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RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL letter
by Richard L. Provencher
12/11/2008 / Stewardship
81 Queen Street, Unit 6, Truro, NS
B2N 2B2 Phone (902) 897-2344
December 26, 2006
Re: Residential School Compensation for Justice (RSCJ)
Congratulations on the hard work, you and your committee have put into this situation! I read with great interest, the details in the Central Nova Scotia paper, dated Tuesday, December 19, 2006. Enclosed below are ideas for you to consider, as you move forward from this point.
You may have already thought about some of these ideas, but they are given you to consider as your project begins implementation. I draw from 25 years in Middle and Senior management in Municipal, Provincial, Federal and Business positions.
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL COMPENSATION for JUSTICE (RSCJ)
FIRST, indicate to the Federal Government you (Chair) will set up a Board of Directors for TOTAL control of the full compensation, as an independent non-profit organization. (You must use smart, honest, fair-minded NATIVE lawyers). Otherwise a Native Band, and/or Government body will spend years fighting or trying to figure out how to dispense the funds, and no one except the lawyers, will receive any money for years.
Your Board of Directors must be persons sincerely interested in the needs of the victims. (Phil Fontaine should be one. He, in my estimation has a steadying viewpoint on most issues. I also believe he is a lawyer). People like Chief Coon Come are much too radical, in my view).
I suggest, in addition to the Chair (you, because you were the driving force, and this is your vision) a total of SEVEN more voting Board Members, all registered Natives, plus no more than Seven Advisors, with no vote. There could be ONE Advisor from Federal, ONE from Provincial governments, THREE from Native victims, and TWO non-natives for an outside viewpoint. I would like to be considered to be one of these two advisors, if this plan of action ever takes effect.
I believe, if possible within the non-profit rules, it may be possible to pay the Chair and seven Native Board Members an honorarium, plus receipted expenses up to a maximum, plus a per diem for meetings. Ie Chair $12,000 plus $100. daily per diem for Board Meetings, plus meals and traveling expenses. Seven Board members to receive $8000 plus $100. daily per diem for Board Meetings, plus meals and traveling expenses.
To prevent meeting abuses, All Board meetings should have a quorum of five in order to qualify for the per diems. But other expenses should be covered. (If above doesn't work under existing rules, then pay the Chair a salary of $60,000 plus legitimate expenses and Board Members $45,000 plus legitimate expenses.
The Advisors could receive only the $100. per day plus legitimate receipted expenses. The focus of all involvement should be one of service, since it is not the intention to flood the project with a large number of representatives who will take ages to make decisions.
You must move quickly and decisively with your core group, and to dispense funds ASAP before too many die (if they do, the next of kin should get their funds), since I am sure many are elderly and/or sickly.
How to dispense and deal with the large number of claims?
You must have some kind of idea how many Victims are involved from various Reserves. Use the existing administration and avoid a nightmare for yourself by getting trapped by massive paperwork. Your Board should quickly establish a Level 1 form, to be distributed by the Reserve and fill out and behalf of the victim-applicant from their Reserve. For doing the paperwork, a grant of say $500 to $5,000 can be given to participating Reserves to be used for their youth programs.
I believe you should focus on payments to those who were in Residential Schools. And the Level 1 form will identify and get basic info to see who qualifies for the approximate $24,000 average compensation as listed in the newspaper article. These payments should be sent quickly as possible, DIRECTLY to the victim. The newspaper story states as many as 79,000 persons may qualify.
Later, the Level 2 can be used. This will be very difficult since you may have many claims of terrible abuse in order to qualify for the very high payments. Witnesses should be listed on this very confidential form, and the circumstances of the abuse should be listed.
Again this is very confidential and I suggest a traveling committee of three from each province, given an honorarium and expenses paid, to visit individuals and get their stories. Aim for a maximum period of two years for partial or full payments to be made, and to be fully paid by three years. I believe Level 2 information should be sealed and committees sworn to secrecy, and that ONLY the Board and Advisors have access to the material. The newspaper story stated as many as 12-20,000 may qualify for $500-$275,000 EXTRA.
