Identifying Canada’s Indian Residential Schools

Identifying Canada’s Indian Residential Schools was challenging for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and remains challenging for us today.

The TRC recognized that the “Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) provides the most comprehensive listing of Canadian residential schools for Aboriginal people,” but also observed that “issues combine to complicate any attempt to list the schools on the Settlement Agreement with their opening and closing dates, location, and religious affiliations.”1Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Canada’s residential schools (volume 4): Missing children and unmarked burials, Appendix 1, pp. 139, 140. After doing its best to untangle this combination of issues, the TRC published its own lists of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.

We examine three stages of this historical process:

  1. Identification of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools in the original IRSSA
  2. Applications under Article 12
  3. Identification of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools in the TRC’s final report

To assist other researchers, we are publishing outputs from these stages as machine-readable, Tab-Separated-Value files.

Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) defined “Indian Residential Schools” as:

  1. Institutions attached as Schedule “E” (“Residential Schools”);
  2. Institutions listed in Schedule “F” (“Additional Residential
    Schools”) which may be expanded from time to time in
    accordance with Article 12.01 of this Agreement; and,
  3. Any institution which is determined to meet the criteria set out
    in Section 12.01(2) and (3) of this Agreement. (s. 1.01).

Schedule E listed institutions that had been identified as Indian Residential Schools during Alternative Dispute Resolution (2002-2006). Schedule F listed institutions that were added in negotiations leading up to the IRSSA (2006-2007). Article 12, permitted anyone to apply for other institutions to be added to the list of Canada’s Indian Residential School.2National Administration Committee, Report to the supervising courts, May 6, 2019, p. 101.

Schedule E listed 107 Indian Residential Schools on separate lines of a four page document. The Indian Residential Schools were arranged alphabetically, by their preferred names, within ten geographic regions. In many cases, an Indian Residential School’s preferred name was followed by other name(s) in parentheses. Sometimes the significance of these other names was clear (e. g. “X replaced Y” or “Y replaced by X”); however, more often their meaning was ambiguous.

Schedule F listed another 24 Indian Residential Schools on separate lines of a one page document.

We are publishing these 131 Indian Residential Schools, as they appeared in Schedules E and F of the original IRSSA, as a machine-readable, Tab-Separated-Value file.

Applications under Article 12

Article 12 permitted any person or organization (Requestor) to apply for an institution to be added to the list of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, by submitting the name of the institution and any relevant information to Canada.

Canada detailed its decisions regarding applications under Article 12 in periodic updates. We have recovered seven of these updates (one or more for every year 2008-2013), mainly from Internet Archive captures of the residential schools settlement website and a related class action services website.

We are publishing the last of these updates (March 28, 2013) as a machine-readable, Tab-Separated-Value file. For an analysis of this update, see Applications and Canada’s decisions under Article 12 (March 28, 2013).

Canada reported that a total of 9,471 Requestors had applied for 1,531 institutions to be added to the IRSSA between September 2007 and July 2015. Canada agreed to recognize six of these institutions as Indian Residential Schools. The courts ordered Canada to recognize another four institutions. Together with the original list, these additions meant that 141 Indian Residential Schools were covered by the IRSSA.

We are publishing these 141 Indian Residential Schools, as they appeared in the original IRSSA, and in the final disposition of applications under Article 12, as a machine-readable, Tab-Separated-Value file.

For a fuller discussion, see Applications and Canada’s decisions under Article 12.

For a discussion of Canada’s confusing – and sometimes inconsistent – claims about which institutions were Indian Residential Schools under the IRSSA, see AANDC’s “Recognized Institutions”.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commented extensively on the limitations and anomalies of Canada’s final list of Indian Residential Schools. The TRC used primary sources to overcome these difficulties as far as possible, and published two lists of its own:

We are publishing these 159 Indian Residential Schools, as they appeared in Appendices 1.1 and 1.2 of the TRC’s final report, as a machine-readable, Tab-Separated-Value (TSV) file.

Datasets

Let’s recap the datasets that we are publishing:

Credits

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If you use this work, please credit Paul Allen, paul@hartallen.com.


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