Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, has said that it is “deeply regrettable” that implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has been delayed, noting the implications it has for former students who are now frail and elderly and might not have a chance to share their experiences.
There has been no word from the federal government on how the TRC’s work, stalled by the sudden resignation on Oct. 20 of its chair, Justice Harry LaForme, is going to commence. Last November it appointed former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci to help parties to the residential schools agreement to move forward.
No details have been released on how the new chair is going to be chosen and when. Another question that has arisen is whether the clock will be turned back since the TRC, which has a five-year mandate (beginning June 2008), has not even begun its work, but the clock is ticking.
Aboriginal groups have also been wondering whether the size and composition of the body will be revised since the first arrangement proved to be problematic. Mr. LaForme resigned after saying the two other members of the TRC “repeatedly and openly rejected” his authority and vision for the commission. The two commissioners denied his allegations.
“It is imperative that matters at hand be resolved,” Archbishop Hiltz said in his New Year’s Day message. “With many others I believe this commission represents hope for healing and new life on the part of students and staff who will have opportunity to tell of their experiences in the schools. It also represents a commitment on the part of this nation that, in acknowledging their legacy, we will say with one voice that never again can we treat people as we treated aboriginal people.”