Category: Residential School Claims

Residential School Survivor Receives First Settlement Payment

by stemwebadmin

The first compensation cheque in the largest abuse claims settlement in history was issued today.
An Alberta teacher who was forced to spend 10 years in one of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools was presented with her cheque by Assembly of First Nations Chief, Phil Fontaine. You can read more here.
The Residential Schools settlement is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and, I believe, is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. I posted details here.

Largest Class Action in Canadian History Moves Forward

by stemwebadmin

Kathy Shaw at has posted a link to a story in the Anglican Journal about the Canadian Indian Residential Schools abuse claims settlement.
The article refers to the settlement as the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. It certainly is that. But more importantly it is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. More than TWO BILLION dollars in compensation for loss of language and culture to 80,000 potential claimants . Plus a compensation program that will pay up to an additional $275,000.00 in compensation to victims of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse.
I have represented the Association for the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School for twelve years. I am proud to have been part of the team that negotiated what is sure to be an historic claims settlement.

Indian Residential Schools Settlement Finalized!

by stemwebadmin

The National Class action settlement to compensate up to 80,000 former residents of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools passed it’s final hurdle today.
The deadline for survivors to “opt out” of the settlement has passed and the deal is now final.
Our client, Nora Bernard was intrumental in achieving the deal, the largest class action settlement in Canada. You can read more about Nora Bernard, and the details of the settlement here and here.
I am proud to have represented Nora Bernard and the hundreds of other survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School and to have played a part in negotiating the largest abuse claims settlement in history.

Historic Abuse Claims Settlement Set to Pass Final Hurdle

by stemwebadmin

The Globe and Mail has reported that the largest abuse claims settlement in history is likely to pass it’s final hurdle today. Upwards of 80,000 former students of Church run Indian Residential schools are set to receive payments for sexual abuse, physical abuse and psychological abuse that they suffered in the schools.
Today is the deadline for former students to “opt out” of the class action settlement. If more than 5000 students drop out of the settlement, the court approval order considers the deal null and void. As of today, less than a hundred former students across the country have opted out and it is expected that the deal will be finalized today.
The class action settlement will pay out two billion dollars in compensation to students who were forced to attend the schools.
In addition, former students who were seriously physically abused, sexually abused or who suffered serious psychological effects from attending the schools will be entitled to apply for additional payments of up to $250,000.00 each. It is expected that these payments will total an additional one billion to two billion dollars.
I am proud to have represented hundreds of survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential Schools over the last dozen years. I wrote about the history of the claims negotiations here.
When the opt out deadline passes the Shubenacadie survivors, and 80,000 other former residential schools students, will have taken the final step towards receiving a recognition of the harm that they suffered as a result of Canada’s attempt at cultural assimilation to eliminate native people.
It’s about time.

Bishop sex abuser changed the law in Canada

by stemwebadmin

A disgraced former Roman Catholic Bishop convicted of sexual abuse has died. Hubert O’Connor was convicted of sexually abusing children at the Cariboo Indian Residential School in British Columbia.
During his trial O’Connor’s lawyers sought access to the victims’ psychological records. The right of an accused to make an application for a court order to receive copies of a victim’s therapeutic records was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada; a procedure that became known as an “O’Connor application”.
In response to an outcry from women’s groups and abuse survivors, the Government of Canada eventually passsed Bill C-46 amending the Criminal Code of Canada to protect the privacy rights of victims of abuse.
You can read about O’Connor here and here .

660 Million Dollar Payment (second) Largest Abuse Claim Settlement to Date?

by stemwebadmin

A California judge has approved a $660 million sexual abuse settlement by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The settlement means that 500 + victims of abuse will not have to testify in court.
Terms of the settlement also require the Church to release confidential internal files showing steps the RC Church took to cover up the abuse over many decades.
You can read more about the settlement here.
The settlement is being reported as a record breaking payment to settle abuse claims. While the agreement is certainly the largest to date in the U.S., the 660 million dollar payment pales in comparison to the 5 BILLION DOLLAR settlement that the Canadian government and several religious organizations have agreed to pay to 70,000 survivors of abuse in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
I posted about the Indian Residential School’s Abuse Claims settlement here.

Indian Residential Schools: A Brief History of the Largest Abuse Claim Settlement Ever

by stemwebadmin

Between 1920 and 1996 the Canadian government engaged in a concerted effort to eliminate Native Canadian Aboriginal people through a process of forced assimilation. Aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in Church run “Residential Schools” where they were prevented from speaking their own language and practising their spiritual beliefs, and horribly mistreated.
By 1995 former Residential School students across the country had filed dozens of individual civil claims for compensation for physical and sexual abuse they suffered in the schools.
In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples described the Residential School Assimilation process:
“The removal of children from their homes and the denial of their identity through attacks on their language and spiritual beliefs were cruel. But these practices were compounded by the too frequent lack of basic care — the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, medical services and a healthful environment, and the failure to ensure that the children were safe from teachers and staff who abused them physically, sexually and emotionally. In educational terms, too, the schools — day and residential — failed dramatically, with participation rates and grade achievement levels lagging far behind those for non-Aboriginal students.”
Here’s the link to the full Royal Commission Report
In 1996 I was retained by Nora Bernard to file a Representative Action on behalf of all of the former students of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia. The claim was the first of it’s kind in Canada to seek compensation for all former students of a Residential School and the first to seek compensation for loss of language and culture. Here’s the link to Arnold McKiggan Hutchison’s webpage for the Shubenacadie claims
In 1997 my friend and colleage Russ Raikes filed the Cloud class action on behalf of all former students of the Mohawk Institute Residential School and their family members.
In 1998, facing more than a thousand claims from former Residential School students, Canada issued a “Statement of Reconciliation” apologizing for the “tragedy” of the Residential Schools.
In 2000 the number of claims filed against Canada had topped 6,000.
In 2002 more than 8,000 abuse claims had been filed against Canada. Thompson Rogers filed a National Class Action on behalf of Charles Baxter and Elijah Baxter seeking compensation for all former Indian Residential School students in Canada, and their family members. The Shubenacadie survivors joined the Baxter National Class Action.
By 2004 Canada was facing more than 12,000 Residential School abuse claims. In December 2004 the Ontario Court of Appeal certified the Cloud class action.
In 2005 the Supreme Court of Canada denied Canada’s request for leave to appeal the Cloud decision. In May 2005 Canada appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci to negotiate a “lasting resolution” to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. Here’s the full text of the announcement
I am proud to have participated in the negotiations with Canada on behalf of the Shubenacadie Survivors as part of the Baxter class action’s negotiating team. Other stakeholders included the Assembly of First Nations, representatives for former students, and Religious organizations that ran the schools. After six months of negotiations the parties reached an Agreement in Principle to compensate former Residential School students and their families.
The settlement includes an immediate fund of 1.9 Billion dollars to compensate all former Residential School students, estimated to be as many as 80,000 people. The settlement also requires Canada to fund an ongoing “Individual Assessment Process” to provide additional compensation for former students who suffered serious physical abuse and sexual abuse. The IAP claims are estimated to require further payments of 3 Billion dollars to Residential School abuse survivors over the next five years.
So there it is. 80,000 potential claimants. Up to 5 Billion dollars in compensation. The largest abuse claim settlement ever. But for those children who suffered through Canada’s misguided attempts at assimilation, and the generations that have felt the ripple effects of the harm caused by the schools, it is just the first step in a long process of healing and reconciliation.

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