n. — originally Politics
the commission whose mandate it was to uncover the full truth about residential schools as a first step towards reconciliation.
Type: 4. Culturally Significant — When the last Indian residential school closed in 1996, allegations by former students of violence, abuse, neglect and mistreatment had already begun to surface. As residential schools were government-funded and run by religious institutions, many survivors launched individual lawsuits against the federal government and several church organizations. These cases led to the creation of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. As part of this agreement, $60 million was set aside for the creation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), with a five year mandate ending in 2015 to collect testimonies from all those involved in and affected by the residential school system. The goals of the TRC, among others, were to prepare a complete historical record surrounding residential schools and to establish a national research centre that will continue to educate Canadians about the legacy of residential schools. The overarching purpose is to allow for and facilitate the process of reconciliation between those affected by residential schools and those responsible for them (see TRC reference).
The term Truth and Reconciliation Commission is not unique to Canada. It has been used in multiple contexts, including in post-dictatorship Chile in the early 1990s, and, perhaps most prominently in the global context, in post-apartheid South Africa.
The TRC method is a form of transitional justice that is "focussed on the future while it reviews the past" (Walker 2009: 3). It is a non-traditional method of pursuing justice that is employed after a long period of human rights abuses that affect a large number of individuals and groups, making traditional court-justice procedures difficult, long, and cost-prohibitive for the victims (Walker 2009: 3). One of the first, and certainly the most famous, Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the one that took place in post-apartheid South Africa (see evidence of the prevalence of the term in South Africa in Chart 1).
See also: residential school residential school survivor reconciliation week reconciliation
- The references to the TRC in South Africa (see Chart 1) are most likely to that country's TRC.
- 1998  [Buffalo said that in her meeting with Robinson, she compared the reserves in Canada with the homelands of South Africa and noted that "South Africa has a truth and reconciliation commission" to examine the impact of apartheid policies of the past.
"We've only had an apology for the damage done in the residential schools and I told her a public inquiry is needed," said Buffalo.]
- 2000  An apology spurned is like someone spitting in your face. So when Matthew Coon Come, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, announced he would not accept a sweeping apology from church leadership for sins that occurred at residential schools, it was a watershed moment.
The chief, a devout Christian, said that to defuse anger and the possibility of militant action over treaty rights and residential-school lawsuits, nothing less than a two-part solution would do. Mr. Coon Come wants a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission created by order in council, a national forum where it would be safe for anyone to vent with immunity, a place where all parties could tell their stories so we could all be educated. He's also asking for individual Canadians to make a significant move and go to the Indians of this land to apologize personally.
- 2000  Players in the residential school abuse tragedy want the federal cabinet to consider a "truth and reconciliation commission" as an option to curb an increasing number of lawsuits now threatening churches with financial ruin.
Insiders say cabinet is assessing a number of ways to balance the bankruptcy fears of Canada's largest church organizations with redress for victims of a federal assimilation policy the churches administered to native children.
- 2006  The federal government has announced it will launch a "truth and reconciliation" commission to record the legacy of Indian residential schools, originally a means by which Ottawa sought to assimilate First Nations children.
- 2013  The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established to gather testimony on survivors’ experiences of the Indian Residential Schools. From the 18th to the 21st of September 2013, the Commission will be conducting the last of its west coast National Events in Vancouver. UBC has taken the extraordinary step of suspending classes on September 18th so that students, faculty, and other members of the UBC community might more fully participate in this historic event and the other events around the city supporting it.
- 2016  We are a country that has been denounced by senators, chief justices and former prime ministers as being genocidal in its treatment of indigenous people. We are a country that ran residential schools for more than 150 years.
Together, one year into the implementation of the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), we are a country that is making promising gains, but still has much work to do in terms of righting past wrongs.
Chart 1: Internet Domain Search, 22 Jun. 2016