on our discussion last week as we work toward this important objective.”