TIB files suit for day scholars
A class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for students who attended residential schools in Kamloops and the Sunshine Coast as day students has been filed with the Federal Court of Canada.
The lawsuit, filed by the Tk’emlups and the Sechelt Indian bands in Vancouver on Wednesday, Aug. 15, seeks damages from the federal government on behalf of
students who attended residential schools on both reserves, but who didn’t live at the institutions.
While students who resided at the schools received “common-experience” payments from the Canadian government through the $1.9-billion Indian Residential Schools Settlement in 2006, students who only attended during the day did not.
Those common-experience payments awarded students $10,000 for their
first year or partial year at a residential school and an additional $3,000 for each year attended after that.
“Day scholars were excluded,” said Tk’emlups Indian Band Chief Shane Gottfriedson.
“We have no other option but to file a class-action suit against the federal government.
Gottfriedson estimates there are 220 TIB members who were day scholars.
Gottfriedson said the bands are seeking compensation for students’ loss of their traditional culture and language because of the program of assimilation in place at the schools, where students were taught their native heritage was sinful.
The claim states that Canada’s residential-schools program was designed to forcibly assimilate aboriginal people and, “through this policy, Canada ripped away the foundations of identity for generations of aboriginal people and caused incalculable harm to both individuals and communities.”
Gottfriedson called filing the claim
an important first step.
“It’s two communities from a grassroots level that are advancing the initiative,”he said.
“It’s no political organization. It’s two bands that partnered together to seek justice for our people.”