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Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was created in order to help "restore justice to the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada and to propose practical solutions to stubborn problems." Established in 1991, the commission examined the relationships between the government and Indigenous Canadians and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians and advised the government on their findings.

After four years of consultation, testimony and research studies, including 178 days of public hearings, 96 community visits, the final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was released in 1996. As part of the report's long list of recommendations were three calling for a public inquiry into residential schools:


Under Part I of the Public Inquiries Act, the government of Canada establish a public inquiry instructed to 

(a) investigate and document the origins and effects of residential school policies and practices respecting all Aboriginal peoples, with particular attention to the nature and extent of effects on subsequent generations of individuals and families, and on communities and Aboriginal societies; 

(b) conduct public hearings across the country with sufficient funding to enable the testimony of affected persons to be heard; 

(c) commission research and analysis of the breadth of the effects of these policies and practices; 

(d) investigate the record of residential schools with a view to the identification of abuse and what action, if any, is considered appropriate; and 

(e) recommend remedial action by governments and the responsible churches deemed necessary by the inquiry to relieve conditions created by the residential school experience, including as appropriate, 

  • apologies by those responsible;
  • compensation of communities to design and administer programs that help the healing process and rebuild their community life; and 
  • funding for treatment of affected individuals and their families.


A majority of commissioners appointed to this public inquiry be Aboriginal.


The government of Canada fund establishment of a national repository of records and video collections related to residential schools, co-ordinated with planning of the recommended Aboriginal Peoples' International University (see Volume 3, Chapter 5) and its electronic clearinghouse, to

  • facilitate access to documentation and electronic exchange of research on residential schools;
  • provide financial assistance for the collection of testimony and continuing research;
  • work with educators in the design of Aboriginal curriculum that explains the history and effects of residential schools; and 
  • conduct public education programs on the history and effects of residential schools and remedies applied to relieve their negative effects.


The Commission and its report also addressed reconciliation and the future relationship between the government of Canada and Indigenous. This led the government to release Gathering Strength — Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan, which included a Statement of Reconciliation.