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First Nations & Inuit Health

Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program

This Web site deals with topics that may cause trauma invoked by memories of past abuse. The Government of Canada recognizes the need for safety measures to minimize the risk associated with triggering.

A 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:


The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP) provides mental health and emotional support services to eligible former Indian Residential School students and their families throughout all phases of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, including:

  • Common Experience Payments (CEP)
  • Independent Assessment Process (IAP),
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) events
  • Commemorative activities

Resolution Health Support Program Services are safe, confidential, respectful, and non-judgmental.

Information for Former Indian Residential School students and their families

Program Eligibility

All former Indian Residential School students, regardless of the individual's status or place of residence within Canada, who attended an Indian Residential School listed in the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement are eligible to receive services from the Resolution Health Support Program.

In recognition of the intergenerational impacts that the Indian Residential Schools had on families, Resolution Health Support Program services are also available to family members of former Indian Residential Schools students. The family of former students is defined as:

  • spouse or partner;
  • those raised by or raised in the household of a former Indian Residential School student; and,
  • any relation who has experienced effects of intergenerational trauma associated with a family member's time at an Indian Residential School.

Health Canada verifies eligibility of persons requesting IRS RHSP services with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, which holds data on former students who attended those Indian Residential Schools that are part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Services Available

Cultural Support
Cultural supports are provided by local Aboriginal organizations who coordinate the services of Elders and/or traditional healers. Cultural supports seek to assist former students and their families to safely address issues related to Indian Residential Schools as well as the disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. Specific services are chosen by the former student and/or family member and can include traditional healing, ceremonies, teachings and dialogue.
Emotional Support
Services are provided by local Aboriginal organizations and are designed to help former students and their families safely address issues related to the negative impacts of the Indian Residential Schools as well as the disclosure of abuse during the Settlement Agreement process. A Resolution Health Support Worker will listen, talk and provide support to former students and their family members through all phases of the Settlement Agreement process.
Professional Counselling
Professional counsellors are psychologists and social workers that are registered with Health Canada, for individual or family counselling. A professional counsellor will listen, talk and assist individuals to find ways of healing from Indian Residential School experiences.

Health Canada's Non Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) and Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program (IRS RHSP) developed a joint Guide to Mental Health Counselling Services which outlines the criteria, guidelines and policies under which the NIHB Program's Short-Term Crisis Intervention Mental Health Counselling benefit and the Individual and Family Counselling component of the IRS RHSP operate.

In the Guide you will find information regarding:

  • Provider enrolment process;
  • Client eligibility;
  • Benefit coverage;
  • Prior approval process;
  • Claim submission; and
  • Procedure for appeals.

Please visit the NIHB's web page for a copy of the Guide and forms.

Assistance with transportation may be offered when professional counselling and cultural support services are not locally available.

Accessing Health Support

Please contact the Resolution Health Support Program Regional Office in your Province or Territory.

When you call the Health Canada regional office, they will request your name and date of birth in order to confirm that you are eligible to access services under the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program. If you are a family member of a former student, the name and date of birth of the family member who attended residential school will be required to confirm your eligibility.

Once eligibility is confirmed, the Health Canada official will work with you to arrange the health support services you have requested.

Coping with Emotional Reactions

Thinking about how Residential School affected you can lead to positive or negative thoughts or memories.

This brochure is designed to help you recognize the reactions you may have.

Please read the brochure Coping with Emotional Reactions.