Landmark settlement includes more than 40 day schools attended by Inuit

Eligible Indigenous day school survivors can apply for payments ranging from $10,000 to $200,000

Students at a federal day school in Cape Dorset in April 1964. Former students of 27 federal day schools in what is now Nunavut and 11 federal day schools in what is now Nunavik are eligible for compensation under a settlement agreement that was approved in Federal Court on Monday, Aug. 19. (Library and Archives Canada)

By Jim Bell

Inuit who in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s attended any of a list of more than 40 federal government day schools are eligible for cash compensation under a $1.3-billion settlement agreement that the Federal Court of Canada approved on Aug. 19.

The court’s decision settles a lawsuit, filed in 2009, that’s known as the “Indian Day School Class Action” or “Mclean Class Action for Federal Day Schools,” after the late Garry Leslie McLean, a federal day school survivor who launched the original statement of claim.

The federal government and lawyers representing the plaintiffs reached a proposed settlement this past March. After hearings held in May, a Federal Court approved the settlement on Monday.

The settlement compensates Indigenous people who—because they attended federal day schools—were left out of the $1.9-billion residential school settlement agreement reached in 2007.

Under the day school settlement, the federal government will put about $1.3 billion into a special corporation that will hold a fund from which compensation payments will be made to survivors.

All survivors are eligible for individual compensation of $10,000 each.

But for repeated sexual abuse or physical assault leading to long-term injury, individual survivors, depending on the degree of abuse, are eligible for payments ranging from $50,000 to $200,000.

And the settlement will also create a $200-million legacy fund for commemoration projects, language and culture projects, and health and wellness programs.

The lawyers who handled the class action will get paid $55 million, and the settlement sets aside $7 million to help pay the legal costs of survivors who make claims.

How to apply

Survivors can start applying for compensation now, but payouts won’t start until 120 days after the Aug. 19 settlement date.

To make a claim, you should go to the website, download a PDF of the claims form, fill it out and send it to Gowling WLG Canada, the law firm that is acting on behalf of class action members.

Survivors will have two and a half years to make a claim. For more information, check out the FAQ section of the website.

There, you can also find a complete list of eligible schools.

Survivors may opt out

Those survivors who aren’t happy with the settlement agreement and who wish to pursue their own lawsuits may decide to opt out of the deal within 90 days of the Aug. 19 settlement date.

Survivors may do that by downloading an opt-out form here. You then fill it out, and send it by either email, fax or mail to Gowling WLG Canada.

Those survivors who do opt out will get no compensation, but they’ll retain the right to file their own lawsuits.

“Opting out is a serious and permanent decision,” Gowling WLG says on its website.

Inuit, Métis, First Nations all eligible

Despite the use of the term “Indian day schools,” all Indigenous people—Inuit, Métis or First Nations—who attended one of the listed schools is eligible for compensation payments.

“Using this word was not an easy choice, because we recognize that it has negative connotations for many people. Federal ‘Indian Day Schools’ were created under Canada’s ‘Indian Act,’ which applied to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples,” the law firm handling the class action, Gowling WLG, said on their website.

So of the more than 700 schools listed in the agreement, the number of schools likely attended by Inuit breaks down like this:

• In what is now Nunavut: 27 federal day schools, including schools that operated in communities whose populations were relocated to other places, such as Port Burwell, Padloping Island, and South Camp on the Belcher Islands.

They also include the Apex Hill and Sir Martin Frobisher federal day schools, and schools in multiple locations that over time evolved into today’s settled communities.

But to be eligible, you must have attended one of those 27 schools prior to April 1, 1970, when responsibility for those schools was transferred to the Government of the Northwest Territories.

• In what is now Nunavik: 11 federal day schools. Most are listed under old community names that aren’t used anymore, sometimes with eccentric spellings, such as Great Whale Federal Day School (Kuujjuarapik), Wakeham Bay Government School (Kangiqsujuaq), Notre-Dame d’Ivugivik School (Ivujivik) and Inocedjouac School (Inukjuak).

In most cases, responsibility for these 11 Nunavik schools was transferred to the Kativik School Board on Sept. 1, 1978.

• In what is now the Northwest Territories: at least four federal day schools, located in Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour, Holman Island and Inuvik.

Responsibility for those schools was transferred to the GNWT on April 1, 1969.

That means former students of schools such as Gordon Robertson Education Centre in Iqaluit, Sir John Franklin School in Yellowknife, the Keewatin Regional Education Centre in Rankin Inlet and the Churchill Vocational Centre in Churchill are not eligible.

Inuit orgs critical of settlement

In Nunavik, there are an estimated 3,000 former students from 11 different schools who may be eligible for compensation.

Makivik Corp. says Nunavik Inuit with questions about eligibility can contact Makivik’s legal department at 418-522-2224, ext. 4.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., along with Makivik and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., have criticized the settlement agreement because there is no Inuit representation on the fund that will manage compensation moneys.

NTI has also been critical of the proposed settlement’s timelines.

Last April, NTI, along with six other groups and plaintiffs, sought intervenor status in the case, but a Federal Court judge denied their application.

