Despite the wide scope of approaches taken by the Canadian government to assist in the healing process as a result of the residential schools, further evaluation and view of correspondence with Aboriginals proves that these measures may not have been as effective as they seem. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology on June 11, 2008 symbolized a major step in acknowledging a national sense of shame for the terrible things inflicted upon Aboriginal youth in residential schools. However, the nature of the agreement was intended to be holistic and address numerous levels of trauma and loss, but in reality these efforts have fallen short. In particular, upon discovering how Aboriginal survivors engaged in the process have responded leaves the effects on Aboriginal identity and wellbeing up for debate. Previously established in 2007 to assist in healing with the Aboriginal schools was the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (RSSA). This agreement allowed for residential school survivors to apply for the Common Experience Payment (CEP), the Independent Assessment Process and other healing measures. Also as a part of this Agreement was the instatement of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), which began in 2008. Identity and wellbeing are determined in this paper by how well the compensation methods contributed to or impacted a survivor’s overall satisfaction, self-esteem, health, happiness or prosperity (Reimer et al. 2010: xi). The CEP was intended to provide monetary compensation for those who were abused and experienced trauma in the residential schools, and the TRC was intended as a more holistic compensation approach to supplement monetary payments as seen in the CEP.
The Common Experience Payment
The CEP was the first component of the RSSA that offers all survivors of residential schools a common experience payment for having attended the institutions. It is commonly to as a payment process not a payment, as when a survivor has filled out a CEP application form, they may either receive payment or learn their application has been denied, and choose to pursue reconsideration (Reimer et al. 2010: ix). As many survivors are unsatisfied with their allotted payment or lack of payment, they choose continue the process by applying for reconsideration, and if they are still unsatisfied they may attempt appeal. The CEP application itself is a four-page form requiring various information to help Indian Residential School Resolution Canada (IRSRC) verify years of attendance at one or more recognized schools, and they are initially administered by Service Canada and then sent to IRSRC to be verified (Reimer et al. 2010: ix). When they are finished being processed, Service Canada mails decision letters and provides payment (Reimer et al. 2010: ix).
The effects of this compensation method on Aboriginal peoples’ wellbeing and identity may be the most controversial due the opinion of First Nations peoples and the contrasting Euro-Canadian...