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No healing without Foundation, says TRC chair

By Marites N. Sison, staff writer on April, 01 2011

Residential school survivors "are literally without the capacity to continue the healing work that they've started" without the support of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, says TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair. Photo: Marites N. Sison  

The loss of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which is winding down operations this spring, is “tremendous,” according to Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, Justice Sinclair warned that residential school survivors “are literally without the capacity to continue the healing work that they’ve started.” The loss, he explained, has resulted in “further anger, further distress, and further alienation of survivors and their families towards the government.” It also has affected the work of the TRC. “The loss adds to our burden when it comes to sponsoring community events because now communities are looking for greater assistance,” said Justice Sinclair.

Last year, the federal government decided that funding for the foundation would not be renewed after March 31, 2010. At that time, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl told Parliament that the decision did not mean that the federal government was ending its support for survivors. Instead, it committed $199 million to Health Canada for programs that provide mental health and emotional support services for former students and their families. “The Healing Foundation has done good work, but it was never meant to be a permanent policy, a permanent service deliverer of the federal government,” the CBC quoted Strahl as saying.

The foundation, which is aboriginal-managed, was established in 1998 and was provided with a one-time grant of $350 million by the federal government as part an action plan aimed at renewing Canada’s relationship with its aboriginal people. Since then, the foundation has funded 134 community-based healing initiatives.

Meanwhile, the TRC has announced that, beginning March 15, it will hold hearings in 19 communities throughout Nunavik, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon. The hearings will lead up to the second TRC National Event, scheduled June 28 to July 1 in Inuvik. 

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April, 01 2011
Categories:  News|National News

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