Wabanaki Legal News, 2010
Former students of Canadian residential schools are entitled to receive money to address the harms and abuses they suffered at the schools. These are the boarding schools that operated throughout Canada for over a century. About 80,000 former students are still living.
The Canadian Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement of 2007 sets out the right to these claims. This settlement resulted from a class action lawsuit known as In re: Residential Schools Class Action Litigation. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of First Nations, Inuit, Inuvailuit, and Metis community members. The claims were against the Canadian government and various churches that operated the schools. Under the settlement, former residential school students may make two types of claims.
The first type of claim is called the Common Experience Payment (CEP). This provides payments to all former students of recognized Canadian Federal Residential Schools. Former students are eligible for the CEP. The family of a former student who has passed away may also receive the payment as long as the former student died after May 30, 2005. Payments for the first year spent living at a residential school are $10,000, and $3,000 for each year after that. A partial year can count as a year.
To file a claim for a Common Experience Payment call the Settlement Administrator at 1-866-879-4913 or go to the website - www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca - and request a CEP claim form. The deadline to apply to receive a Common Experience Payment is September 19, 2011.
The claim form will ask you to show records that you lived at one of the residential schools. If you do not have these records you can still fill out the claim form and send it to the address given. The Canadian government will contact you if more information is necessary .
The second type of payment is for those who suffered sexual or serious physical abuses at a residential school. To file this claim you must go through an Independent Assessment Process (IAP) in person in Canada. This process takes place out of court. You will not be asked to face the person who abused you. You will need to seek the assistance of a Canadian lawyer to help you file this type of claim. Any student who lived at one of the schools may be eligible. Also, a person who was not a student but was invited to take part in a school activity may be eligible. The settlement’s administrator, available by calling 1-866-879-4913, may be able to provide a list of Canadian lawyers who can help you at low cost.
The official Canadian website for IAP claims contains a Frequently Asked Questions section. This website can walk you through the process in greater detail.
Those who qualify are entitled to between $5,000 and $275,000 depending on the type of abuse and resulting harm. The deadline to register for the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is September 19, 2012.
In addition to payments, the settlement also created Native Healing programs including mental health and emotional support for former students, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to document and preserve the experience of survivors, and national commemorative projects.
Questions: Call the Settlement Administrator toll free at 1-866-879-4913 regarding the Canadian Residential Schools Settlement, how to apply for a Common Experience Payment or an Independent Assessment Process. Or go to the official Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement website
SOURCES: Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto: