We call upon all chief coroners and provincial vital statistics agencies that have not provided to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada their records on the deaths of Aboriginal children in the care of residential school authorities to make these documents available to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusOct. 4, 2021STALLED
Previous StatusSept. 5, 2021STALLED

Why “Stalled”?

As of 2014, as stated in “Honoring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, Summary of the Final report of the TRC (July 23, 2015 p. 259) Chief Coroners in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Nova Scotia responded to the Commission’s request for records. Also, as of 2014, in addition to the office in British Columbia, vital statistics offices in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and Nunavut had responded to the Commission’s request for records.

Indian Residential School (IRS) deaths per province and territory, 1867-2000

Province/Territory# of IRSNamed RegisterNamed and Unnamed
Registers Combined
British Columbia18352580
Northwest Territories14190252
Nova Scotia11515


  • Total number of deaths in Residential Schools from 1867 – 2000: 3,201
  • TRC chair Justice Murray Sinclair said the total number of recorded residential school deaths in Canada could be an underestimate given poor record keeping, and the real number of deaths could have been five to 10 times higher
  • Of the 342 deaths recoded in the north (NWT, Yukon and Nunavut) 110 are unnamed
  • Newfoundland and Labrador was excluded from the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. See Call to Action # 29 for details on Residential Schools Class Action Settlement on May 11, 2016 and Supreme Court Mount Cashel decision finding Archdiocese of St. Johns liable for abuse on Jan. 14, 2021
  • According to the final report, between 1936 and 1944, 200,000 Indian Affairs files were destroyed.
  • The commission says government and school records failed to report the cause of death in about 43 per cent of cases.
  • Among cases with a reported cause of death, about half died from tuberculosis. Pneumonia and influenza combined accounted for another 10 per cent of deaths.
  • The Bryce Report submitted to the federal government in 1906 warned of the “unacceptably high rates of death in residential schools

Official Federal Government Response: “Modified” June 11, 2021 – but nothing changed from Sept. 5, 2019

The Government of Canada is not the lead on a response for Call to Action 71.