Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

July 15, 2009 09:00 ET

Indian Residential School Survivor Committee Poised to Begin its Work

TRC Fully Equipped to Move Forward

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 15, 2009) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians, today announced the establishment of an Indian Residential School Survivor Committee.

"This committee is an integral part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission," said Minister Strahl. "In addition to providing advice and guidance to the Commission, the Committee will assist Commissioners in their efforts to gather the stories of former Indian Residential Schools students, as well as the history of the Indian Residential Schools system that must be heard by all Canadians."

The Indian Residential School Survivor Committee is comprised of ten members: seven First Nation, two Inuit, one Metis. All are former students assembled from across the country to assist the Truth and Reconciliation Commision in fulfilling its mandate. The committee will act from a position of strength in terms of understanding the issues facing former residential school students. The members of the committee are: Barney Williams Jr., Doris Young, Eugene Arcand, Gordon Williams, John Banksland, John Morrisseau, Lottie May Johnson, Raymond Arcand, Rebekah Uqi Williams, and Terri Brown.

"We have the right people, the right structure, and the right process in place to give us the right commission. Aboriginals and all Canadians can be assured that this TRC will advance our nation towards truth, healing and reconciliation," added Minister Strahl. "The task set out before Justice Sinclair and the two commissioners is of the greatest importance. I have no doubt that they are focused, they have the talent and tools they require, and that they will move without hesitation to begin their important work."

The establishment of the Survivor Committee is an important component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. It is the result of a collaborative process involving the stakeholders to the agreement, which include the Government of Canada, churches, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Metis National Council. This collaboration represents the unwavering commitment on the part of all parties to continue the process of healing and reconciliation.

Biographical notes are also available at:

This release is also available on the Internet at


Barney Williams Jr.

Barney Williams Jr. (Taa-eee-sim-chilth) is Nuu-chah-nulth and a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations in Meares Island, B.C. An elder and survivor of Indian Residential Schools, he is fluent in the Nuu-chah-nulth language.

He is presently active in his work as an Elder Advisor for the B.C. Assembly of First Nations office, Parks Canada, AFN National Elders Council, Tso-tum-le-lum Society Treatment Centre and the Intertribal Health Authority.

Mr. Williams has dedicated his life work to the health and well being of Aboriginal people and is presently focussed on youth, mental health, community crisis prevention, interventions and addictions.

Doris Young

Doris Young is a residential school survivor who is committed to finding ways for Aboriginal people to work towards reconciliation with Canadian society. In addition to her traditional First Nation training, Ms. Young holds a Masters degree in Public Affairs (1985), a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (1981) and a Social Welfare Diploma (1969). Ms. Young has also lent her extensive experience to various Boards and Committees such as the University Of Manitoba Board Of Governors, the Health Science Centre Aboriginal Services Committee, Norman Regional Health Authority Board of Governors, various Boards with the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, the Women's Advisory Council to the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimananak as well as the Child Review Committee on Deaths of Aboriginal Children in Care. Ms. Young is an educator specializing in policy, program development and evaluation with teaching experience from both the University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba.

Eugene Arcand

A Cree from the Muskeg Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Mr. Arcand spent 10 years at the St. Michael Indian Residential school in Duck Lake and 1 year at the Lebret Student Residence, both in Saskatchewan.

Over the last 37 years, Mr. Arcand has served the Saskatchewan First Nations community in a variety of capacities particularly with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations as an Education Liaison Worker, an Executive Assistant for the North Battleford District and as an elected Vice-Chief. He also served as the Executive Director of the Prince Albert Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. Mr. Arcand has dedicated much of his time as an organizer of major events such as regional and national First Nations sports, cultural events, tourism, as well as events geared toward First Nations' youth advancement.

A Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Mr. Arcand also received the Saskatchewan Tourism Ambassador Award in 1997 and was named Prince Albert Citizen of the Year in 1994.

Over the past few years Mr. Arcand has worked on ensuring that both the public and survivor communities are kept informed of the developments and processes linked to the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.

