Day School Attendees of Residential Schools Seeking Reparation

Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, not all survivors of residential schools were included in the 2006 Settlement Agreement. The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provided for two types of individualized compensation: (1) the Common Experience Payment, which only provides compensation for former residents of a residential school and is solely based on the number of years the individual attended; and (2) the Independent Assessment Process, which provides compensation for certain abuses and harms to both residents and attendees of residential schools.

Many members of Canada’s Aboriginal communities were excluded from the Common Experience Payments in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, not because they did not attend residential schools and suffer cultural, linguistic and social damage, but because they did not reside at residential schools. Those Aboriginal children who did not reside at a residential school were excluded from the Settlement Agreement because they attended a residential school located in or near their community as day students or because they were billeted at a residence near the school provided by a church.

Now, a number of “day school” class actions have been filed seeking compensation for damages suffered by attendees of residential schools whose claims have been ignored and tragically excluded from the 2006 Settlement Agreement. These day school class actions also seek compensation for Indian Bands as a result of the residential school policy and its establishment and operations damaging their economic viability, self-government and laws, language, land base and land-based teachings, and traditional spiritual and religious practices.

For example, at the Sechelt Indian Residential School converts to Catholicism were forced to burn or give to the agents of Canada centuries-old totem poles, regalia, masks and other paraphernalia of their medicine men and to abandon their potlatches, dancing and winter festivities. Because the Sechelt Indian Residential School was physically located in the shíshálh community, the church and government eyes were upon the Elders, who were punished severely for practising their culture or speaking their language and passing this on to future generations.

The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has called upon the federal government to work collaboratively with plaintiffs not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement to have their legal issues resolved expeditiously. Furthermore, the Commission called upon the federal government to not use limitation defences to evade liability from their actions that have caused unprecedented abuse and harm to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.

Post by: Lee Carter

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