Federal Court approves historic $1.47-billion settlement for day school survivors

19 August 2019

Gowling WLG is proud to receive today's decision of the Federal Court approving the $1.47-billion Day School Class Action (DSCA) settlement agreement, which recognizes the harms suffered by Indigenous students who attended Federal Indian Day Schools and Federal Day Schools across Canada. Until the settlement of the DSCA, the significant harms experienced by day school students had not been recognized by Canada.

We are honoured to serve as counsel to the plaintiff class in the DSCA. In representing day school victims over the past three years, our national team - led by partners Robert Winogron, Jeremy Bouchard, Mary Thomson and Brian Crane - has forged even deeper ties with Canada's Indigenous peoples. These ties have strengthened our resolve to advocate for the justice that individual survivors, as well as their families and communities, have been waiting far too long to receive.

Justice Phelan's decision confirms that day school survivors will receive that justice, and that the settlement agreement we negotiated on behalf of the plaintiffs is fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the class. The settlement applies to everyone who attended an eligible day school, and emphasizes expediency and effectiveness in equal measure in the compensation process by:

  • Ensuring that aging survivor class members will receive adequate compensation as quickly as possible by employing a streamlined, centrally managed and locally delivered approach in which the application for compensation is designed to be completed without the assistance of a lawyer; class counsel are available to assist claimants free of charge if requested.
  • Minimizing the risk of victim re-traumatization through a confidential, non-adversarial, paper-based claims process which acknowledges that records and other evidence may have been lost over time and provides an alternative method to establish claims by means of a sworn declaration.
  • Supporting the well-being of future generations through the establishment of a legacy fund that will focus on commemoration, wellness and healing, and on the restoration and preservation of Indigenous languages and culture.

We wish to thank the representative plaintiffs and class members for the guidance and experience they have shared with us. In particular, we want to acknowledge the significant work and contributions made by Garry McLean. Born on the Lake Manitoba First Nation, Mr. McLean acted as the lead representative plaintiff in this matter until his sudden passing in February of this year. His leadership, kindness and tireless advocacy will never be forgotten. Miigwetch Garry.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the representative plaintiffs and class members as we begin the settlement implementation process. We remain committed to ensuring that justice is delivered to survivors, their families and their communities.

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