APTN National News
In this story, we are talking about clients involved in the Independent Assessment Process or IAP. The IAP is a very bureaucratic and complex system set up under the Indian Residential Schools Class Action Settlement Agreement to decide whether the former students deserve to be compensated for physical and sexual abuse they endured in the schools as children – and if so, how much that compensation should be.
The IAP deals with those who suffered the most severe harm from the residential schools system. Those who “experienced: sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or other wrongful acts that caused serious psychological consequences.”
The IAP is a central element to the story and involves a stunning number of people beyond those Blott and Company lawyers and their clients: it involves many federal bureaucrats, the Assembly of First Nations and many others.
An entire new federal government agency was created to make this process work.
Called the IAP Secretariat, it reports to the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. There are also many Health Canada workers involved in providing health support to former students as they go through the adjudication process. The Justice Department, as always, is heavily involved in any matter that has legal implications for the government of Canada.
To add a high-level political twist, on July 11 of this year, the Kainai (Blackfoot) people made Prime Minister Stephen Harper an honorary chief, in recognition of his 2008 apology for residential schools in the House of Commons.
Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head arranged the honorary chieftainship.
“My family and I are deeply grateful for this gift and I will carry my Blood name, Chief Speaker, with great joy and pride,” the prime minister said that day.
Kainai sources say the words of the prime minister’s apology are seen in their culture as a solemn promise. He will be expected to do what he can to live up to that promise.