Defunding the Aboriginal Healing Foundation: Fact Sheet

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) was established in 1998, with a one-time grant of $350 million from the federal government, and was given a mandate ”to encourage and support, through research and funding contributions, community-based Aboriginal-directed healing initiatives which address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s IRS System, including intergenerational impacts.” [1]

Less than two years after Prime Minister Harper’s apology for the Canadian government’s role in administering the IRS System, AHF funding was eliminated in Canada’s 2010 Budget, crippling 134 Foundation-funded healing projects across the country. [2]

In many cases, organizations will be forced to close their doors as of March 31st, 2010 when the cuts take effect.
$199 million was promised to address the legacy of residential schools in the 2010 Budget. None is being committed to the AHF. Half is going to Health Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, and half to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), which provides monetary payments to former IRS students.

Among the organizations that will be affected by the cuts is the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM). The Shelter will lose one third of it’s funding, and three employees will lose their jobs, including a Sexual Assault Counsellor.

A 2009 report on the evaluation of the AHF undertaken on behalf of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) concluded that “there is presently no equivalent alternative that could achieve the desired outcomes with the rate of success that the AHF has achieved.”

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is prohibited from engaging in advocacy by its Funding Agreement.
The 134 projects to have their AHF funding cut:

A petition demanding that the AHF’s funding be reinstated:

For more info, see:

Residential schools for Aboriginal people in Canada date back to the 1840s. The last school closed in 1996.
139 is the official number of residential schools that have been located across Canada, though there were other, smaller schools run by religious orders which are harder to find information about.

The purpose of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools (IRS), which separated Native children from their families, was infamously described as “killing the Indian in the child.”

It is estimated that nearly half of the children originally enlisted in the schools died of malnutrition and disease.