Lawyer believes survivors deserve “one more day” to apply for residential schools compensation - APTN NewsAPTN News

Lawyer believes survivors deserve “one more day” to apply for residential schools compensation



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Paul Barnsley
APTN Investigates

Cree lawyer Eleanore Sunchild believes residential school survivors deserve one final chance to file a claim under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), even though the deadline passed in 2012.

Sept. 19, 2012 was the government’s deadline to file claims under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), the section of the IRSSA the dealt with compensation for sexual and serious physical abuse

Sunchild, a citizen of the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan, just east of the Alberta border town of Lloydminster, has been practicing law for 12 years. The daughter of a prominent Cree Elder, she has been focussing her practice on residential school law.

She has collected approximately 300 files of people who missed the deadline and therefore, as of this moment, missed out on getting a hearing to tell their story and let an adjudicator determine if they qualify for compensation under the IAP. She is convinced there are thousands of survivors who missed out across the country.

She will soon file a request for direction (RFD) with one of the judges who supervise the IRSSA.

“My argument is that this deadline is miscalculated. There were two periods that had to expire before you got to the deadline,” she told APTN Investigates. “Basically, they counted 30 days and then they started counting the next 30 days on the same day. But they were supposed to let the first period – the first 30 days – expire and then start counting again to get to the implementation date.”

And then the deadline date was set at five years after the implementation date.

“But by counting the second 30 days on top of the first 30 days, they actually missed a whole day,” she said. “So my argument is that the deadline was Sept. 20, 2012 not Sept. 19, 2012. And by doing that they deprived people of an entire 24-hour period.”

 

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If they told people before the deadline that all they had to do was submit their name in order to preserve the right to file an application after the deadline that would have saved people grief

– Eleanor Sunchild

 


As the Sept. 19, 2012 deadline approached, hundreds of last-minute applications were received, just at the Sunchild Law firm alone.

“The period around the deadline was crazy. We were inundated by people coming in and phoning and faxing from all over Canada wanting to get a claim in. In the last week we submitted close to 500 claims. It was crazy and every law firm was like that,” the lawyer said.

She said the IAP Secretariat, a government bureaucracy set up to implement the IAP process, erred at that time in another way.

“The secretariat said you have to send in a signed application in order to meet the deadline. But after, we found out all they really needed was a name to be submitted prior to the deadline. So people who were apprehensive or reluctant to file a claim before the deadline, all they would have to do was submit their name,” she said. “So if they told people before the deadline that all they had to do was submit their name in order to preserve the right to file an application after the deadline that would have saved people grief.”

Many advocates and leaders of survivor groups have pointed out that many of the people who suffered the worst of the residential school system live broken lives of addiction, homelessness and illiteracy. And because the IAP is reserved for people who suffered severe trauma as young children decades ago, many had a hard time getting themselves into the right frame of mind to re-live that trauma.

Many also live in remote places where the government’s advertising campaign to inform survivors of the approaching deadline would not have reached.

And since residential schools were mostly about cultural assimilation and definitely not primarily about education, many of the people who attended those schools would not be sophisticated enough to comprehend the legalistic language of the government advertising.

So there were many compelling reasons why people would have missed the deadline, survivors say.

Sunchild believes the notice of the impending deadline, published or broadcast by most media outlets, “was written at a level that was very sophisticated and I don’t think the average Grade 8 residential school survivor would be able to properly read that.”

Survivor organization leaders say that every person excluded from the IAP is a financial gain for the government. Allowing people damaged by the system to be excluded because of that damage is contrary to the idea of natural justice, they say.

“Yes, it is,” Sunchild said. “I’m going to argue that there should be honor of the Crown when they’re dealing with residential school survivors. Of course, the residential school survivors are vulnerable people and the government knows it. So there should be some leniency or even common sense in allowing these people to file an application. But the court is saying that the implementation has to be a strict interpretation of the IRSSA.”

A graduate of the University of Alberta law school, Sunchild appreciates that the settlement agreement has to come to an end at some point.

“They have to adhere to the deadline, and fine. I know the Crown needs finality to the agreement but by my calculation, if they’re going to stick to the argument that they have to rigidly implement the interpretation of the settlement agreement, then they owe the survivors one day,” she said. “They owe them a 24-hour period to submit an application – with proper notice.”

