The Government of Canada is continuing the work of righting past wrongs, especially those involving Indigenous children.
Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Île-à-la-Crosse Steering Committee and the Métis Nation of Saskatchewan signed a Memorandum of Understanding to begin to collaboratively chart a path forward to address the legacy of the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School.
The Minister met with parties at the Back to Batoche Festival in Saskatchewan over the weekend, marking an important first step in opening dialogue between parties on how to address the Boarding School’s painful legacy in a manner that advances reconciliation and healing.
The MOU will foster an open exchange of ideas and information, the frank discussion of interests, and explore options to resolve the legacy of the Boarding School. Through this process, the Parties are hopeful that options can be agreed upon and supported, including addressing the immediate needs of survivors.
The Government of Canada is committed to resolving Childhood Claims outside of the courts. Canada’s goal is to work in close collaboration with the Parties toward addressing the legacy of the Île-à-la-Crosse Boarding School in a fair, compassionate, and respectful manner.
“The mistreatment of Indigenous children is tragic and unacceptable. Today marks a first step toward seeking justice and healing for former students of Île-à-la-Crosse and making amends for past wrongs against the Métis. We look forward to opening the dialogue with the Parties toward addressing the legacy of Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“This has been a heart-wrenching journey for our survivors and families of those students who have passed. We have had promises from other governments over the years that never came to fruition and we approach this with cautious optimism. However, we have built a respectful, honest relationship with Minister Bennett and officials and we have achieved respect in several areas and I expect we will in this as well.”
Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school was operated by the Province of Saskatchewan and the Catholic Church from 1906 to 1976. Former students of the school were not eligible for compensation under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, as the school was never federally operated or administered.
Former Île-à-la-Crosse students filed a class action against the Government of Canada and Province of Saskatchewan in 2005. Plaintiffs allege that both governments are responsible for the sexual abuse, physical abuse, cultural abuse, isolation, and mental and emotional abuse that former students endured while attending the Boarding School.
The MOU commits parties to exploratory discussions to address the legacy of the Île-à-la-Crosse boarding school. The parties welcome the participation of the Province of Saskatchewan in the discussions.