Day scholars seek redress
After months of considering the options, a pair of First Nations groups led by the Tk’emlups Indian Band (TIB) has decided to launch a class-action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of residential-school day scholars.
TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson said he is eager to see the court action move forward and a potential settlement for band members.
“We want to build healthy communities,” he said following a press conference on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
“Right now, there are intergenerational issues, which are not healthy. We feel that this is a first step in getting our people on the right track.”
The TIB and the Sechelt Indian Band have joined together in the suit.
Day scholars are First Nations children 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.
However, day scholars were not included i
n $1.9-billion residential-school settlement with the federal government signed back in 2008.
The day scholars are looking for compensation for loss of culture, language, traditions and for traumas suffered at the schools.
There are about 200 TIB members and another 140 Sechelt band members believed to have attended residential schools as day scholars.
Len Marchand Jr., one of the lawyers for the bands, said the bands are seeking a similar settlement as the residential-school victims.
“I think the losses are equivalent,” he said.
However, Marchand suggested the court case needs to be advanced before the bands can sit down with the federal government and negotiate a settlement.
He noted the bands haven’t officially filed the suit, as their legal counsel is considering whether to file in B.C. Supreme Court or in federal court.
Marchand couldn’t say how much the suit and possible settlement could be worth.
“It’s a very large issue that affects a great number of people and, if there is a financial settlement, it would be substantial.”