Chiefs ponder day-scholars lawsuit
A potential suit against the federal government on behalf of residential-school day scholars has taken a big step forward, according to First Nation leaders meeting in Kamloops.
Tk’emlups Indian Band (TIB) Chief Shane Gottfriedson said the two-day meeting helped give First Nation political leaders a direction and mandate to move to the next step.
The next phase will likely include a class-action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of day scholars, but the TIB chief isn’t ready to confirm one would be filed.
“I can say we’re definitely looking for a resolution,” Gottfriedson said, noting there are still technical issues to work out with respect to a lawsuit.
The TIB has taken a lead role on the issue in B.C. and has met with several other
First Nations leaders during the last five months.
The two-day meeting to discuss the issue, which started on May 10, brought chiefs from around the country to Kamloops, including National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo.
Day scholars are First Nations members who attended residential schools during the day, but went home at night.
They have been said to have suffered the same abuses as their counterparts
who lived in the schools.
The day scholars are looking for compensation for loss of culture, language, traditions and for traumas suffered at the schools.
Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip said the chiefs are determined to get the issue to the top of the political agenda.
“Without question, there is an undeniable urgency attached to this matter because survivors are passing away at an alarming rate,” he said.
There are an
estimated 78 TIB members who attended the Kamloops residential school as day scholars.
Phillip said he hopes the government will come to the table and settle the issue sooner than later.
Other First Nations groups in places like Manitoba, Ontario and the Maritimes are also putting together potential class-action suits, and Phillip suggested they might all be consolidated.