AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says a Supreme Court decision ensures the rights of former residential school students are respected.

On Friday, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed an appeal by the Government of Canada to take full control of documents related to residential schools.

The documents were transcripts created by individuals who participated in the Independent Assessment Process, which was part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Many of these documents outline abuses and trauma suffered during the Residential School experience.

“Individual testimony belongs to each individual,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a media release. “This is a good and fair decision by the Supreme Court today.”

The decision gives those who participated in the assessment process the opportunity to preserve the documents if they decide. The federal government argued the documents should be preserved to document the dark chapter of the Residential School system in Canada.

“Each individual has the right to decide if their personal stories told during the Independent Assessment Process are made public or kept private,” said Chief Bellegarde. “Many former students shared their stories on the understanding that the IAP hearing was private and confidential. This must be respected.

The documents are set to be destroyed after 15 years unless individuals chose to preserve them.