Gordon Williams

Gordon Williams is from the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. He attended school on the reserve until grade 8 and was later sent to the Birtle Indian Residential School west of Winnipeg from 1957 to 1961. Gordon obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Winnipeg in 1965, and later a Master's degree from McGill University in Montreal in 1968. Gordon has served as resident Elder for the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada until recently and has also worked with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to provide specific advisory services. Gordon's wife is a member of the Turtle Clan from Kahnawake Mohawk territory; they have two children who are also committed to obtaining the professional degrees in their university training.

John Banksland

John Banksland is an Inuit Elder who spent 11 years as a resident of the Immaculate Conception Residential School in Aklavik, Northwest Territories. Mr. Banksland has held leadership positions throughout his career in Inuit corporate and community developments and has served as board and council member on the Inuvik Regional Health Board and Yukon Wildlife Management Advisory Council. He continues to be involved in community activities and events pertaining to the health of his fellow residential school survivors and their efforts to overcome barriers to healing.

John Morrisseau

John Morrisseau is a residential school survivor and esteemed Metis leader from Grand Rapids, Manitoba. He has served the Manitoba Government in the capacity of Assistant Deputy Minister and Deputy Minister and the Manitoba Metis Federation as President from 1976 to 1981. Mr. Morrisseau is considered a Metis historian and is a recipient of the Order of the Metis Nation in recognition of his dedicated service to his people and Nation.

Lottie May Johnson

Lottie May Johnson is a Mi'kmaw woman from Eskasoni, Nova Scotia and a survivor of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. Much of her career has been with the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling Association of Nova Scotia where her most recent role is as a Traditional Teacher for the Journey of Healing. Ms. Johnson has published papers on issues related to Aboriginal (Mi'kmaw) healing and continues to be extensively involved in outreach for Indian Residential School survivors.

Raymond Arcand

A 20-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and former Chief of the Alexander First Nation in Alberta, Raymond Arcand is a survivor of the Indian Residential School system. He now dedicates much of his time to assisting fellow former students in working through the various processes arising from the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.

Mr. Arcand is also very involved in the development of First Nations youth through sport. He was involved in the establishment of the North American Indigenous Games which has become a premier Indigenous sporting event for Canada and the United States and he currently sits on the World Indigenous Nations Sports Board of Directors.

Rebekah Uqi Williams

Rebekah Uqi Williams is a registered beneficiary of the Nunavut Land Claim and presently resides in Iqaluit, Nunavut. Rebekah spent 4 years at the Churchill Vocational Centre and her earlier school years were spent at the Arctic Bay School. She is a former territorial level politician and proudly served as a member of the Nunavut Legislature from 2001 until 2004.

Rebekah has spent her entire career serving in various Government departments (NWT and later Nunavut) first as a Certified Nursing Assistant from 1972-1982, then as a Social Worker from 1982-1994 and then within the Territorial Justice Department as a Community Justice Specialist, the Assistant Deputy Minister of Justice from 1994-2001. Rebekah also served on the National Parole Board for Ontario/Nunavut Region for 2 years. Since September 2007, Rebekah has continued her public service in Nunavut as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Justice. Rebekah also brings significant Board and Council experience as a member of The Education Council in Arctic Bay, Deputy Mayor of the Hamlet of Arctic Bay, Hamlet Councillor for Arctic Bay, Chair of the first Nunavut Social Development Council, Member of the Hospital Board of Management and many more. Rebekah is fluent in written and oral communications for both the Inuktitut and English languages.

Terri Brown

Ms. Kukdookaa Terri Brown is a First Nation woman and a survivor of the Indian Residential School system. Since obtaining her Bachelor of Arts in 1989 from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, B.C., Ms. Brown has engaged on Aboriginal community economic development, as well as employment advancement of Aboriginal women. She served as President of the Native Women's Association of Canada and presently advises and works for the Dene Nation in the Northwest Territories. Ms. Brown has participated on Boards such as the Vancouver Status of Women, B.C. Children's Hospital, and the Indian Residential School Advisory Committee for the Assembly of First Nations.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Nina Chiarelli
    Press Secretary
    Media Relations
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada