Judge denies interveners a say in Indian day school settlement

“People are waiting for a settlement.”

Kathleen Martens
A judge has dashed the hopes of a consortium of Indigenous organizations and lawyers wanting to challenge the tentative Indian day schools settlement agreement.

The decision was posted Thursday in one sentence on the Federal Court docket.

“To assist parties with planning, the Court is giving early notice that it will shortly be issuing decisions on the intervener motions heard in Calgary dismissing each of the motions with reasons,” Justice Michael Phelan wrote.

Phelan was referring to motions heard April 10 APTN News reported earlier this week.

Read: ‘They’re going to try and stall it’: Indian school plaintiff worried about challenge to settlement agreement 

Ray Mason of Manitoba was delighted with Phelan’s decision.

“That’s awesome,” the former day school student, who helped initiate the class-action lawsuit for compensation, said Thursday morning.

Mason was worried the interveners would delay the settlement’s certification hearing scheduled for May, forcing aging survivors to wait longer for the redress he says they’re owed for abuse and loss of culture suffered at the federally mandated schools.

There are between 120,000 and 140,000 living former students who were forced to attend more than 700 schools.

They were excluded from the Indian residential schools compensation program because they slept in their own beds at night instead of at the schools.

But Mason says they suffered similar emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and a negative impact on their language and culture.

“People are waiting for a settlement,” he said in a telephone interview.

Under the terms of the settlement proposed by Ottawa, former students would receive compensation of $10,000 “for harms associated with attending a federal Indian day school” to a maximum of $200,000 “depending on the severity of abuse suffered.”

Read: Concerns growing about proposed day school settlement

But the interveners say the settlement isn’t fair.

They want to see more time added to the 12-month application period, extra funds for individual compensation, and money for additional legal fees.

Calling themselves the Indigenous Day School Group, the group of lawyers from western Canada says it represents roughly 15,000 survivors of the day school program.

They say they’ve shared their concerns with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett.





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