PHOTO: The Fort William Indian Hospital, Thunder Bay Museum
An Ontario judge has rejected a request to have the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium added to the list of recognized residential schools.
Sanatorium survivor Ruth Henry aided by researcher Ed Sadowski wanted the Indian hospital recognized to clear the way for compensation under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement (IRSSA).
A Request for Direction (RFD) was filed in October 29, 2014.
On January 4, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell concluded the Thunder Bay, ON area hospital was not a residential school and dismissed the action.
APTN Investigates interviewed former patients of Indian hospitals and sanatoriums for the episode “The Cure was Worse.”
“I find that the Provincial School was operated by the Fort William Sanatorium School Board and there is no evidence that Canada had a role on this board,” Perrell wrote in his reasons for decision.
First Nations children were admitted as patients as early as 1935. The hospital closed in 1974.
“Children could not be admitted without approval from the department of Indian Affairs,” Perrell wrote.
According to the court documents, it was a multi-building institution that included a day school, a non-federal community healthcare facility and a sanatorium. Henry argued that the sanatorium should be considered an IRS as early as 1942.
Section 12 of the settlement agreement governs how to determine whether a school qualifies as a residential school or not. One of the conditions mentioned in Section 12 is that children must be placed in an institution for “the purposes of education.”
The judge concluded that while both Canada and Henry agreed that “children were removed from an IRS by or under Canada’s authority and placed at the Fort William Sanatorium — which was away from their family home — there was legitimate doubts about the role that “the purposes of education” played in the decision to put the children into the sanatorium.
“To conclude, I sympathize with the situation of those who were transferred from IRSs to Fort William, “ Justice Perrell wrote in conclusion. “These young people contracted serious illnesses while resident at an IRC and were subsequently diverted to a sanatorium and were away from their communities during times of significant health challenges, the very times at which children need their families the most.”
More to come.