Articles Posted in Residential School Claims

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It has been suggested that Ralph Rowe is one of Canada’s most prolific pedophiles. Rowe was an Anglican Priest and Scoutmaster. He was also a pilot and he flew to 20 remote First Nations communities in Northern Ontario and Manitoba. Rowe would lead church services, organize youth group outings and scout camping trips where he used his position of trust and authority to prey on children.

Controversial deal

In 1994 Ralph Rowe pleaded guilty to 39 sex abuse charges. He was sentenced to 6 years. But part of the plea bargain that resulted in Rowe’s guilty plea involved an agreement that Rowe would not be sentenced to further prison time for similar convictions.

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Class action settlement announced

A 16 year fight for compensation ended yesterday when the Province of Nova Scotia and former residents of the Home for Colored Children announced the details of a class action filed by former residents.

About 140 former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children filed a class action seeking compensation for what they describe as years of neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by children in the school.

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One of the transformative experiences of my legal career has been representing Nora Bernard and the other survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. Ii has been an honour to represent Nora (RIP) and more than 600 former residents of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia for the past 18 years.

Nora Bernard filed the first class action against Canada seeking compensation for all former residents of a residential school.

Nora and the Shubenacadie survivors eventually joined other survivors from other schools in other provinces who worked together to create the National Indian Residential Schools Class Action Settlement. At the time it was the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and I believe to date it is still the largest historical redress settlement in the world.

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CTV News has reported that Archbishop Richard Smith of the Archdiocese of Edmonton has issued a formal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in running the Indian Residential Schools.

Smith said:

“…we the Catholic Bishops of Alberta and Northwest Territories apologize to those who experienced sexual and physical abuse in residential schools under Catholic administration.”

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For close to twenty years I have had the privilege of representing Nora Bernard and the survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. I was a member of the steering committee that negotiated the landmark National Indian Residential Schools Class Action settlement and I have had the great honour of helping hundreds of former residential school students in the claims process.

The Residential Schools Class action was the largest class action settlement in Canada, effecting nearly 70,000 aboriginal people across Canada. but even that massive court case hasn’t addressed all of the harms that aboriginal people have suffered as a result of actions of various federal and provincial government actions.

So I have followed with great interest the various claims that have been filed on behalf of aboriginal people across Canada based on issues similar to the loss of language and culture arguments that we pursued in the National Residential School claims.

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I have been representing the survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School for 17 years.

As I explained during the Truth and Reconcilaition Hearings that were held in Halifax, Nora Bernard played a key role in the landmark Indian Residential School class action. The class action settlement was the largest historical redress settlement in the world.

For the last 5 years, former students of Indian Residential Schools who were victims of physical or sexual abuse have been able to apply for compensation under the Independant Assessment Process.

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One of my clients sent me a link to a page with a number of videos from last weeks Truth and Reconcilation Commission hearings in Halifax.

Of particular interest is a video montage titled Nora Bernard – Eastern Thunder.

There was a wonderful event Wednesday evening where Nora was honoured for her work on behalf of Residential School survivors. I was delighted to be invited by Nora’s family to say a few words about Nora and her contribution to the National Indian Residential Schools class action.

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A Jesuit Order that established and ran Residential schools for mostly aboriginal children in the North West United States and Alaska has agreed to one of the largest abuse compensation settlements in United States history.

The $166 million settlement also requires the Society of Jesus, to offer written apologies to up to 500 abuse survivors. The Society is also required to turn over records of approximately 140 priests, nuns, brothers and lay workers accused of abuse from the 1950s through the 1980s.

Largest Catholic Abuse Settlement

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A story about the survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School and their families.

I am proud to have played a small part in helping Nora Bernard (rest her soul) achieve accountability and justice for the Shubenacadie survivors and thousands of other residential schools students across Canada.

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Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of being invited to present at the Canadian Institute’s 9th Annual summit on Institutional Liability for Sexual Assault & Abuse.

The two day conference brought together plaintiff and defence counsel from across the country to discuss emerging issues in the law pertaining to liability for child abuse.

This is the third time I have been invited to speak by the Canadian Institute. I was asked to make two presentations. I presented on the use of class actions as a tool for the resolution of institutional sexual abuse claims.