The Assembly of First Nations chiefs passed a resolution supporting this initiative in 2015. Sunchild intends to follow up.

“I have to because these people deserve to have their story heard. And the pool is getting smaller, too. These people are getting older, they’re passing away,” she said. “So it’s not too late while the process is still established for them to be admitted and obtain a hearing date.”

pbarnsley@aptn.ca

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20 Responses to “Lawyer believes survivors deserve “one more day” to apply for residential schools compensation”

  1. Juskwa@hotmail.com'
    Juskwa June 23, 2017 at 12:04 pm #

    I was part of the initial planning phases of that program. It was never ever ever intended to have an end date on applications. Given the obvious intergenerational and historical issues. I had moved to the United States and lost touch with what was happening. I am disgusted that after all the work our teams put in that they would think that all of the victims/survivors would be able to make disclosures and claims by my birthday on September 19, 2012. Can you contact the originators of this program? We had all agreed that it would take more than 25 years to allow all of the people affected to be able to be brave enough, have enough support to come forward. We have also agreed that there would be no hard limit on a time date.

  2. mamadd22000@yahoo.ca'
    Diana June 23, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    My mom passed in 2008.
    I applied for her residential school benefits and never received anything.
    She was given her 10,000 advance and sent in all her papers. Was still owed money when she passed on. All they told me was I needed a lawyer to receive her benefits. I cannot afford a lawyer.
    Have never heard anything back.

  3. Nekiney_2008@Hotmail.com'
    Roberta Sam June 23, 2017 at 3:29 pm #

    Yes! I was told I was too late for compensation too! Tyey said they send me a letter regarding IAP letter deadline! I never received it! They just gave me a bunch if rUnarounds! me know what I can do? Thank You! Roberta!

  4. Aggyred2015@hotmail.com'
    Agnes Redsky June 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    I never got mine .. So Plz help on this one .. I did go to court but I wasnt compensated.. But then again they never believe you when I went to court I couldn’t speak I Wanted to speak about my experience in residential school..1 was only allowed a couple words and they won’t even let me say anymore just like when you were in residential school was never allowed to speak… Before you go to cater I went to was Evelyn Baxter she was very mean and not very nice person she did all the talking meanwhile I’m the one who was in residential school.. Thn I went to another good caterer but no lawyer would help me I was on my own I was referred to a man in Winnipeg who didn’t even help me and I tried asking the judicatory if I could come person like in court they never did reply to me to this day they never replied they just ignored me..so I hope you can help me out …. Plz … To phone me .. Here’s my number 1(807)407-5001…. N. My name is Agnes Redsky .. N I will provide more info wen you contact me …

  5. vennejoe7@gmail.com'
    joseph June 23, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    need application

  6. isleofview8@yahoo.ca'
    Moses June 23, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    Government compensation will never pay for the atrocities they and the churches have done on our people. Today, I am a survivor of their past of what they have done to my life and I have to live with it. I pray that you shall find a better livable way for the Government to compensate our Indian’s. I have never claimed for compensation because today I still struggle of the thought of what Day school brought me in my life. Today I am a clean and sober person. All my relation. Thanks for hearing me out.

  7. charcote@live.com'
    Char June 23, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    My husband was incarcerated for several years prior to the deadline and is still incarcerated. He did not get a chance to apply… alot of inmates didn’t get the chance to apply.

  8. austin_ida@hotmail.com'
    Ida Austin June 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm #

    Good idea to reopen the IRS case of ppl who missed out on their application for IRS Settlement, I hope all goes well.
    I applied for the IAP and it wasn’t granted; I felt more should’ve been done in this case as it is very heartbreaking to go thru the same pain over and over again. I felt, when my husband and I went to Kamloops to see a doctor to check my ear, I thought it was going to take a long time for them to check my ears; just a couple seconds of looking in them was all they did. I was lucky I got paid from work to pay for the trip myself; otherwise, what if I didn’t have any money to make that trip? Kamloops is located down south as approximately 12 to 15 hours. from home. I did not like the comments such as “your parents abandoned you”; My parents never abandoned me and my two sisters; we were taken away from our parents; we were definitely not abandoned by our parents. Our family were always together and we loved each other very much, especially loved our parents very much and they loved us very much too. Our story as a residential school survivor will always be in our mind with a broken heart. My parents were hurt to see us leave them; why did the IRS not think of them? I have seen my Mom cry and it wasn’t easy for us to leave because we were family and always together. Our story of IRS are all true and still the outcome was not believed by officials who interrogated the survivors; we will forever cry and feel pain as our life goes on. Only God knows all the pain we went thru and still feel the pain, the pain is forever. True stories are the truth.

