Settlement agreement reached for Band class litigation

News release

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January 21, 2023 — Vancouver, BC  — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Today, Band class representatives former Chief Shane Gottfriedson and former Chief Garry Feschuk, along with the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, announced that Canada has signed an agreement with the Representative Plaintiffs who represent the 325 bands that have opted into the Band class litigation.

In this settlement, Canada will provide $2.8 billion to be placed in a not-for-profit trust, independent of the Government. Canada is committed to addressing the collective harm caused by the residential schools system and the loss of language, culture, and heritage – through this settlement  guided by the Four Pillars developed by the Representative Plaintiffs. The Four Pillars include the revival and protection of Indigenous languages, the revival and protection of Indigenous cultures, the protection and promotion of heritage, and wellness for Indigenous communities and their members. This resolution aims to revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language – to support Survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage.

The funding disbursement plan, developed by the plaintiffs, outlines an initial amount of $200,000 for each band class member to support the development of a funding proposal that reflects the objectives and purposes of the Four Pillars. These proposals will be reviewed and used to support the disbursement of the Initial Kick-Start Funds, totaling $325 million. Each Band class member will receive a share of annual investment income that is available.

Further information on the terms of the settlement will be publicly available over the next month as part of the broader notice plan. The parties are expected to appear before the Federal Court on February 27, 2023, to seek approval of the terms of the settlement. The Court will consider whether the settlement is fair, reasonable and in the best interest of the class members.

Addressing historical wrongs and the painful legacy still suffered by Survivors, their families and communities is at the heart of reconciliation, and is essential to renewing and building relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Quotes

“Our Nations started this lawsuit because we saw the devastating impacts that residential schools had on our Nations as a whole. The residential school system decimated our languages, profoundly damaged our cultures, and left a legacy of social harms. The effects go beyond my generation. It will take many generations for us to heal. This settlement is about taking steps towards undoing the damage that was done to our Nations.”

Shane Gottfriedson
Representative Plaintiff and Former Chief of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

“It has taken Canada far too long to own up to its history, own up to the genocide it committed and recognize the collective harm caused to our Nations by Residential Schools. It is time that Canada not only recognize this harm, but help undo it by walking with us. This settlement is a good first step.”

Garry Feschuk
Representative Plaintiff and Former Chief of shíshálh

“As a result of residential schools, within a few generations, sháshíshálhem went from being the first language of nearly everyone in our Nation to being on the verge of disappearing forever. We lost our last fluent speakers over the past few years. Much of this harm cannot be undone. With today’s announcement, First Nations will be able to continue restoring and revitalizing some of what was lost.”

hiwus Warren Paull
shíshálh Nation

“Canada spent over 100 years trying to destroy our languages and cultures through Residential Schools. Canada did not succeed, but it did cause profound damage. It is going to take incredible efforts by our Nations to restore our languages and culture – this settlement gives Nations the resources and tools needed to make a good start.”

Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir
Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc

“The Grand Council of the Crees is proud to have stood with Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and shíshálh Nation in this historic struggle for recognition of the harms done to our Nations as a result of Residential Schools. My hope is that this settlement will help this generation and future generations reclaim our cultures and languages.”

Dr. Matthew Coon Come
Former Grand Chief of, and representative for, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

“We believe that all Survivors deserve justice and the compensation to which they are owed. As we finalize this settlement, we are reminded of the importance of collaborative dialogue and partnership in resolving historic grievances outside of the court system. Together, we have developed a settlement that will support the Band class members in their healing journeys for generations to come.”

The Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations

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Contacts

For more information, media may contact:

Aïssatou Diop
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
aissatou.diop@rcaanc-cirnac.gc.ca

CIRNAC Media Relations:
Email: RCAANC.Media.CIRNAC@sac-isc.gc.ca
Phone: 819-934-2302

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