Friday, April 08, 2005

Indian Residential Schools: Parliament Says ADR's Screwed

The noise in the House of the Brault testimony tended to obscure other parliamentary business. Earlier in the day, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs tabled its report on the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process.

ADR is the process the Chrétien government came up with for resolving the claims of Aboriginals who'd been traumatized by their stay in residential schools, in the mid- to late 20th century.

I suppose I shouldn't be shocked by this: the Committee found ADR to be a failure.

Specifically the ADR process is a failure because:
1. It is strikingly disconnected from the so-called pilot projects that preceded it.

2. The consultative mechanisms that informed its development did not include a sufficiently broad range of participation by former residential school students and other relevant professionals – legal, cultural, psychological and healing.

3. It is failing to provide impartial and even-handed due process.

4. It is not attracting former students to apply in credible numbers.

5. It is structured to compensate too narrow a population of former students.

6. It provides grossly inadequate compensation when, grudgingly, it does so.

7. It excludes too many of the some 87,000 remaining former students from eligibility.

8. It is proceeding too slowly, allowing too many former students to die uncompensated.

9. It is using a model of dispute resolution that is disrespectful, humiliating and unfeeling and re-victimizes former students, who are now elderly and vulnerable.

10. It is an arbitrary administrative solution that is vulnerable to political whim.

11. Its high structural costs are fixed and will always be disproportionate to the size of compensation granted.

12. Its so-called verification process imposes an egregious burden of proof on the applicants that programs failure into the resolutions process, requires irrelevant data and imposes a cost on the applicant that can exceed the size of an award.

13. Former students do not trust the process. [Given the above, can you blame them?]

14. There is no satisfactory evidence in the numbers that the program is working.

I suppose I should figure out a way to get Darcey to give his perspective on this ...