Common Experience Payment


The Indian Residential Schools (IRS) Settlement Agreement has been approved by the courts. The 150 day opt out period is underway and will continue until August 20, 2007. During this period, all eligible former IRS students and their families must decide whether to stay in the settlement or remove themselves (opt out).


If the agreement moves forward, Service Canada will be responsible for:

making Common Experience Payment (CEP) applications available;
• providing assistance to former IRS students in completing their CEP applications;
• verifying identities of CEP applicants;
• receiving the CEP applications;
• processing payments when applications are approved; and
• responding to enquiries related to the CEP.


The official CEP application forms will be available only after the opt out period is over and it is confirmed that the Settlement Agreement will continue. Many former IRS students will receive application forms by mail. Applications will also be available at Service Canada Centres, and will be posted on the Service Canada Web site:


Identity documents

Option 1: To verify identity, Service Canada will require an original birth certificate.
Please note: Only an original birth certificate can be accepted. No photocopies. If you do not have a birth certificate, you may contact the appropriate agency in your province/territory to request one.


Option 2: If you cannot get an official birth certificate, Service Canada will require two of the following documents, one of which must feature your photograph:
• Certificate of Indian Status (issued by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada);
• provincial/territorial driver’s licence;
• provincial/territorial health card;
• Canadian passport.


For a CEP application made in person at a Service Canada Centre or to Service Canada staff who may visit communities, original identity documents will be required.  For a CEP application sent by mail, the original birth certificate or certified copies of two of the identity documents listed in option 2 will be required. If you send your original identity documents, they will be returned to you by mail.

People who will be able to certify the identity documents will need to see the original documents, must be Canadian citizens residing in Canada, must be available to Service Canada for verification and must have known you personally for a minimum of two years. Please note: you cannot certify your own identity documents.

On the copy of the identity document that does not feature a photo; the person certifying the document must include the statement “I certify this to be a true copy of the original”. On the copy of the identity document that features a photo; the person certifying the document must include the statement “I certify that this is a true copy of the original and that the image is a true likeness of the applicant. I am a Canadian citizen and have known the applicant personally for at least two years.” On all copies of identity documents, they will also include their printed name, position, signature, contact information and the date they certified the document.

Only the following people will be able to certify identity documents:
Chief or Councillor of First Nations Band Council
Council of the Métis Settlements General Council and Members of the Saskatchewan Provincial Métis Council
Executive Officer of Nunavut Tungavik Inc.
Executive Officer of Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (Northwest Territories)
Executive Officer Makivik (Northern Quebec)
Lawyer (member of a provincial bar association)
Notary in Quebec
Medical Doctor
Minister of religion authorized under provincial law to perform marriages
Notary public
Police officer (municipal, provincial or RCMP)
Principal of a primary or secondary school
Professional accountant (APA, CA, CGA, CMA, PA, RPA)
Professional engineer (P.Eng., Eng. in Quebec)
Senior administrator in a community college (includes CEGEPs)
Senior administrator or teacher in a university
Social Worker with MSW (Masters in Social Work)


Completing the application form

It will be important to complete the entire CEP application form. This will include:
• full names, including names you may have been known by at residential schools;
• complete mailing address, including postal code;
• the residential schools you lived at and when.

Everyone who receives a Common Experience Payment will have the option of receiving a cheque by mail or payment by direct deposit. Direct deposit is available in Canada only.

Information about the Settlement Agreement is available through the toll-free Residential Schools Settlement Agreement Information Line at 1-866-879-4913 or online at