NTI denied intervenor status in federal day schools class action

Inuit groups say the claims process and deadlines pose significant barriers to access

Students at Cape Dorset (Kinngait) Federal Hostel, in April 1964. A nationwide class action lawsuit against the Canadian government for survivors of federal Indian day schools has reached a proposed settlement amount, which is expected to be approved by a federal court next month. (Library and Archives Canada)

By Sarah Rogers

A federal court has rejected an Inuit group’s motion to intervene in a class action lawsuit for survivors of Indian federal day schools.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. was among six groups and plaintiffs that applied to intervene in the McLean Day Schools Class Action, first launched in 2009 for survivors of day schools who were excluded from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan denied NTI’s motion April 25, along with that of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, the Grand Council of the Crees and three individual plaintiffs.

In its application, NTI said the scope and timeline of the proposed settlement was “inappropriate” and did not represent the interests of Nunavut Inuit.

That’s because the proposed settlement was made public on March 14, though eligible former students only have until May 3 to file objections, the Inuit land claim organization said.

“The Inuit of Nunavut have limited access to information and little current awareness of the day school issues, and are unable to meaningfully engage in this deadline,” NTI said in its application.

“The claims process and claims deadline contemplated by the proposed settlement do not reflect the reality in Nunavut and impose significant barriers to meaningful access to justice and reconciliation.”

The lawsuit could pay students anywhere from $10,000 for harms associated with attending a day school to a maximum of $200,000 for repeated sexual abuse or physical assault that led to long-term injury.

In Nunavut, there were 25 eligible federal day schools under the settlement. The number of eligible students is unclear; NTI did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for an interview.

Earlier this year, the land claim organization, alongside Nunavik’s Makivik Corp. and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., raised concerns that the funds in question are to be paid to and administered by a corporation in which there is no Inuit representation.

The law firm Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP is set to receive the $55 million pay-out and will continue to act as the claimants’ class counsel under an additional $7 million in trust payment.

In a January letter to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, NTI, Makivik and IRC asked the minister to ensure that Inuit organizations have a role in that process.

One of those groups confirmed that the minister’s office sent a response to the land claims group just this month, though it’s unclear if Ottawa intends to address their concerns.

In Nunavik, there are an estimated 3,000 former students from 11 different schools who could be eligible under the day schools’ agreement.

Makivik Corp. says students who attended federal day schools not yet listed in the settlement agreement can request to be included in the agreement by contacting the class counsel at lessard@gowlinggwlg.com or at 1-844-539-3815.

Nunavimmiut with questions about their eligibility can also contact Makivik’s legal department at 418-522-2224 ext. 4.

The proposed settlement is subject to federal court approval at hearings scheduled May 13-15 in Winnipeg.

Read more information about the class action here.

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(11) Comments:

  1. Posted by School Daze on

    Kids still go to day schools. Should they be shut down? They’re run by the territory now rather than the feds, but they are still day schools. Providing payouts to people for having gone to school decades ago is just wrong, especially when nobody has any intention of shutting down today’s day schools.

    • Posted by Bert Rose on

      Prior to 1970, schools in the then Northwest Territories were run as Federal Day Schools.
      This lawsuit focusses on the schools run under that tittle.
      After 1970, the authority was changed to the GNWT.
      It is only Federal Day School students who may apply.

      • Posted by Crystal Clarity on

        Some individuals are ignorantly putting forth the idea that students who attended the Territorial Day Schools are eligible too which is completely incorrect and creating a lot of confusion. Territorial schools are not part of this class action settlement. Most of those Territorial Schools are still operating so it would be lame for people to think that these schools are covered too. If they were what would prevent the present day students from being part of this class action too?

  2. Posted by JOHN ELL on

    I am Nunavut Inuk and I am quite pleased NTI was kicked out. First Nations are better negotiators when it comes to this issue.

  3. Posted by Peter Tookalook on

    Wow Daze, that is just plain stupid remark, I have seen residential school student that were forced to go and learn something that was foreign to the culture, you really don’t understand the extend as to how much these student’s got confused and taken from their parent, I have seen my uncle really struggle with the meaning of life for him, he didn’t really make it in the society the way the world’s want everyone to function, and also he was unable to do traditional hunting and activities due to his childhood learning taken, as a result we have seen alot of trauma in the last three generations, I know healing begins when a person realizes the pain, I was lucky I was born a generation later it was still federal day school when I started but the blow was less for us in our generation that went into school in the early 70’s, but for those who went before us really struggled with life in general, so alcohol and drugs was very big in that era, we are now starting to heal slowly.

    • Posted by Observer on

      “I have seen residential school student that were forced to go and learn something that was foreign to the culture”

      There are many things to critisize about the residential schools and the school system today. Learning about other people and things isn’t one of them. That should be one of the goals of any school system in the modern world.

  4. Posted by Wow on

    Wow, look how clean the floors are. Schools are not that clean today

  5. Posted by inummarik on

    When will inuit be thankful that they were given education? a lot of them elder’s who went to schools would not have today’s income if they didn’t go to school.

  6. Posted by not_NTI on

    wish we had people that looked at all of Nunavutmiut and not people that use organizations to get back at people and their regions! the people that have lead organizations use big orgs or whole govenments to get back at their own people with no one able to tell them to back off scary thing and they have people to looking at them proudly

  7. Posted by Putuguk on

    Um…why was NTI denied intervenor status in the class action? Seems like a key piece of information is missing from this article.

    Any of the Federal Day school survivors I know seem to understand that there is a settlement underway, thanks to (free) media coverage.

    Then it falls to NTI mainly wanting to have some Inuit sit on an organization to pay out the monies.

    Is redress for Inuit pain and suffering only complete, we can only be fully reconciled, when a few of Nunavut’s appointed elite has gorged at the pig’s trough of endless meetings with paid expenses and honorarium?

    Get the money to the survivors. A cent of the settlement used up in useless process is an affront to them.

  8. Posted by Sam Tupak on

    The Federal Day Education system was just 3 subjects, Arithmetic, reading and writing. Grade 3 was like grade 6 today , grade 6 was like grade 12 today. All children learned how to read properly and to write english properly. Some Graduates today have a difficult time to write a letter, fill out a form or do a resume. Thanks to Facebook , more are learning to write and type in English lol.
    The students of those Federal Day schools also speak Inuktitut well, even thou they were forbidden to speak their Inuktut language . The language was strong outside the school building.
    The residential school system just about killed the Inuktitut language and culture in the students that attended. Sad that some lost their language and culture. It’s even funny to see those that have gone to Residential schools saying they lost their language and culture but offer to be Consultants and experts on culture and language of Inuit for the money.

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