After years of waiting, day school survivors can finally apply for compensation beginning Monday, Jan. 13.
“We’re feeling Garry McLean smiling down upon us,” Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said of the original lead plaintiff.
McLean, a day school survivor from Manitoba, initiated a multi-billion-dollar class-action lawsuit in 2009 against Canada after day school survivors were left out of the residential schools settlement agreement.
He was all smiles last year when Bennett announced her government would settle.
“We’re taking everything that we learned from the residential school process, a little bit from what we learned after 60s Scoop, to not have to go to court,” Bennett told APTN News in an interview.
Sadly, McLean died of cancer last year before the federal court approved the settlement. Claims will be accepted until July 2022.
An estimated 140,000 former students – also known as survivors – make up the class. They may have been allowed to sleep in their own beds at night but say they suffered the same atrocities as residential school students.
They were all taken from their families and forced to attend the schools that operated in Canada for more than a century.
“Today, we honour the legacy of Garry McLean and the work he did with other courageous survivors to right historical wrongs,” Bennett added in a statement.
“Thousands of Indigenous people who were harmed by attending federally-operated Indian Day Schools are now able to seek compensation.”
Here’s the link to information: Day School Information
Here’s the link to claim forms: Day School Information Forms
Bennett said settling the suit is her government’s way of using “negotiation instead of litigation…
“This settlement is based on the premise that those who were sent to Federal Indian Day Schools were harmed,” she added.
Along with a minimum of $10,000 in individual compensation, the settlement includes $200-million for a foundation to provide ongoing support, healing and commemoration.
Survivors are eligible for additional financial compensation of between $50,000 and $200,000 based on the severity of abuse they suffered. But they won’t have to retain a lawyer or testify at a hearing like residential school survivors did as part of their settlement.
The Gowling law firm is being paid $50-million from the government to provide legal services to survivors. Deloitte will handle the claims process as third-party administrator.
“This is an important step towards healing and justice for day school survivors and their families,” Bennett added in the emailed statement.
“This agreement demonstrates a comprehensive approach accomplished by working with survivors which cannot be achieved through court processes.”
It’s the third class-action lawsuit settled by the Trudeau government involving former residential school students.
But others are still hoping for a similar deal with the government.
Another group known as day scholars is seeking similar redress from Canada. They have been unable to reach a settlement and are headed to court.
“We’re just having trouble coming together on a way forward,” Bennett told APTN, “…but we want those survivors compensated appropriately.”
Added Bennett: “My job is to stay out of court.”
As well, talks are ongoing with Métis survivors of the former Île-à-la-Crosse residential school in northern Saskatchewan, which was operated by the province of Saskatchewan.
Bennett said she met with the survivors’ group as recently as last December.
“We are hoping the province of Saskatchewan will come to the table,” she said. “But we want to do what we need to do for the sake of those survivors.”