Prepared by: the Indian Day School Class Counsel, Gowling WLG
The 60 days between the public sharing of the settlement agreement and the approval hearings is a very important time for discussion about the terms of the settlement. A number of questions have been raised over the past two weeks, and that is exactly how this process is supposed to work. People have the right to look closely at the settlement and raise concerns. They also have the right to clear and factual information. To that end, here are the five fundamental facts of the settlement that people should know.
The Federal Indian Day School Settlement was designed to:
- Meet the needs of an aging population: Indian Day School survivors are getting older; we lose as many as 2,000 survivors each year. That means that with every year of delay, thousands of people lose the opportunity to have their harm acknowledged. The IDS process is specifically designed to provide expedited payment to those who are eligible.
- Be inclusive and accessible: The settlement includes ALL individuals who attended a Federal Indian Day School, including First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. It’s important for people to understand that the baseline harm for claims is such that nearly everyone who is eligible for the settlement will be eligible for at least “level 1” compensation ($10,000).
- Treat Class Members with dignity and respect: The IDS process is specifically designed to avoid the lengthy and often re-traumatizing legal process of evidence collection, cross-examination and a confrontational hearing process. Instead, the IDS claims process is designed to be simple, culturally sensitive, non-adversarial, and user-friendly. There are minimal verification requirements, and the documentation people may be asked to provide (for example, photos or personal correspondence) won’t require a difficult process or third-party to obtain.
- Respond to new information: The “Schedule K” list, which currently contains over 700 federally-run Indian Day Schools is an evolving list. There is a built-in process to update it as needed. Anyone who believes there should be a school added to the list can contact Class Counsel. They will be asked to provide whatever information they can about the schools (for example, school photos or class pictures). Class Counsel will then provide this information to Canada, who has independent researchers dedicated to investigating these schools. As soon as a new federally-run school is verified, it is added to the list.
- Provide direct support to Class Members and keep them informed: Class Counsel is committed to providing as much support to Class Members as they need throughout this process. We have visited dozens of communities across the country, met with community leaders and listened carefully to the experiences of community members In person, through our call centre, our offices across Canada, and through our ongoing community presentations – we will remain accessible and available to Class Members, to help in any way they need (including in regard to documentation), no matter where they live. Individual members of our team, including our lead counsel, have mental health and wellness training and provide referrals to culturally appropriate mental health services as needed. We do this work at no cost at all to Class Members.
Honouring Garry McLean’s Legacy: The Truth about the Indian Day School Settlement
By: Roger Augustine, Claudette Commanda, Angel Sampson, Margaret Swan, Mariette Buckshot
In March, when we gathered together to announce the news of a settlement for survivors of Federal Indian Day Schools, someone very important was missing. Garry McLean. This man, who we all called “Sunny Boy” for his contagious smile and joy, spent the last decade of his life fighting for justice for IDS survivors. While we lost Garry just weeks before the announcement, there is no question that the settlement, which bears his name, is infused with his spirit.
If Garry were with us today, he could tell you what it took to achieve this milestone. He could tell you about the dark hours when it seemed like the case would never move forward, when we all felt abandoned. And yet, he would focus more on the positives such as when he finally connected with our current Class Counsel, Bob Winogron and Jeremy Bouchard – in Garry’s words “I finally felt the momentum and progress needed for this case.” We feel the very same momentum and progress.
Garry could tell you about the thousands of survivors across the country that he and the team met with and listened to – led by Garry, together as a team, they worked to build a survivor-first settlement and process.
It breaks our hearts that Garry is not here. But we are; and, we will uphold Garry’s work and success. We will not allow anyone to mischaracterize his legacy.
The settlement achieved through Garry’s determination honours the principles he and so many of us have fought for – the fundamental principles of:
Inclusivity: Anyone who attended an Indian Day School experienced harm emotionally, physically, or both. All IDS survivors will be eligible for at least the base level of compensation set at $10,000.
