The law firm handling settlement discussions with Ottawa says negotiations on compensation for former Indian Day School students should begin soon.
“It’s early stages yet,” said Robert Winogron with Gowling in Ottawa.
“But we are seeking compensation – direct compensation – to individuals.”
The firm shared the news with chiefs at the Assembly of First Nations annual general assembly in Vancouver Thursday.
Winogron said negotiations will get underway with federal government representatives and Department of Justice lawyers now that Ottawa recognizes the class-action lawsuit has been certified.
He said the settlement is seeking compensation for two classes of victims – survivors and families of survivors.
While survivors would be compensated financially, families could see their pain and trauma recognized through commemoration and healing programs.
“That will be the subject of negotiation and different models are being considered,” Winogron said in a telephone interview.
“There is nothing confirmed yet but we anticipate starting shortly.”
So far, the legal team says there are between 120,000 and 140,000 living day school survivors who attended more than 700 schools.
They were excluded from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, because they went home at night.
But the lawyers say they suffered similar emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and a negative impact on their language and culture.
“Many of them feel abandoned because they weren’t included,” Winogron said. “And so we’re trying to right that as best we can.”
Winogron said day school survivors are eager for a settlement.
“We get calls – I can’t tell you how many calls we get – we get calls daily,” he added.
“People have been waiting a long, long time.”