The mistreatment of Indigenous children by successive Canadian governments has left a tragic legacy that we still see today. Canada deeply regrets its past actions and policies that denied Indigenous children their languages and culture and is committed to reconciliation and laying the foundation for multi-generational healing.
Beginning in the 1920s, close to 200,000 Indigenous children attended federally operated Indian Day Schools. Many students who attended these schools experienced trauma, and in some cases, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of individuals entrusted with their care.
Originally filed in 2009 on behalf of Indigenous people (and their families) who attended an Indian Day School, Garry Leslie McLean et al v. Attorney General of Canada was certified by the Federal Court of Canada on June 21, 2018. Over the past several months, the Government of Canada and the parties have been engaged in negotiations with the goal of resolving this litigation in a fair, compassionate, and respectful manner that combines individual compensation with forward-looking investments.
The proposed settlement agreement represents a historic step toward resolving this litigation and demonstrates Canada’s commitment to righting historical wrongs through negotiation rather than litigation; it allows parties to go beyond the remedies that can be granted by the courts and to explore concrete ways to address healing, language, culture and commemoration.
The key elements of the proposed settlement agreement are as follows:
- Individual compensation of $10,000 for harms associated with attendance at an Indian Day School;
- Compensation for incidents of physical and sexual abuse, with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 based on the severity of the abuses suffered; and
- A $200 million investment to the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation for Legacy Projects that support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration;
- $55 million in funding for legal fees. Plaintiffs’ counsel have committed that they will not seek additional legal costs from payments made to class members in order to ensure that compensation intended for plaintiffs is preserved for them; and
- $7 million in separate legal fees to be made available to class counsel to support additional legal work on behalf of class members.