  9. Nekiney_2008@Hotmail.com'
    Roberta Sam June 23, 2017 at 11:21 pm #

    Yes! I never got any compensation! They have told me they send me a IAP letter in the mail and I did not received it! They gave me a bunch of run around! By then they said it was too late and it was a deadline! What can I do? Thanks! Roberta!

  10. mark.anderson661@yahoo.com'
    Mark Anderson June 24, 2017 at 12:22 am #

    I don’t believe in arbitrary deadlines.

  11. Shellysewap_17@hotmail.com'
    Shelly June 24, 2017 at 1:59 am #

    What happen if u got denie for this i apply for my late husband

  12. michaud399@gail.com'
    brian June 24, 2017 at 4:27 am #

    Yeah i missed it becausr i didnt know i was elligable.

  13. Darose_19_23@hotmail.com'
    Audrey June 24, 2017 at 5:50 am #

    May I ask about the Day Scholars?? I heard they will compensated too?? R they?

  14. eweenusk@gmail.com'
    Evelyn Weenusk June 24, 2017 at 8:06 am #

    To be able to have another chance to file a claim would be a great spiritual blessing. Fear of reliving the trauma at a hearing prevented me from submission of a claim. It is bad enough to live with those memories, the psychological and physical traumas haunt me daily. I have gone through the route of alcohol to no avail. I even tried to take my life numerous times and ideations are still very real. I turned to spiritual living and found a sense of peace but direction. I still continue to be overwhelmed when those memories flood my mind at the most inopportune times as I go about my daily life.

    I pray for Eleanor Sunchild to succeed for those of us who have not had the opportunity to submit a claim and our experiences become part of the residential school era of atrocities.

  15. Rbooboo.909@hotmail.com'
    Ray Burns June 24, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

    Well done and where would get some more info. I am one of the people that missed the deadline. Please keep me informed. Will submit my e-mail address when requested. Thank You in good faith.

  16. nativesworldus@gmail.com'
    Ctp June 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    Should b NO DEADLINE to apply!

  17. francistikanye@hotmail.com'
    Francis tikanye June 25, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    In the first place the Canadian government who headed the Indian residential schools,should have never put a deadline date to this claim,when they knew they intentionally violated human rights,it should have been left open till the last person applied their application,the deadline is just another injustice to the residential school survivors,not everyone has access to the CBC news,and now when they realized that billions of dollars were left over because not everyone applied,they have no place to put the leftover money,the Canadian government should be ashamed of themselves,for putting a deadline date on the wrongs they did to the reserves of Canada,you can’t have it both ways and make apologies to the aboriginal chiefs,and say your sorry,when you left out those who had no idea what was issued to them,and to the ones who did apply and got the compensation,were cheated out by money hungry lawyers,who stuffed their pockets,without any written accountability to the government,all abuse is equal there is no such greater and and lesser abuse of the Indian residential schools,

  18. 4Dakota.Redman@gmail.com'
    Audrey Redman June 26, 2017 at 4:03 pm #

    Why encourage any survivor to enter into an agreement with the institutions that caused the suffering of so many and are paid for it. Why were survivors who died before 2005 excluded from the settlement and how many of the missing and murdered men and women were survivors. An accounability for $2.5 billion is about due and not to forget the lawyers who are under investigation for fraud in these settlements. And there are the survivors who had their compensayion stolen who can’t access their information from these same lawyers. What lawyers don’t tell is “read the fine print”, and there’s lots of that.

  19. rosslorie@hotmail.com'
    Sharon cameron June 26, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    my mother passed away in 2002 she went to residential school and I tried to apply but they told me she had to have been alive until 2005. all their negativity passed down to us her children. there is only 2 of us left

  20. lucie.harper@robertsoncollege.net'
    Lucie Harper June 26, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

    I saw my letter too late