In the News
Below is a list of articles, with summary, about Indian residentials schools, the IAP and other related news.
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MistreatedPublication: CBC News -
On a brisk spring day in 1965, Annie Michael stepped onto an airplane for the first time.
The 10-year-old had tested positive for tuberculosis, the airborne disease that had ravaged her hometown of Niaqunngut, a remote Baffin Island community southeast of Iqaluit. Her southbound flight was the first leg of a days-long journey to the Queen Mary Hospital for Tuberculous Children in Toronto.
While Michael’s stay at the hospital was meant to cure her potentially deadly condition, the experience left damage of another kind.
When she arrived, hospital staff cut Michael’s long, dark hair into a shaggy bob. She met stern nurses who enforced a strict dress code — tunics and crisp, white blouses — and slapped young patients with rulers for punishment. Michael struggled to process the strange sights and sounds of the bustling sanatorium, and was only allowed to speak to her parents by phone once a month, for 10 minutes. ...
...In Manitoba, Gerald McIvor is pulling together research and plaintiffs in hopes of filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Indigenous segregated health-care survivors and their families. In northern Ontario, activists are fighting to have the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium added to the residential school settlement agreement, despite an Ontario Superior Court justice ruling earlier this month that the facility doesn’t satisfy the criteria needed.
60s Scoop survivor to sue governments, says Metis should receive compensationPublication: CBC News -
A Métis Sixties Scoop survivor filed a statement of claim Monday morning against Ottawa and the Saskatchewan government for damages and recognition.
Robert Doucette was taken from his family in 1962. During a news conference announcing his lawsuit, Doucette referred to a baby sweater he brought with him, given to him by his mother 53 years after Doucette was taken from her.
"It is a reminder of the failed, damaging, and tragic attempt by both levels of government to further their goal of assimilating Aboriginal people at whatever cost," he said.
Doucette is seeking a declaration that both levels of government have breached their fiduciary duty and common law duties of care owed to him and Sixties Scoop survivors. He is asking for the damages to be determined by the court.....
..."We don't think it's fair that the Métis and non-status were excluded in the proposed settlement agreement," she said
"They received similar treatment as the rest of us, and it was unfair."
Doucette also filed a human rights complaint against Bennett last year for failing to include Métis people in the federal apology and settlement.
$1.1B class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former Indian hospital patientsPublication: CBC News -
Two Canadian law firms have filed a $1.1-billion class-action lawsuit on behalf of former patients of government-run "Indian hospitals," which comprised a decades-long segregated health care system now marred by allegations of widespread mistreatment and abuse, CBC News has learned.
The lawsuit focuses on 29 segregated hospitals operated across the country by the federal government between 1945 and the early 1980s. Researchers say thousands of Indigenous patients may have been admitted to the institutions during that four-decade span. ...
In a statement, the office of Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, said the federal government "respects" the plaintiffs' decision, adding that "Canada believes that the best way to address outstanding issues and achieve reconciliation with Indigenous people is through negotiation and dialogue rather than litigation."
"We are committed to working with all parties involved to explore mechanisms outside the adversarial court process to deal with these claims," the statement continues.
Court decision quashes hopes for Northerners to reopen rejected residential school claims, lawyer saysPublication: CBC -
It was a victory for Canada but a loss for some of his Northern clients, says lawyer Steven Cooper about last week's B.C Supreme Court decision on Indian residential school compensation claims.
Cooper articled as a lawyer in Hay River, N.W.T., and originally practised there, and is now an Edmonton-based lawyer practicing law in the N.W.T., Nunavut and Alberta. He represents residential school survivors across the North.
B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown's ruling last week prevents a tribunal established to evaluate claims of abuse on the part of former residential school survivors — the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) — from reopening claims formerly rejected, based on new evidence.
That effectively quashes the hopes of anyone who may have wanted to reopen a claim with the IAP for sexual and physical abuse they may have suffered, but were unable to prove. Former students whose claims had been rejected cannot reopen those claims with the IAP, even with new evidence to support them.
Kivalliq Hall not an eligible residential school Canada arguesPublication: APTN -
The federal government is appealing a decision by Nunavut Justice Bonnie Tulloch, who in December 2016 ruled that Rankin Inlet’s Kivalliq Hall student boarding home is a residential school under the 2006 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement.
Tulloch applied factors that fall outside the provisions of the residential school agreement or “IRSSA,” federal lawyers said in documents filed with the Nunavut Court of Appeal.
That decision “impermissibly increases Canada’s obligations under the IRSSA,” and will lower the bar for other schools to qualify, federal government lawyers said.
For that reason, Canada is demanding Tulloch’s decision be dismissed.
