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Standing Rock

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Judge rules against destruction of residential school records

Judge rules against destruction of residential school records  By Kathleen Martens
 APTN Investigates

WINNIPEG – A Toronto judge has agreed to lock up sensitive residential school student testimony for 15 years.
Justice Paul Perell of the Ontario Superior Court ruled in a decision released yesterday (Aug. 6) that the records will be destroyed after that time period unless survivors individually decide they want theirs saved.
What is not up to survivors, however, is whether the names of alleged abusers are blacked out. The judge ruled those names will be redacted whether survivors want them identified or not.
Those alleged abusers are people who worked at the schools or other students.
Survivors’ records would be kept at the National Research Centre on Residential Schools at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
Perell’s decision comes after two parties in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSAS) asked him for direction last month. They were: the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which wants all the information saved for a complete record on the legacy of residential schools; and the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat (IRSAS), which wants the testimony destroyed.
The judge said survivors can opt in or opt out of the record keeping. He then charged the TRC with collecting survivors’ responses.
The TRC had asked the judge for a 30-year waiting period, while IRSAS wanted survivor testimony destroyed immediately. Its senior adjudicator Dan Shapiro said survivors were guaranteed confidentiality so they would reveal as much information as possible to prove their financial claims for abuse.
Both parties have different mandates under IRSAS: the TRC’s is to gather survivors’ stories publicly and use them for educational and historical purposes, while IRSAS is to process abuse claims under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).
IRSAS says it has accumulated about 800,000 pieces of information from nearly 38,000 IAP claims. These include IAP forms, transcripts and audio recordings of hearings, decisions, and tens of thousands of supporting medical, education, employment, corrections and other personal records.
Justice Perell is one of the nine supervising judges of the IRSSA.

As APTN Investigates has reported in this story, some survivors favour saving their stories so their suffering is not forgotten. The entire 68-page decision can be read on the website of Ontario lawyer, Julian Falconer.
Shapiro responded to the decision in a written statement, saying he was pleased with Justice Perell’s decision.

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Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

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Thought-provoking and moving 11 October 2012
Two Worlds - Lost children of the Indian Adoption Projects

If you thought that ethnic cleansing was something for the history books, think again. This work tells the stories of Native American Indian adoptees "The Lost Birds" who continue to suffer the effects of successive US and Canadian government policies on adoption; policies that were in force as recently as the 1970's. Many of the contributors still bear the scars of their separation from their ancestral roots. What becomes apparent to the reader is the reality of a racial memory that lives in the DNA of adoptees and calls to them from the past.
The editors have let the contributors tell their own stories of their childhood and search for their blood relatives, allowing the reader to gain a true impression of their personalities. What becomes apparent is that nothing is straightforward; re-assimilation brings its own cultural and emotional problems. Not all of the stories are harrowing or sad; there are a number of heart-warming successes, and not all placements amongst white families had negative consequences. But with whom should the ultimate decision of adoption reside? Government authorities or the Indian people themselves? Read Two Worlds and decide for yourself.

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As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

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