Residential schools

Note: The information and material here may trigger unpleasant feelings or thoughts of past abuse. Please contact the 24 Hour Residential School Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 if you require emotional support.

​What is the Residential Schools Program?

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program provides mental health and emotional supports to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families. The support is offered before, during and after their participation in Settlement Agreement processes and includes:

• Common Experience Payments,
• The Independent Assessment Process,
• Truth and Reconciliation Commission events and Commemoration activities.

Why is this Important?

Indian Residential Schools did tremendous harm to First Nations in Canada. Helping people heal from the damage is critically important for individuals, families, communities and Nations. The consequences of the abuse suffered in these schools continues to affect First Nations through an intergenerational effect – essentially, the harm caused to students affects families and communities over generations.

The schools, created by the federal government, were operated by churches for more than 100 years. They caused serious harm to children, communities and Nations through forced assimilation and abuse (physical, mental and sexual). Children were forcibly removed from communities by the RCMP. At school children were punished for speaking their language, even when it was the only language they knew. Mortality rates were between 40-60% in the schools' early years.  

Making the Residential School Program yours.

The program's aim is to ensure that eligible former students of residential schools, and their families, have access to appropriate and safe mental health, emotional and cultural support. Services are offered, using a holistic approach, by a Cultural Support Worker or a Residential School Health Support Worker. Please call toll free 1-877-477-0775.

Cultural Support

Cultural supports are provided by local First Nations organizations, which coordinate the services of Elders and/or traditional healers. Support assists students and their families to safely address issues related to residential schools as well as with disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. Services are based on individual needs and include dialogue, ceremonies, prayers and traditional healing.

Emotional Support

Services are provided by local First Nations organizations to help students and families address issues related to the schools and with disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. An Aboriginal mental health worker will listen, talk and guide former students and family members through all phases of the Settlement Agreement process.

Professional Counselling

Professional counsellors are psychologists and social workers who are registered with the First Nations Health Authority and have experience working with Aboriginal people. A professional counsellor will listen, talk and assist former students to find ways of healing from residential school experiences.

For professional counselling, please call toll free 1-877-477-0775 to request a counsellor.


Assistance with transportation costs is provided to access professional counselling services. Guidelines around transportation can be found in the FNHA Health Benefits travel policies. Learn more by calling toll free 1-877-0775.

What to Expect in the Future

The program will continue in much the same way as it did before transfer. While some programs may undergo changes in the short term, the majority of FNHA programs will remain in place while First Nations leaders continue to provide advice and guidance on programs and policies. 


Assembly of First Nations – Indian Residential Schools:

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: (Closing Cermony to be held in Ottawa on May 31- June 3, 2015)

Reconciliation Canada: History and Background:

University of British Columbia – Indian Residential School Initiative:

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (Formerly known as Indian and Northern Affairs) – Indian Residential Schools:

Indian Residential Schools Settlement – Official Court Website: (Education credit deadline extended to March 9, 2015)

The Independent Assessment Process - 

or call the Indian Residential School Adjudication Secretariat 1-877-635-2648 for more information about the IAP.

Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat at toll free: 1-877-635-2648 -

National Indian Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419

The National Indian Residential School Crisis line has been set up to provide support for former Residential School students. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling 24-hour National Crisis line. 

Find out more about the FNHA's relationship to the Indian Residential School Support Program here.

IRS RHSP Aboriginal Service Providers – Resolution Health Support/Cultural Support Workers

FNHA: Community Health and Wellness Services

Or​g​anizationContact Name(s)EmailTelephone

Adah Dene Cultural

Healing Camp Society

Margo Sagalon

Manager (Ft. St. James)

Tracey Charlebois


(w) 250-996-5024

(c) 250-996-3813

(c) 250-996-1475

Carrier Sekani

Family Services

Marilyn Janzen

Health and Wellness Manager (Nadleh Whut'en Health Centre)


Mabel Louie

Executive Director











Gitanyow Human Services

Erica Marsden

Health Director (Kitwanga)


Wanda Good

Project Manager







Gitsxan Health Society

Annie Howard

Executive Director (Gitanmaax)

Ardythe Wilson

IRS Manager


Nuu Chah Nulth

Tribal Council


Vina Robinson
Manager (Port Alberni)


Kim Erickson,

Acting Supervisor






Indian Residential School Survivor Society

Angela White

Executive Director (Vancouver)



Okanagan Alliance

Jennifer Lewis

Wellness Manager  (West Bank)


Ruby Peterson

IRS Lead







250-707-0095 ext. 229

Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society

Nola Jeffrey
Executive Director (Lantzville)

Dwanda Joseph

Program  Director








FNHA Indian Residential Schools information line: