Indian Day Schools (McLean) Agreement-in-Principle


Date: December 6, 2018

The mistreatment of Indigenous children by successive Canadian governments has left a tragic legacy that we still see today. Canada deeply regrets its past actions and policies that denied Indigenous children their languages and culture and is committed to reconciliation and laying the foundation for multi-generational healing.

Beginning in the 1920s, close to 200,000 Indigenous children attended federally operated Indian Day Schools. Many students who attended these schools experienced trauma associated with cultural harms, and in some cases, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of individuals entrusted with their care.

Originally filed in 2009 on behalf of Indigenous people (and their families) who attended an Indian Day School, Garry Leslie McLean et al v. Attorney General of Canada was certified by the Federal Court of Canada on June 21, 2018. Over the past few months, the Government of Canada and the parties have been engaged in negotiations with the goal of resolving this litigation in a fair, compassionate, and respectful manner that combines individual compensation with forward-looking investments.

The Agreement-in-Principle represents a major milestone in resolving this litigation. Parties are working to finalize the settlement agreement in order to seek approval from the Federal Court of Canada. The fairness hearing is targeted for late spring 2019.

The key elements of the Agreement-in-Principle are as follows:

  • Individual compensation for harms associated with attendance at an Indian Day School and physical and sexual abuse;
  • A $200 million investment to support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration;
  • Funding for legal fees. Plaintiffs' counsel have committed that they will not seek additional legal costs from payments made to class members in order to ensure that compensation intended for plaintiffs is preserved for them; and
  • Separate legal fees will be made available to class counsel to support additional legal work on behalf of class members.

The McLean Agreement-in-Principle demonstrates Canada's commitment to righting historical wrongs through negotiation rather than litigation; it allows parties to go beyond the remedies that can be granted by the courts and to explore concrete ways to address healing, language, culture and commemoration.

Canada will continue to work with survivors and Indigenous partners to advance reconciliation and support the healing and commemoration of those affected by the harmful policies of the past.

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