Most claimants in the Independent Assessment Process have a hearing to resolve their claim. The hearing is designed to be:
For many people, a hearing is not just a place to make a claim. It gives them the opportunity to have their story heard.
At the hearing, the Adjudicator asks you questions. The purpose of the questions is to:
After the hearing, the role of an Adjudicator is to assess the evidence in an objective and impartial way. Then, the Adjudicator decides if there should be an award and if so, how much it should be.
The Adjudicator's job is to make the hearing comfortable and non-threatening, so that you can safely be heard. The hearing is arranged so that you will never have to meet the people you say have abused you. During the hearing, the Adjudicator is the only person who will ask you questions.
We know that it can be very painful to talk about what happened. In many cases, people talk about it for the first time at their hearing. The Adjudicator works to build your trust and to make the hearing safe and supportive for you.
You will have access to counseling by Health Support Workers. There will also be an opportunity to request an Elder to attend your hearing, whether to say a prayer, perform a ceremony, or to hear your story and be a support to you. You may choose an Elder, or you may ask the Secretariat to arrange for one to attend. They do not have to stay for the entire hearing, based on your preference.
You may choose to have up to two additional personal support people attend your hearing.
You will have a lot of input into how your hearing is arranged. You can ask for an Adjudicator who is a man or a woman. The Application Form asks where you would like your hearing to be held. The Secretariat will try to schedule your hearing there provided that it’s not too expensive and won’t slow the process down.
You can choose how to open the hearing in a way that respects your beliefs and traditions. For instance, it could include a ceremony such as a smudge or sweet-grass ceremony, a prayer, or a song.
You are welcome to answer the Adjudicator's questions in your own language, with the help of an interpreter.
At a hearing, every person must take an oath to speak only the truth. You can choose to take an oath on the Bible, or use a sacred object such as an Eagle Feather, or simply affirm that you will speak the truth.
The hearing is held in private. The public and the media are not allowed to attend. Each person who attends the hearing must sign a confidentiality agreement. This means that what is said at the hearing stays private.
You can view the hearing process diagram here.
After your claim is admitted you will be asked about your preferences for your hearing. You will be asked about:
The Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat will do all it can to meet your requests, if they can be arranged in a way that is not too expensive and won't slow the process down. You can tell us about what is most important for you—for instance, if having your hearing as soon as possible is more important than where it is held.
If you would like to negotiate a settlement with Canada, you and your lawyer should send your request directly to Canada's representative. The contact information for Canada's negotiated settlement teams is on the Request for Hearing form (size: 80 KB – format: PDF).
The Secretariat schedules your hearing once we have received all of the documents needed from you and from Canada. This could include education records, workers' compensation reports, corrections records, tax information, and medical reports.
If you have to travel to attend the hearing, you need to get all of your arrangements and expenses pre-approved by the Secretariat up to a month before your hearing date. It’s important to do this early so that you have the money you need to travel comfortably. A Hearing Support Officer will contact you or your lawyer and help make the travel arrangements. Please make sure to tell them about any special needs you have.
All travel for hearings is paid for according to the Government of Canada's guidelines for travel. Your Hearing Support Officer can answer your questions about travel. You will get a summary of the expenses that will be covered. This usually includes travel, some meals, and accommodations. It also tells you what is not covered (for instance, hotel movies or extra meals).
The deadline to request a change to your hearing preferences and logistical requirements is two weeks. The Secretariat schedules several hundred hearings every month, so they cannot always accept requests for changes. After this deadline, they can only accept change requests for extreme emergencies.
If you need to make changes, please contact your Hearing Support Officer right away. Making changes to things like your travel arrangements or how you want to arrange the hearing can delay your hearing. Or, it might mean that someone else's hearing gets delayed. It can also create problems for people who are supposed to attend your hearing.
You may want to bring a friend or a family member either to hear your story or make you feel more comfortable at your hearing. The Secretariat will pay travel expenses for one or two people who you want to be with you for support during the hearing. The government will also pay travel expenses for the following people:
A Resolution Health Support Worker: Resolution Health Support Workers are community-based workers who are knowledgeable about Residential Schools. They can give you emotional and spiritual support during the hearing. Many Resolution Health Support workers are Aboriginal and many also have attended Residential Schools.
You can request Resolution Health Support Workers’ support and counseling at any point during the IAP process, not just during the hearing itself. If you are represented by legal counsel please discuss with them how an RHSW could benefit you.
An Elder: You can ask for an Elder or a church leader to offer an opening prayer, perform a ceremony, close the hearing with a prayer or ceremony, or simply be in attendance to offer you spiritual support. You can ask for an elder that you know by name or for one to be set up by the Secretariat. (If you ask for an Elder who you know, you will be asked to provide their contact and travel details with your logistics form, and arrange that they be available to attend with you.
Witnesses: If they give a statement at least two weeks before the hearing, witnesses can give evidence about what they saw and heard in support of your claim.
An interpreter: If you or a witness needs to speak a language other than English or French, request an interpreter.
If you would like to have any of these people at your hearing, tell the Secretariat as soon as you can. You must get the information to the secretariat at least 14 days before the hearing date.
If you want more people than this to come to the hearing, the Adjudicator has to approve it. The extra people have to make their own arrangements and travel at their own expense.