The law firm Regina, Saskatchewan Lawyer, Tony Merchant, Q.C. — Merchant Law Group LLP — represented more than 7,000 survivors — about 50 per cent of known residential school survivors in Canada who were pursuing class actions against the Canadian federal government.  Following the publication of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report, survivors of residential schools gathered across the country for meetings attended by Tony Merchant, who became a “familiar figure” and welcomed thousands of survivors for collective action.  MLG`s lawyers received “nothing until a class action was concluded” in a judicial agreement that was motivated by the liquidation.  David Blott`s law firm in Calgary, Alberta, “processed nearly 4,600 residential school applications.”  Indigenous communities, governments and church organizations have long struggled to heal the wounds caused by the school system. Beginning in the 1980s, former students launched legal campaigns to push the government and churches to recognize abuses of the system and pay some compensation. In 1998, the federal government issued a declaration of reconciliation in which it acknowledged the mistreatment of former students and created the multi-million dollar Aboriginal Healing Foundation. The out-of-court dispute resolution procedure was launched in 2003 and provides an out-of-court mechanism for determining compensation and psychological assistance. The broader IRSSA, which came into effect on September 19, 2007, resulted in discussions between former student representatives, the Assembly of First Nations and other Aboriginal organizations, the churches involved and the federal government. The public information and advocacy program was launched in 2007-08 to ensure that every effort has been made to reach former Indian students at the residential school to inform them of the benefits available to them under the comparison agreement. Special efforts have been made to place former students in remote and isolated communities, those in mental health centres and those who are homeless or imprisoned. In addition, APIP projects have fostered healing and reconciliation by helping Canadians understand the settlement agreement and the impact that the legacy of Indian residential schools has had on Aboriginal communities. IRSSA has allocated $60 million to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to document and preserve the survivors` experience.
The Commission was established on 2 June 2008.  On 20 October 2008, Justice Harry LaForme, President of the Commission, resigned, saying that the Commission was on the verge of being paralyzed and condemned to failure.