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Funding yet to be secured for additional year.

WINNIPEG

The parties of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement have consented to add one more year to the mandate of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but funding for that extra year is in question.

"The money spent prior to our taking office has not yet been replenished. There was an expenditure of a few million dollars. We are taking steps to have the entire budget of the TRC made whole, effective the date of our appointment," said TRC chair Murray Sinclair.

The commission, headed by Sinclair with commissioners Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson, requested the five-year mandate kick in with their appointments instead of the appointments of the initial TRC commissioners. The initial appointments ended with the resignation of the first chair in October 2008 and its two commissioners in January 2009. Sinclair's commission took over July 1,2009. With the extension, the TRC's work will end on June 30, 2014.

Sinclair said the settlement agreement was not amended, so court approval was not required.

"The settlement agreement provided that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission commissioners would be appointed for their term by the Government of Canada so ... that (determined) that period of time," said Sinclair.

Where the funding for the additional year will come from is unclear. Authorization for the initial funding was subject to a Financial Administration Act order by the federal government.

Sinclair said there are two options for the additional dollars: the parties to the settlement agreement could contribute more dollars, or money could be drawn from the $4 billion compensation fund set up by the court.

The fund was established to pay out damages awarded under the Common Experience Payment (CEP) and the Independent Assessment Program (AIP); to provide additional dollars to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; to finance commemoration projects; and to carry out the work of the TRC. CEP and IAP dollars are to be automatically replenished by the Presbyterian, Anglican, United and Catholic churches and the federal government.

"The TRC money came out of the survivors' compensation fund and therefore that's where any changes to it have to be addressed," said Sinclair.

Deadlines for various reports were based on when the commission started and were set out by the settlement agreement. Those deadlines have been altered, also through the consent of the parties. However, the delivery of the final report was established by the agreement to be in 2013. The TRC is asking for a year's extension, and this request is still under discussion, said Sinclair.

The secretariat is expected to keep operating in the final year, but the Residential School Survivors Advisory Committee will likely not be as active. Sinclair noted that once the national events wrap up (the last one is scheduled for 2013) and the commemoration work is completed, the survivors' committee's workload would decrease.

"In the last year of operations of the commission we're in a winding down phase so a lot of our expenses are going to be reduced during that time," said Sinclair.

By Shari Narine

Windspeoker Contributor

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Author:Narine, Shari
Publication:Windspeaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Apr 1, 2011
Words:502
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