school students win $4B compensation
and Janice Tibbetts,
Calgary Herald; CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, December 16,
More than 10,000 former students of now-defunct
Indian residential schools will start receiving cheques by next summer
following a historic $4 billion deal approved by courts across Canada on
The ruling affects about 80,000
former students of the defunct schools, believed to be all living survivors,
and ends more than a decade of litigation involving slightly more than 10,500
claims -- 3,950 in Alberta.
"This is the largest
class-action settlement in Canada and one of the largest in the world,"
said Calgary lawyer Vaughn Marshall, whose firm represents more than 700
"We strongly urge everyone to
come forward and get information to process the claims."
Up to $2 billion has been set aside
for common experience settlement and a further $2 billion for students who
suffered serious physical abuse or sexual abuse.
Marshall said everyone who attended
a residential school, run by the federal government and various churches, will
receive a payment of $10,000 for the first year plus $3,000 for each additional
year, for culture and religious violations.
He said about 10 per cent of the
claimants qualify for the sexual abuse or serious physical abuse or
psychological damage, ranging from $20,000 to $30,000 on the low end up to
$300,000 for major abuse.
The average payout will be about $24,000,
based on the amount of time they lived in the schools.
Phil Fontaine, grand chief of the
Assembly of First Nations, predicted the "vast majority" of former
students will ratify the deal within a six-month deadline, putting an end to
the lawsuits filed against the government.
"The settlement agreement
represents our future as much as it speaks to the past in our
communities," said Fontaine, who attended a residential school in
"We have in this agreement
recognition that harm was done to our people and that those who harmed our
people are prepared to accept their responsibility."
Calgary Court of Queen's Bench
Justice Terry McMahon, one of eight judges across Canada to rule Friday, said
the settlement is supported by all parties. "The claims are unique in many
of the issues raised. The settlement is equally unique and likely without
precedence," he said.
Calgary Herald 2006