Settlement Agreement reached for former students of Indian Day Schools
March 15, 2019 – Ottawa, ON – Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
The Government of Canada is continuing the work of righting past wrongs, especially those involving Indigenous children, by resolving Childhood Claims through negotiation rather than litigation.
On March 12, 2019, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, along with Claudette Commanda and Roger Augustine, announced that parties have reached a proposed settlement agreement recognizing the harms suffered by former students of Indian Day Schools.
From now until May 3, 2019, class members will have an opportunity to review the proposed settlement agreement and provide their comments to the Court. In May 2019, the parties will seek Federal Court approval of the proposed settlement. Once approved by the Court, and following opt-out and appeal periods, compensation and other benefits will be available to eligible class members.
The Government of Canada is proud of the work accomplished together with former students and their counsel in reaching this proposed settlement agreement. We will continue to work with survivors and Indigenous partners to advance reconciliation, promote Indigenous languages and culture, and support the healing and commemoration of those affected by the harmful policies of the past.
“Today marks a historic step forward, as we have reached a proposed settlement agreement for former students of Indian Day Schools. This truly is an example of the type of work we can accomplish together when we negotiate rather than litigate resolution of Childhood Claims. It wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless leadership, advocacy, and commitment to justice demonstrated by the class members. Canada is committed to righting historical wrongs, and will continue to work with survivors in the spirit of healing, commemoration and reconciliation.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
“I was six years old when I attended the Congway School. I was excited and happy on the first day of school because I would meet new friends. My excitement turned to fear because the teacher was very strict and very mean to the children. From that day on, each school day, I would dread going to school because I feared the teacher. I was repeatedly physically abused. She would hit us with a ruler if we were not sitting properly or if she did not like the way we looked or spoke. We were punished if we spoke Algonquin. We were called “savages”. She constantly told me I was lazy and would not amount to anything good. I felt helpless and the fear walked with me for a long time. I want the world to know the abuse suffered by First Nation children in the Canadian government’s ‘school’ system. First Nation children and Inuit children experienced hardships in government run day schools, our truths must be told. No child should experience suffering and pain because of the color of their skin or culture.”
Claudette Commanda, Class Member
Beginning in the 1920s, close to 200,000 Indigenous children attended over 700 federally operated Indian Day Schools. Many students who attended these schools experienced trauma, and in some cases, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of individuals entrusted with their care.
The proposed settlement agreement includes $10,000 in individual compensation for thousands of Indigenous people who suffered harm while attending federally operated Indian Day Schools. Those who experienced physical and sexual abuse are eligible for additional compensation, with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 based on the severity of the abuses suffered.
The proposed settlement agreement also provides an investment of $200 million to the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation for Legacy Projects that support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration for class members and their communities.
On May 13, 14, and 15, 2019, the parties will seek Federal Court approval of the proposed settlement agreement. At that time, the Court will consider the comments made by class members and the submissions of counsel and will decide whether the settlement agreement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the class members.
Canada urges all those who could be impacted by this settlement agreement to become informed by visiting: http://www.indiandayschools.com/.
For more information, media may contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
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