TRC breakthrough welcomed, but church apologizes for delays

The Anglican Church of Canada has welcomed a breakthrough in the re-establishment of the long-awaited Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools, but apologized to survivors for long delays in allowing them to tell their stories.

Mr. Justice Frank Iacobucci, appointed by the federal government to get the TRC back on the rails following the resignation of its chair late last year, announced on the weekend that a process had been agreed to that would reconstitute the TRC with new members.

Archdeacon Michael Pollesel, General Secretary of the Anglican General Synod, welcomed the breakthrough.

“We give thanks for this positive forward movement on the road to healing and reconciliation but we also want to offer our sincere apologies to those who have been affected by this unexpected and unforeseen delay in the TRC process,” Archdeacon Pollesel said.

“We apologize most especially to the families of the survivors who have died while waiting for the opportunity to tell their own stories. We continue to pray for a swift resumption of the TRC process and for the possibility it affords the survivors and, indeed, all Canadians to experience true healing and reconciliation as we look towards the dawning of a new era.”

Mr. Justice Iacobucci issued the following statement on the weekend:

“On behalf of the parties named below, I wish to announce their unanimous agreement on the following matters:

“1. Clarification on the governance roles of the Chair and the Commissioners;

“2. A process for and membership on a Selection Committee for the selection of, with the resignation of Commissioners Jane Brewin Morley and Claudette Dumont-Smith and the prior resignation of former Chair Mr. Justice Harry LaForme, their replacements;

“3. The Selection Committee will consist of:
– Phil Fontaine, representative plaintiff and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, on behalf of the AFN and the Metis National Council;
– Mary Simon, President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, on behalf of the Inuit representatives;
– Michael Wernick, Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs, on behalf of the Government of Canada;
– James Scott, on behalf of The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and The United Church of Canada;
– Pierre Baribeau, on behalf of the Catholic entities;
– Len Marchand, on behalf of claimants under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement;
– The Honourable Frank Iacobucci, as Chair.

“4. The Selection Committee will begin its task immediately so that the new TRC Commission can commence its work as soon as practically possible.

“5. The Selection Committee will welcome nominations of individuals to serve as Commissioners and will consider additional candidates on its own. In seeking to obtain persons of recognized integrity, stature and respect to serve as Commissioners, the Selection Committee will establish its procedures for doing so effectively, keeping in mind the importance of completing its task as soon as possible.

“Following the resignation of the Chair of the TRC, I was appointed as Facilitator for the parties to help resolve the TRC’s difficulties. I was not asked to assign blame or criticize any of those who have been involved in the TRC’s work and accordingly I refrain from doing so. Mr. Justice Harry LaForme’s decision to resign is entitled to be respected. Consequently I do not wish to comment on that in any way.

“In acting as Facilitator for the parties, I wish to thank Commissioner Morley and Commissioner Dumont-Smith for their services to the TRC. They are people of integrity and goodwill and acted conscientiously in carrying out their duties as Commissioners. I should also note that the sole reason that the Commissioners are resigning is because they believe that making a fresh start is in the best interests of furthering the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I would also add that everyone who has been involved with the TRC has demonstrated a strong commitment to ensure that the TRC will work as effectively as possible. In that connection, I do not believe that any of the parties named below or their representatives improperly influenced or attempted to interfere with the work of the TRC.

“Finally, I wish to acknowledge and thank the parties below for the collaborative and constructive approach in dealing with the issues they faced and in reaching the agreement outlined above. All of their efforts demonstrate their united resolve to make the TRC and its mission as effective and successful as possible because truth and reconciliation together is a cornerstone not only for the closure of the unfortunate Indian Residential Schools legacy but also a pathway to greater goodwill, respect, healing and harmony between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

– Assembly of First Nations, National Chief Phil Fontaine and Metis National Council represented by John Kingman Phillips, counsel to the National Chief Phil Fontaine and the Assembly of First Nations and Kathleen Mahoney, Lead Negotiator, Assembly of First Nations.

– Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, Nunavut Tunngavik, Incorporated, Makivik Corporation, and Nunatsiavut Government, represented by Steven Foulds, counsel and James Moore, Executive Director, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

– The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada and The United Church of Canada. represented by the Ven. Dr. Michael Pollesel, The Anglican Church of Canada; the Reverend Stephen Kendall, The Presbyterian Church in Canada; the Reverend James V. Scott, The United Church of Canada; Alexander Pettingill, counsel.

– The Catholic entities, represented by Pierre Baribeau, counsel.

– The Government of Canada, represented by Paul Vickery, counsel, Catherine Coughlan, counsel and Alan Farrer, claimant.

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