In the past year, the Government of Canada has established the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to address the deleterious effect that the IRS system has had on Aboriginal communities. This paper argues that the TRC as an alternative dispute resolution mechanism is flawed since it focuses too much on truth at the expense of reconciliation. While the proliferation of historical truths is of great importance, without mapping a path to reconciliation, the Canadian public will simply learn about the mistakes of the past without addressing the residual, communal impacts of the IRS system that continue to linger. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission must therefore approach its mandate broadly and in a manner reminiscent of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples of 1996.


The author wishes to thank Professor Gemma Smyth and Ms. Anna Gersh for their generous support and feedback on earlier editions of this paper, as well as two anonymous reviewers for their commentary.

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