Thousands of people from across the north are now eligible to receive an education credit from the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
The settlement agreement stipulated that if more than $40 million was left in the trust fund after the Common Experience Payments were made, the leftover money was to be used for educational credits for CEP recipients.
Crawford Class Action Services is now mailing applications to people who received the Common Experience Payment. They can use the one-time personal credit of up to $3,000 at universities, trades programs, or for courses.
People can also transfer the credits to family members or they can choose to pool them to develop programs that promote traditional knowledge.
Paul Andrew, who chaired an addictions forum in communities across the N.W.T. last year, said he heard people say again and again they want more on-the-land programs to help with healing.
"While they're still feeling that, feeling fresh about that, I think we can talk about this — pooling their credits together and using it for the benefit of the community.
"This is an opportunity for us to learn more from our own people. This is an opportunity to sit down with an elder out on the land, and get that education started."
But Andrew worries it will be a challenge to fit that less formal teaching into the paperwork required, and the deadlines will come quickly.
People have until Oct.31 to decide how to use the credit. Then the organization or school they chose has until Dec.1 to apply to redeem it.
About 5,000 people in the Northwest Territories, 2,500 people in Nunavut and 1,400 people in Yukon are eligible for the credit.