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Iacobucci to facilitate truth and reconciliation

By staff on December, 01 2008

Justice Harry LaForme, former chair of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci has agreed to act as facilitator to the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), in the wake of the sudden resignation on Oct. 20 of its chair, Justice Harry LaForme. 

Counsel for parties to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), including the Anglican Church of Canada, announced that Mr. Iacobucci would assist the parties in “moving forward.”

Mr. Iacobucci represented the federal government in the negotiations that led to the signing of the residential schools agreement in May 2006.

“Justice Iacobucci has, through his work on the IRSSA, made an enormous contribution towards achieving a fair, comprehensive and lasting resolution of the legacy of Indian Residential Schools,” said a joint statement of the counsels representing government, native groups, and churches, which are party to the agreement.

Various groups, including the Anglican Church of Canada, expressed concern that Mr. LaForme, who was chosen as chair on April 28, said that the TRC was “on the verge of paralysis” because the two commissioners have “repeatedly and openly rejected” his authority and vision for the commission.

“The two commissioners are unprepared to accept that the structure of the commission requires that the TRC’s course is to be charted and its objectives are to be shaped ultimately through the leadership and authority of its chair,” said Mr. LaForme in a letter to Chuck Strahl, the minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

He added that the two commissioners – Jane Brewin-Morley and Claudette Dumont-Smith – do not share his interpretation that the TRC’s mandate emphasizes reconciliation. He said that they “see the TRC as primarily a truth commission. Unlike mine, theirs is a view that leaves much of the work of reconciliation for another day.”

Ms. Brewin-Morely and Ms. Dumont-Smith have reacted to Mr. La Forme’s allegations with shock, saying they could have resolved internally whatever differences he thought they might have had.

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said it was “unfortunate” that Mr. LaForme resigned.

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December, 01 2008
Categories:  National News

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