Dignity: Unlike the Residential School process no one will be put on a stand and cross-examined about their story. And no one is going to have to pay lawyers out of their own pockets to gather mounds of evidence. Survivors have told us that they want a simple process, one that will not cause more trauma. That is a guiding principle behind the IDS process. In fact, the settlement agreement is very clear and explicit: claimants’ stories are to be believed and trusted at face value.
Future generations: One of the most important outcomes of this settlement, and something Garry fought for, is a $200 million legacy fund that will help our communities with healing and wellness programs, and, the support our children and grandchildren need to reclaim our languages, cultures, and traditions.
Justice in our lifetime: If Garry’s passing shows us anything, it is that for survivors time is precious. We lose 2,000 IDS survivors every year. We cannot wait another five or ten years to have this resolved. This settlement will ensure that as many survivors as possible live to see justice.
This settlement is a critical milestone and people deserve to understand it and how it came to be. We encourage our fellow survivors to ask questions and learn the facts by reaching out directly to Class Counsel. Call 1-844-539-3815 or visit www.indiandayschools.com
Miigwech, kinanâskomitin, thank you.
In May, the Federal court will be asked to approve the proposed settlement for a nation-wide class action lawsuit against Canada to compensate survivors for harms they suffered while attending federally operated Indian Day Schools. If approved, survivors will be eligible to claim compensation. We urge all those potentially impacted to become informed about the proposed settlement and their rights relating to it.
About the Proposed Settlement
The proposed settlement with Canada includes everyone who attended a Federal Indian Day School. Compensation ranges from $10,000 for harms associated with attending a Federal Indian Day School to a maximum of $200,000 for repeated sexual abuse and/or physical assault leading to long-term injury. Eligible Class Members will receive a payment reflecting the most severe harms they suffered while attending an Indian Day School, irrespective of the number of schools attended.
The proposed settlement also includes a $200M Legacy Fund to support commemoration projects, health and wellness programs, as well as language and culture initiatives for communities.
Rights and Actions
Federal Indian Day School survivors who agree with the proposed settlement need not take any action at this time. Information on how to make a claim for compensation will become available if the proposed settlement is approved in May .
Survivors who wish to show their support for the proposed settlement can submit a Statement of Support.
Survivors who disagree with the proposed settlement can formally object using the Objection Form and these objections will be taken into consideration by the court.
Survivors also have the right to address the court orally during the approval hearings in May, to express both concerns as well as support.
The final decision on approval of the settlement belongs to the judge.
Key Milestones and Next Steps
- Objection and Statement of Support Deadline: Anyone wishing to object to the proposed settlement, or provide a statement of support, must submit their statements in writing to class counsel by May 3, 2019. Forms will be available on the website.
- Hearings: The settlement approval hearings will take place at the Federal Court in Winnipeg from May 13-15, 2019. Class members wishing to attend the hearing may do so, and those who wish to speak at the hearings, either in support of the proposed settlement or to share their concerns may do so .
- Approval Decision: The court will announce its decision regarding the settlement approval after the hearings conclude, sometime after May 15th.
- Opt-Out Period: If the settlement is approved, class members will have an opportunity to opt out of the settlement. Those who opt out will not receive compensation from this settlement, but they will retain the right to bring their own claim against Canada for harms suffered .
It is important to understand the difference between objecting to the settlement and opting-out. People have the right to object before the hearing, and still receive compensation if the settlement is approved in court.
For more information visit our FAQ section.
- Making a Claim: If the settlement is approved, information about how to make a claim for compensation will be posted on the Federal Indian Day School website and communicated broadly.
Garry McLean and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations (Carolyn Bennett) announced that an Agreement-in-Principle has been reached between the parties. The Agreement-in-Principle includes individual compensation for harms suffered while attending an Indian Day School including cultural harm and physical and sexual abuse. In addition to the individual compensation, the Agreement-in-Principle includes $200 million in funding available to support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration. Specific details regarding individual compensation will be made available in early 2019. The Court still has to approve any terms of settlement, which we intend to seek in spring of 2019.