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Commission taking feds to court over residential schools documents

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OTTAWA — The Truth and Reconciliation Commission trying to record the history of residential schools is going to court later this month to force Ottawa to turn over federal documents on the subject.

TRC chairman Murray Sinclair, on leave as a Manitoba judge, said the TRC's mandate under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is to collect all the documents available so they are available to Canadians.

However, despite repeated requests not all federal departments have complied.

Lawyer Julian Falconer said Canada has provided about one million documents but that is only a "half loaf" of what exists and is not good enough.

The TRC particularly mentioned archival documents from Library and Archives Canada among those not yet made available.

Its case will be heard in Ontario Superior Court on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21.

More than 150,000 aboriginal children were forced into residential schools between the 1880s and early 1980s, as Canada embarked on a mission of assimilation. The schools were run by the churches for the government. Many students told stories of physical and sexual abuse and the imprint of residential schools is still largely blamed for the rampant social problems facing aboriginal Canadians today.

In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of the government of Canada for the saga of residential schools.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was approved by the courts in 2007 as the result of a class-action suit by survivors of residential schools. In addition to establishing the TRC, the settlement offered compensation to survivors as well as additional compensation to victims of abuse.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10:01 AM CST: Added link.

10:04 AM: Added art.

11:36 AM: added link

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