The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) is a provincial organization with a twenty year history of providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society began in 1994 as a working committee of the First Nations Summit. We were known as the Residential School Project, housed out of and as a part of the BC First Nations Summit. The work was primarily to assist Survivors with the litigation process pertaining to residential school abuses. In the more recent years the work has expanded to include assisting the descendants of Survivors and Community education measures (Aboriginal & Non-Aboriginal).
As of March 2002 we formally became the Indian Residential School Survivors Society (IRSSS). The IRSSS is governed by an elected Board of Directors from six regions of BC; the board of directors are also survivors or intergenerational survivors of residential school. The BOD is responsible for the funding of the organization and delegates its day-to-day duties to the Executive Director, Cindy Tom-Lindley. The Executive Director is hired by the board of directors and hold full responsibility for the implementation of Board initiatives and policies as well as hiring staff. The board is supported by a staff of 20 professionals and 16 Elders Cultural Support, most of whom are themselves either Indian residential school survivors or inter-generational survivors.
IRSSS provides essential services to residential school survivors, their families and to those dealing with intergenerational traumas. These impacts affect every family and every community across B.C. and Canada. This fact is most evident in the Corrections Canada Services-the numbers of First Nations people incarcerated, Child and Family Services- child apprehensions, the high number of people on social assistance, unemployment and under employed, lower levels of education, the lowest number within an ethnic minority of “determinants of health”, the list of impacts is extremely high while the services available to effectively assist impacts of Residential Schools remain quite low.
One of our Society’s goals is to continually expand support to partner organizations to maximize access to culturally sensitive emotional, mental, physical and spiritual care.