If you’re feeling distressed and want to talk to someone, the class action law firm suggests you call the Hope for Wellness Helpline at 1-855-242-3310, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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(16) Comments:

  1. Posted by Survior of the 1960’s on

    This old photo was taken in Cape Dorset(Kinngait) Please apply to those who survived the Federal Day School.

    • Posted by Human on

      Children used for photos like these should be captioned and mentioned. I agree. These children meant the world by their loved ones, just like my children mean the world to me.

  2. Posted by Grievance industry pays big on

    I wonder if we will see the same in years from now, kids successfully suing because they have to attend Aqsarniit Ilinniarvik, or John Arnalukjuak School, the list goes on. I wouldn’t be surprised.

    • Posted by Aasilliasit on

      As usual, you have something to gripe about. What would you like to sue for? As privileged you probably are, have a huge GN salary and use credit cards, bring in your purchases by sealift, order from Amazon, and have graduated school. You will get more bitter as you complain about the future cause you are already doing it. Yes, we get it, I get it. You work hard, have worked hard to get to where you are now. I applaud you. Really. I am proud of you. If you weren’t part of the federal day school experience, you don’t understand. We still experience being treated differently, every day, in our home land by the newcomers. Every day.

  3. Posted by Colin on

    Is the presumption that ALL kids who attended DAY school are entitled to a minimum of 10 grand in cash automatically?

    Great day for drug dealers and bootleggers.

    • Posted by OHMYGOODNESS! on

      What a stupid comment! Don’t paint everyone the same, your holier than thou comments really irked me up!
      We went through a lot of bad stuff back in the day, where Teachers would hit you with rulers/pencils daily and others had it worse than that. A lot of young people quit school for one reason or another due to mean teachers.
      Today, we cant ever fathom our own kids/grandkids going through that in their classrooms!!

      • Posted by Truth is on

        Everyone got wacked by their teachers back in the day, no matter where you were in the world. Not to say it’s right, I suppose they should all sue too.

        • Posted by 3 monkeys on

          They abused a whole culture and you still live it and make it new again, kids are small they were helpless with no one to protect them any word from any community member it was harsh and only seen in movies but seeing these posts it is well alive and contiiued with fmamily members passing it onto other cultures is it just Trump NO seemingly ordinary people have this mentality that it is ok to hurt other cultures

          • Posted by What do you know on

            The spelling by the last two posters is so bad I do, after all, need grammarly. I never thought I would.

        • Posted by hear hear on

          Speaking to some Inuit and they are confused as what to say to outsiders especially White outsiders, I ask them how many languages do you know what language did you learn so you can speak to them now turn it around how many languages do they know they often know one language and most Canadians/ Americans do not speak all that well in their own language

        • Posted by MONICA A CONNOLLY on

          Kids all over North America did get whacked regularly by teachers in the ‘50s, not just Aboriginal kids. The thing is, Southerners were open about believing in “spare the rod and spoil the child”. We knew if we misbehaved we could get the strap, many of us got spanked at home, and we knew before we went to school that talking in class or not doing homework counted as misbehaviour. Aboriginal families did not hit kids – hitting was not expected, it was shocking abuse. 60+ years later Southerners have caught up and it is against the law for teachers to use physical punishment.

  4. Posted by Dollars Aplenty on

    Kids still go to day schools. This is ridiculous. When do the universal handouts stop?

  5. Posted by Human on

    There is a significant difference in how the students were enrolled into the federal day schools in the beginning. The mentality was very much toxic and forceful compared to the mutually consented school system between parents/guardians and the school today. We are slowly but surely continuing to be colonized successfully.

    What I find amazing is, the lawyers get $55 million and the victims who suffered abuse get $10K-$200K. Unreal. </3

  6. Posted by Lucassie Kittosuk on

    I was in Great whale Federal Day School in 1963 to 1965 from North camp of Belcher Island call Sanikiluaq,and Great whale now call Kujjuarapik PQ, I don’t see the list, Am I elageble ? I did claim before, is this same one some years ago now

  7. Posted by Lucy Tookalook on

    Hello my name is lucy Tookalook
    To Whom It May Concern??
    I was in my first Grade school at age of five years old my first class in Kuujjuarapik in 1980s but now I live in umiujaq I was also abused by my teacher at my first grade class even fiscully and emotionally I even have my scars on my face and my hands I used to be so scared of going back to school because of my teacher I also dropped out of school on my secondary 2 since I used to get flash backs I dont know to whom to turn into. ??

  8. Posted by Lucy Tookalook on

    To whom it may concern
    I was abused by my teacher on my first Grade kindergarten at age of 5 years old in 1980s also
    I even have scars on my face and my hands in kujjuurapik but we moved to other communitie called umiujaq I had other class mate who was also abused mentally fiscally abused by our teacher we also had witness with my classmate but I Kept trying going back to school on & off I even had to redo my secondary 1 and 2 I end up dropping out at secondary 2 i had to drop out I dislike having flash backside used to be so scared of going to school I’ve even end up in two different group homes so my parents thought I was going to do good they tried to help me by sending me two different group homes because they thought I was going to do good in school in group homes I dont know whom to turn into about all this.

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