Aboriginal day school students are launching a class action lawsuit hoping to receive compensation for alleged abuse during the residential school era.
It is estimated 75,000 day school students attended government funded, church-run residential schools. But they lived in boarding houses, convents, hostels and orphanages, rather than school dormitories.
Jennifer Wood, the residential schools coordinator with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the fact some who experienced residential schools are being left out of the settlement agreement with the Canadian government is dividing families and communities.
"They feel left out of the agreement, said Wood. "It's dividing families, it's dividing communities. There are members in one family — one went to day school, one to recognized residential school. Why did I not get compensated? I was abused."
Ray Mason heads Spirit Wind, a Manitoba-based non-profit group that has advocated on behalf of residential school students.
"The [government] agreement did not compensate the approximately 75,000 First Nation children who were placed in day schools," he said. "Many of them were harmed in the same manner as those students who were in the residential schools."
Residential schools were set up in the late 1800s with the idea of assimilating Aboriginal people into the larger culture by teaching them basic writing and reading skills and helping them learn occupations such as farming.
Mason said he hopes others across Canada will join in this latest legal action, which is being coordinated by lawyer Joan Jack, who is originally from Berens River, Man.