Reconciliation can t happen without truth. So why do some suppress it?Publication: Maclean s -
There's a foreboding tension in this age of Indigenous reconciliation that may not be altogether obvious, even for those who ardently support and participate in this ambitious venture. The tension is palpable for many Indigenous people as they find their heritage at the nexus of a struggle that is pulling in opposite directions-one in which they've found themselves to be mere spectators. In one direction, there is a fervour for a great leap forward, to take us all-Indigenous and settler alike-into a future that promises harmonious co-existence. In the other, there is a tenacious grip on the past, holding onto a place that secured privilege for settler society.
In these past weeks, Bennett and her department have continued to frustrate residential school survivors in their quest for truth and justice by refusing to release thousands of pages of evidence that corroborate survivor accounts of the unspeakable abuse that occurred at St. Anne's Indian Residential School, notorious for the use of a homemade electric chair that was used to torture Indigenous students. In response, Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum has urged her to cease "suppressing and intimidating the voices and the stories that are the truth of this country."
Other survivors of residential schools have continued to fight to have the truth of their own experience acknowledged. But, like the survivors of St. Anne's, they too have also bore the brunt of the full force of the taxpayer-endowed, bureaucratic legal team. Indeed, in another matter concluded in Ontario Superior Court earlier this month, Justice Paul Perell ruled in favour of federal officials-lawyers of the federal bureaucracy-who sought to conceal more of the legacy of residential schools. At issue was the inclusion of the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium within the ambit of the IRS settlement agreement. Bennett and her official contested this view and Justice Perell agreed, but not without commiserating with the survivors as he closed his ruling:
St. Anne s survivor Stella Chapman had her student-on-student abuse claim rejected in 2013Publication: Twitter -
St. Anne's survivor Stella Chapman had her student-on-student abuse claim rejected in 2013. Then a court ordered Ottawa to turnover 1000s of police and court docs. New evidence triggered a new hearing. Under this ruling, she wouldn't get another chance:
Fay Brunning is a genuine hero of justicePublication: Twitter -
Fay Brunning is a genuine hero of justice. She exposed government lawyers suppressing evidence in the St. Ann'e cases. She fought for survivors who had their rights trashed. Now feds and Ontario court are going after her. What a travesty.
New abuse evidence not enough to reopen rejected Indian residential school claims, says courtPublication: -
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Let residential school survivors share their storiesPublication: Toronto Star -
Angela Shisheesh, a survivor of the infamous St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., would like her harrowing story of abuse to be part of the historical record, accessible to the public like those of many of her fellow victims. Yet because she, like so many others, settled her legal case before 2006, it is up the organizations responsible for her maltreatment to determine whether her testimony can be made public.
The Catholic groups that ran the schools, if they have any sense of shame or any concern for the project of reconciliation, should immediately heed the call of Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and grant permission to Shisheesh, and all those in a similar position, to tell their stories.
When the Indian Residential Schools Agreement was signed in 2006, settling class action lawsuits against the federal government and the churches that ran the schools, survivors were awarded more than just money.
New abuse evidence not enough to reopen rejected Indian residential school claims, says courtPublication: CBC -
A British Columbia Supreme Court justice ruled Wednesday that new evidence of abuse was not enough to reopen rejected Indian residential school compensation claims.
Justice Brenda Brown said that reopening concluded compensation claims based on new evidence broke the rules created by the 2006, multi-billion dollar Indian residential school settlement agreement between Ottawa, the churches and survivors.
Brown said allowing cases to reopen on these grounds could also trigger a chain reaction without end, undermining one of the core aims of the agreement — finality.
"Claims that were dismissed could result in awards and claims where lower awards were made initially could result in higher awards," wrote Brown, one of nine justices across the country responsible for supervising the settlement agreement. "Finality would be either impossible or very difficult to achieve."
he settlement agreement created a unique tribunal model to determine compensation payouts: the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). The legal battle that led to the ruling played out over what is allowed within the IAP.
Judge says lawyer slandered court for suggesting it favoured Canada on St. Anne s casePublication: CBC -
An Ontario judge responsible for supervising the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement says a lawyer representing survivors from St. Anne's residential school "slandered the court" by suggesting it was biased in favour of the federal government.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell released a scathing order on Monday aimed at Fay Brunning, an Ottawa-based lawyer who has represented survivors from St. Anne's for several years, scoring major victories along the way.
Cases from the Fort Albany, Ont., school, where a homemade electric chair used for punishment and sport, have been marred by Ottawa's decision to initially sit on thousands of documents from an Ontario Provincial Police investigation launched in the 1990s that led to charges and convictions of former school staff.
Perell took exception to recent court filings by Brunning alleging the court gave "preferential treatment" to Canada. Perell also expressed discomfort with an email Brunning sent on Jan. 12 to the court counsel where she stated the court had "neglected to enforce its own orders against Canada" in cases involving St. Anne's survivors and that it always "presumes Canada to be truthful."
