N.L. residential school survivors’ lawyers reach $50M settlement with Ottawa
Woman who testified she was sexually abused as a child says the class action case has dragged on too long
CBC News Posted: May 10, 2016 7:51 AM NT Last Updated: May 10, 2016 10:32 AM NT
Toby Obed, a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit by residential school survivors in Newfoundland.
A $50-million settlement has been reached for hundreds of residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador who have been involved in a lengthy class action with the federal government.
Former students also will receive $2 million for reconciliation and healing.
They learned of the settlement in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court on Tuesday morning.
Lawyers expect 750 to 900 people will be compensated.
Although lawyers can’t bind Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to apologize for the abuses students endured while in the schools, many expect he will.
About a third of the settlement amount is expected to be paid to lawyers for the plaintiffs from three law firms.
Class-action lawyers say federal lawyers fought every step of the way until the Liberals were elected last fall.
Justice Robert Stack will rule in late September if the court accepts the out-of-court settlement.
Below is an older version of this story.
Lawyers are expected to update the status of the Newfoundland and Labrador residential school class action in St. John’s Tuesday morning.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs claim the federal government failed to live up to its responsibilities to Indigenous people in the province after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada in 1949.
Lawyers for the federal government argue Canada did not set up or operate the schools and can’t be held responsible for what happened to students at them.
The case that was launched almost a decade ago went to trial last fall.
Cindy Dwyer testified she was physically and sexually abused as a student in Labrador.
Dwyer, an Inuk from Nain who went to a school in North West River, said appearing in court triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“I want to recover from all of this. I want to start my life all over and I hope and pray that everyone in this class action group can do the same,” Dwyer said Monday.
Lawyers say dozens of former students have died since the case went to court in 2007. (CBC)
The trial adjourned in late February. Lawyers were given until Tuesday to either reach a settlement or restart the trial.
‘I want everyone to think about all the people that we lost along the way.’– Cindy Dwyer, residential school survivor
The class action case was launched after a more than $4-billion federal settlement and apology to Canadian residential school survivors excluded people from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Dwyer says the case should have been settled years ago.
“I want everyone to think about all the people that we lost along the way that didn’t get to see this day because there were many people in these eight years that we’ve lost,” she said.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say dozens of former students have died since 2007.
Dwyer hopes Trudeau will eventually travel to Labrador to apologize to former residential school students there.