Update on Indian Day School Settlement Agreement

What is the difference between the Indian Day School Class Action and the Day Scholars Class Action?

The Day Schools class action is called the McLean Class Action.  It is a class action brought for the people who attended Indian Day Schools.  These schools were usually situated on reserves or in First Nation or Inuit communities.  Some may have been situated in or near Métis communities.  They were funded, controlled and managed by the Government of Canada.  They were NOT residential schools.  No students lived at Day Schools.  Schools that were funded, operated and managed by a province or by a private organization are NOT covered by this class action.

The purpose of the Day School class action is to get compensation for students who were abused at the Indian Day Schools.

The Day Scholars class action is called the Gottfriedson Class Action.  It is a class action brought for the people who attended Indian Residential Schools but who did not live there.  They went to the Residential Schools during the day for classes but did not stay there at night.  This sometimes happened when a Residential School was located in or near a First Nation or Inuit community.  The Day Scholars were left out of the Residential School Agreement and could not get the Common Experience Payment because they did not live at the school.

The purpose of the Day Scholar class action is to get the Common Experience Payment for the Day Scholars and to get compensation for their communities because of the damage done to the language and culture of their communities by the operation of the Residential Schools.

Are both of these cases being settled?

No.  There is a proposed settlement of the Day School (McLean) class action.  There is no proposed settlement of the Day Scholar (Gottfriedson) class action.

What is the Indian Day School (McLean) Settlement Agreement?

A proposed agreement has been negotiated to compensate individuals who were abused at Indian Day Schools.

Is the Agreement in force?

No.  The Indian Day School Agreement is not yet in force.  There are several steps which must take place before it comes into force.

  1. First, it must be approved by the Court. The Court hearing is scheduled for May 13, 14, 15, 2019 in Winnipeg.
  2. Second, if it is approved by the Court, former students (Survivors) at Indian Day Schools will have 60 days to decide if they want to be part of this Agreement.
  3. Third, if more than 10,000 Survivors decide they do not want to be part of the Settlement and they “opt out”, Canada can decide whether it wants to go ahead with the Agreement or whether it wants to cancel it.

Who will qualify for compensation?

Students who were abused at an Indian Day School may qualify for compensation.  The amount depends on the kind of abuse suffered.  The lowest amount of compensation (Level 1) is $10,000 if you suffered abuse like mocking or humiliation because of your Aboriginal identity or culture, threats of violence, sexual comments or some kinds of physical abuse.  It does not matter how long you were at the school.  People who spent many years at the school will get the same amount as people who spent only one year who suffered the same kind of abuse.

These are just examples; for more details, see the Settlement Agreement or contact the lawyers who negotiated the proposed settlement at the email and phone number listed below.   To obtain compensation you will have to fill out an application form within the deadline.  You may also have to provide a statement signed by a witness to the abuse.

There are five levels of compensation which may be available depending on the type of abuse suffered.  Each one will require you to provide some kind of evidence in writing, by video or pictures.

How much money is involved?

If the proposed settlement is approved, the total amount of money made available by Canada will be $1.4 billion for Level 1 abuse ($10,000 per person).  This is based on the estimate of the numbers of survivors which is between 120,000 and 140,000 survivors.

An unlimited amount of money will be made available for higher levels of abuse.

There is another $200 million for “legacy projects” which will be administered by a non-profit corporation to help with commemoration, culture and language restoration and other types of similar projects.

The lawyers (Gowlings) will receive $55 million if the settlement is approved.

How does the proposed process work?

If the proposed settlement is approved, you will have one year to file an application form with all of the documents that are required to support your claim.  There will not be any hearings.  The whole process will be in writing.

Will there be health support available if I need it?

The proposed settlement does not provide for any health support.

Can I hire a lawyer to help me?

The proposed settlement only allows the lawyers at Gowlings to help you.  In addition to the $55 million they are being paid if the proposed settlement is approved, they will be paid an extra $7 million over 4 years to help the applicants with their claims.

How long will I have to file my claim?

If the proposed settlement is approved by the court and if fewer than 10,000 people opt out, the settlement will be implemented.  Once it is in force, you will have 1 year to file your claim with all the necessary documents required.  As of April 2019, it is not in force yet, so the 1year time period has not started to run.

What happens if I don’t file my claim on time?

If you don’t file your claim before the deadline, you will get nothing and you will lose all your rights to sue Canada for anything that happened to you at the Day School.

Where can I get more information?

You can call or email the lawyers who negotiated the proposed settlement.

Email:        dayschools@gowlingwlg.com

Phone:       1-844-539-3815

Fax:           1-613-563-9869

How can I tell the Court what I think about the Proposed Settlement?

You can go onto the website at www.indiandayschools.com and download the form to either object to the proposed settlement, or to speak in favour of it.  You do not have to attend the Court hearing in Winnipeg, but you can if you want to.  There is no funding provided for travel expenses.

If you want to make your opinion known, you must fill out and submit the objection form or the support form before May 3, 2019.

If you file an objection, it does not mean you opted out.  You will still be covered by the proposed settlement if it is approved unless you also opt out during the opt out period which won’t begin until after the Court approves the proposed settlement.