Carolyn Bennett asks Catholic groups to allow residential school survivors to have documents outlining abuse made publicPublication: Globe and Mail -
The federal government is urging Catholic groups that ran Indian residential schools to allow former students who settled their abuse cases before a compensation deal was signed with school survivors to file their court documents with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
Justice Department lawyers say permission from both the government and the Catholic entities is required before abuse survivors who launched court cases before 2006, when the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was struck, can house papers related to their cases at the centre in Winnipeg that is chronicling the schools' tragic legacy.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December the government will waive the privilege it asserts over the records pertaining to the lawsuit launched by Angela Shisheesh for the hardships she endured at the infamous St. Anne's Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., where former students say they were tortured in a makeshift electric chair and forced to eat their own vomit.
Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, has written a letter that is being sent to the roughly 50 Catholic entities that ran the schools asking them to do the same for everyone in Ms. Shisheesh's situation – essentially requesting that the Church allow more documents detailing the abuse suffered by the students to be made public.
St. Anne s residential school survivors want mediation, say Ottawa keeps fighting claimsPublication: CBC -
Survivors from an Indian residential school that used a homemade electric chair for punishment want the federal government to enter into mediation to settle their claims.
Three survivors from St. Anne's Indian residential school made the call Monday during a news conference in Ottawa with NDP MP Charlie Angus.
he survivors accused the federal government's lawyers of suppressing and denying evidence of widespread abuse at the school which operated in Fort Albany, Ont., along the James Bay coast.
They said the government has played legal hardball during hearings under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created by the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement to determine compensation amounts.
Court Says Ottawa Can Reject Police, Court Transcripts as Evidence in St. Anne s Residential School CasesPublication: CBC -
Ottawa can continue to reject the use of police and court transcripts as evidence in student-on-student compensation claims from survivors who attended St. Anne's Indian Residential School, according to a recent ruling.
The ruling, issued by Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell on Jan. 4, concluded the courts could not force Ottawa to admit to abuse under the terms of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The agreement created a system for setting compensation levels known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).
The IAP was created as an adversarial process where Canada could challenge evidence and survivors had to provide proof to support their claims for compensation, said Perell, one of the judges tasked with supervising the settlement agreement. He said the courts could not rewrite the settlement agreement.
"Canada is under no general obligation to surrender … to make an admission of defeat," wrote Perell, in his ruling.
"The compensation part of the [settlement agreement] is not subsumed by the truth and reconciliation part.... Canada is contractually entitled to oppose IAP claims."
The ruling gave Ottawa a legal victory in its ongoing, multi-faceted legal battle with residential school survivors from St. Anne's Indian Residential School, which operated near the mouth of the Albany River along Ontario's James Bay Coast.
Ottawa negotiating with lawyer accused of over-billing for residential school workPublication: APTN -
Ottawa is currently negotiating a 60s Scoop compensation claim with a lawyer it says overbilled the government during the residential school process.
According to court records, the federal government is suing Tony Merchant, a Saskatchewan-based lawyer and spokesperson for a group of four law firms trying to reach a 60s Scoop deal, for fraud, misrepresentation and deceit.
The records state that Ottawa is trying to get millions back from the Merchant Law Group (MLG) from an earlier compensation program – the one for former students of Indian residential schools.
His firm represented more than 7,000 claimants under IRSSA and was paid $25 million in 2008.
But in 2015, Ottawa questioned that amount and filed a civil suit http://canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/46936 seeking that money back plus its legal fees between 1997 and 2005.
The claim alleges Merchant’s electronic billing statements were incorrect.
Especially after some lawyers billed out more than 24 hours in a day, and some records were back-dated by as much as two years.
Merchant Law denies the allegations and filed a counter-suit for $20 million, alleging Ottawa short-changed it by more than $50 million.
B.C lawyer facing residential school discipline now signing up 60s Scoop survivorsPublication: APTN -
A lawyer facing a disciplinary hearing for his work with residential school survivors is actively signing up ‘60s Scoop adoptees, APTN News has learned.
Vancouver lawyer Stephen Bronstein, who was investigated and put under supervision, is being accused of unprofessional conduct by the Law Society of British Columbia.
The website of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation on Vancouver Island reports Bronstein twice visited the community last summer for an information session on the 60s Scoop settlement.
Bronstein worked under a supervisory lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court of B.C. after some residential school survivors complained about the way he handled their compensation claims.
Some of the survivors, who cannot be identified under court order, alleged Bronstein employed an ex-con to deliver paperwork and collect their signatures. (link to story)
They further alleged the man, whose parole for murder was revoked after their accusations came to light, extorted them by demanding all or part of their compensation payouts.
“The lawyers are jumping in there already,” said Fred Thomas, a residential school survivor in northwestern Ontario.
Thomas helped dozens of residential school survivors complain to the Law Society of Upper Canada about the way their compensation claims were handled – only to see the case fall apart.
Now, with Ottawa pledging $750 million in financial compensation to ‘60s Scoop survivors, Thomas is expecting more unsavoury behaviour.