Federal Indian Day School Settlement claims process now open
Ottawa- Today marks a significant and meaningful occasion as the Federal Indian Day Schools settlement takes effect. 1000s of Indigenous people who suffered harm because they attended federally-run Indian Day Schools can now apply for long-awaited compensation. Work is also set to begin to bring about healing, education and commemoration. This settlement is due a class action started by Gerry McLean from Manitoba who passed away in 2019 after the federal Liberal government agreed to a settlement.
The settlement agreement was negotiated by the Federal Liberal government and survivors. It is an example that the priorities of survivors can be achieved through negotiation instead of litigation. It combined individual compensation with investments to support former students in their ongoing journeys toward healing. This settlement is based on the premise that those who were sent to Federal Indian Day Schools were harmed. All eligible class members will receive a minimum of $10,000 in individual compensation for the harm suffered by attending the schools. Additional compensation is available for those who experienced more severe cases of abuse.
Roger Augustine who was part of the class action said “With this next step in the Settlement process, it is time for us to focus on our healing and look forward to the health and wellness and language and culture initiatives that will ensure what we and our families endured will never be forgotten.”
As such the settlement also provides $200 million for community-based Legacy Projects to support commemoration projects, health and wellness programs, “truth-telling” events and the restoration and preservation of Indigenous languages and culture. This funding will be administered by the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation, an independent, not-for-profit corporation.
Grants will be made available to organizations to carry out projects within communities. The Corporation is in the process of developing the guidelines and procedures for organizations to follow in applying for grants and these will be made available in the coming weeks.
The Federal Indian Day Schools settlement represents a historic step forward in Canada’s efforts to address the harm caused by federally-run Indian Day Schools. Canada 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.
Carolyn Bennett the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations said “Today, we honour the legacy of Garry McLean and the work he did with other courageous survivors to right historical wrongs. Thousands of Indigenous people who were harmed by attending federally-operated Indian Day Schools are now able to seek compensation. This is an important step towards healing and justice for day school survivors and their families. This agreement demonstrates a comprehensive approach accomplished by working with survivors which cannot be achieved through court processes. Working with their representatives, we are have made sure that as well as compensation, the Government of Canada is making important investments to ensure access to support for healing, commemoration and culture for the survivors. ”
On the other side is Claudette Commanda a plaintiff who said in a press release ”This compensation is an important next step in the process of healing and revitalizing our languages, cultures and traditions. Not only does this Settlement recognize the harm Indian Day Schools did to our languages and culture, it also validates the significance of First Nation languages and cultures for our people. First Nation people hold to the belief that our languages and cultures are our inherent gifts given to us by our Creator, and we must ensure our languages and cultures will forever be here for our children, grandchildren and our future as the Original and First people of this country.”
Robert-Falcon Ouellette a former MP and chair of the Indigenous caucus said “it is great to see what can happen when people sit down and talk. There is less need to fight and be confrontational, but by working together we can get things done.”
- Beginning in the 1920s, close to 200,000 Indigenous children attended federally-operated Indian Day Schools across Canada. 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 Federal Indian Day Schools settlement will provide $10,000 in individual compensation for thousands of Indigenous people who suffered harm by attending federally operated Indian Day Schools. Additional compensation will be provided for further incidents of physical and sexual abuse, with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $200,000, based on the severity of the abuses suffered.
- The settlement also provides an investment of $200 million in the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation for legacy projects that support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration for class members and their communities.
- The claims process is being managed by a third-party administrator, Deloitte. For information on how to apply for compensation, please contact the claims administrator at:
- Toll-free: 1-888-221-2898
- Website: indiandayschoolsclaims.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Should any class members require assistance with their claim, class counsel will continue to provide legal support, free of charge, during the claims administration process. Class counsel, Gowling WLG, can be reached by calling 1-844-539-3815.