I also believe a native (only natives should do the level 1 and 2 forms, including committee members) with a business degree, or considerable business experience should have one other person, perhaps a secretary for recording purposes visit reserves or specific victim groups across Canada to ascertain income loss. The newspaper story indicates up to $250,000, may be paid out. Since this area would be difficult to ascertain, a separate group should discover exactly what would be involved.
AS YOU READ THE ABOVE, IT SEEMS QUITE COMPLICATED, BUT IT IS NOT. YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER THIS IS A NATIONAL ISSUE AND YOU MUST BE CALM, ORGANIZED, IN CHARGE, SUPERVISING, AND HAVE ALL PERTINENT INFORMATION AND REPORTS COME TO YOU AND YOUR BOARD AND NO ONE ELSE.
You have to proctect your emotions, keep an overview on all the situations and I believe this is a three year project to complete from the day you begin to get funds. However payment may be over ten years, since governments do these things, and the trick is to get as much up front, banked and protected as quickly as possible. Who knows what future governments would do with the money, or what priorities they may decide, if the money is not under the total control of your board.
I believe the following full-time staffing should be working out of your National office: A Secretary to accept messages, reports, keep track of your itinerary and make appointments, if need be. A Confidential Executive Assistant who travels with you and doubles as a secretary taking notes of all meetings, since you must focus on what is happening without worrying about who said what.
This person should also be your back-up in training should you ever be sick or they need to represent you for a specific mission. An Executive Assistant in charge of Level 1 victims, An Executive Assistant in charge of Level 2 Victims, and an Executive Assistant in charge of the income loss reviews. Each of these three assistants, could get by with sharing one secretary.
You need proper equipment, up to date computer systems under one Computer/Accountant specialist, and they should have a confidential secretary trained in accounting and business. You need a highly trained, educated and motivated group of young natives. ALL your staff should be Natives, and all accountable to you and your Board. You have billions of dollars under your jurisdiction. This is not a job, but a mission you began and you must have a professional and capable organization.
You must be able to be freed up to direct the forces, since this will also be a very political challenge. You must satisfy the federal moola holders, the native victims, including those who simply want to be paid yesterday, or right now. And then there will be those watching if Natives can do the job. This is a change to prove that trained Natives, can do so.
I also believe you should BUY a building, so you can use it not only as an investment but also for future uses. It should have space for conferences, wired up for TV interviews, room for all your staff, and should reflect an image of an organization who knows what it is doing. It is an example of self-governing by natives in charge of their own destiny.
I believe another challenge is to convince anyone who worries that money given out won't simply be slobbered over a bar, since unfortunately too many people have such thoughts, when large sums of money are received by those unused to managing budgets.
Perhaps you can set up or tap into existing financial services to help Natives with their largesse. Try to utilize Native organizations, since you will get all kinds of advice to use only certain service providers. You must go with the ones who can do the best job, but at the same time help any fledgling native organization enhance their expertise.
Nora, reality may mean that the Federal government will decide who gets what, under some method similar to the above thoughts. But, on the other hand, why not dream out loud, and just maybe
Regarding the $125. million for an Aborginal Healing Foundation. You would make a good Director of the project. It should be an off-reserve development, since I believe reserves are destroying Native culture. And within this foundation there should be training models for Native self-government on existing reserves, with accountability as a strong feature.
I could go on and on, but should stop here. I hope you and your family had a great Christmas, Esther and I did. How is Jason?
Love and hugs, from
Dick and Esther Provencher
NOTE: Nora was a wonderful person whose caring and love for her Mi'kmaq people was snuffed out during a violent home invasion causing her death not long ago. My wife, Esther and I, had the honour of knowing Nora for about 20 years, and I had the privilege of being the Big Brother for her only son, Jay, for three years when he was 11-14. Ms. Bernard has been awarded, posthumously, the highest recognition for her successful work, from both the governments of Canada and Nova Scotia. I felt a need to share this letter in memory of a dear Christian friend.
* * *
Richard L. Provencher 2008 All Rights Reserved
Richard enjoys writing poems; many of which have been published in Print and Online. He and his wife, Esther are also co-authors of stories and a print novel. They are "born again" Christians and very busy in their church, Abundant Life Victory International, in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia.
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