Skip to main content

Children and staff at a native residential school in Fort Providence, NWT, in 1921.Sacred Heart Parish/NWT Archives

The RCMP say they will release a report Saturday that documents the force's involvement in Canada's infamous native residential school system.

The Mounties issued a statement Friday saying the research report will be presented to the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is holding hearings in Halifax.

The statement says the report covers more than 100 years and is the first complete assessment of the RCMP's involvement in the Indian residential school system.

About 150,000 aboriginal children attended residential schools.

In May 2004, the RCMP's commissioner publicly apologized to Canada's aboriginal peoples.

"To those of you who suffered tragedies at residential schools, we are very sorry for your experience," Giuliano Zaccardelli said.

"Canadians can never forget what happened and they never should. ... I, as commissioner of the RCMP, am truly sorry for what role we played in the residential school system and the abuse that took place in that system."

Phil Fontaine, former grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said the RCMP's role in the system was clear.

"I heard many stories over many years about the very direct role played by the RCMP in the apprehension of Indian children who were then taken to residential schools," said Mr. Fontaine, who spent 10 years in residential schools.

Mr. Fontaine, now a senior adviser with the law firm Norton Rose, said he recalled a senior RCMP officer apologizing at a reunion of residential-school survivors in northern Alberta, describing the force's role in removing native children from their homes.

"There came a point where [the RCMP officers]said, 'No more.' They told the government they would no longer go out and apprehend Indian kids."

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has a five-year mandate to document the history of residential schools, inspire reconciliation and produce a report by 2014.

The first government-funded, church-run residential schools opened in the 1870s. The last one closed outside Regina in 1996.