In 2009, Garry McLean started a legal action regarding the forced attendance of Aboriginal students at Indian Day Schools across Canada. This proposed national Class Action is the first of its kind and seeks compensation for the damages and abuses suffered by all Indian Day School students who were forced to attend Indian Day Schools and were excluded from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.


On March 12, 2019, plaintiffs in the McLean case announced the settlement of a nation-wide class action lawsuit against Canada brought to compensate survivors for harms they suffered while attending federally operated Indian Day Schools. The settlement includes all survivors who attended federally-run Indian Day Schools, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

The settlement followed two years of focused engagement with thousands of Indian Day School survivors and community members, as well as Indigenous leaders across Canada. Importantly, the Indian Day School Settlement was designed to avoid the re-traumatization of class members that was often seen in the Indian Residential School Settlement.

The March announcement marked the beginning of a 60-day “notice period”, during which survivors across Canada can learn about the settlement and raise questions leading up to the Settlement Approval Hearings, scheduled for May. Class Counsel continues to visit and speak with survivors, Indigenous communities, and leaders across the country to receive their input on the Settlement.

Case Timeline


Garry McLean, original lead plaintiff, and others initiated the Federal Indian Day School class action.


After seven years in legal limbo, Mr. McLean engaged Gowling WLG to take over the case.

June 2018:

The case was certified with Gowling WLG appointed as Class Counsel. 

Nov. 2018:

An agreement in principle was reached with Canada.

March 2019:

Lead plaintiffs and Canada signed a settlement agreement. 60-day notice period begins.

May 3, 2019:

Deadline for Class members to file objections or statements in support of the settlement.

May 7, 2019:

All statements of support and objection forms were filed with the Court.

May 13-15, 2019:

Settlement approval hearings took place in Winnipeg, MB.

August 19, 2019:

Federal court approves the settlement.

January 13, 2020:

Implementation. Claims process open for survivors.

About Class Counsel

The Plaintiffs in this matter have been represented by Class Counsel Robert Winogron, Jeremy Bouchard and Mary M. Thomson of the law firm Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP. Mr. Winogron and Mr. Bouchard have over 30 years of combined legal experience in the area of Aboriginal Law and Litigation. Ms. Thomson is a class action specialist and has 35 years of litigation experience. Gowling WLG is a national law firm which is consistently recognized for its representative work on behalf of First Nations and Aboriginal organizations across Canada.