Former residential school students on the James Bay Coast will have to wait a bit longer to see if they get access to records that could help support their claims of abuse.
Two days of hearings into the matter wrapped up Wednesday night. The justice reserved his decision on whether the federal government and the OPP should hand over the documents — and whether they should be used in the complex process for claiming compensation.
Former St. Anne’s Residential School student Andrew Wesley said he hopes a ruling is made soon.
“I'm kind of feeling for those 60 survivors that are still looking for a way to bring closures to their suffering,” he said. “They deserve something good. Something better.”
Wesley sat on the hard benches of the Toronto courtroom for hours during the last two days proceedings, listening to lawyers argue over the police and court records from the 1990s.
He said he was one of the people police interviewed. He told them about how he was forced to eat his own vomit during his nine years at St. Anne's.
“It's a horrible experience when you think about when you were just a little one, when you were being abused without even really knowing.”
Wesley came to the courtroom to support other former students. He has already received compensation for the abuse he suffered.
Legal counsel for the federal government declined to comment.
But a statement from the Aboriginal Affairs ministry said it's looking forward to the court's direction on the issue.
The justice in the case will rule on whether the federal government and OPP should have to disclose the documents for use in the Independent Assessment Process, the body that determines the credibility of claims, and decides on compensation. However the Crown argues documentary evidence is not needed for the process.
The lawyer for a group of residential school survivors on the James Bay Coast has a different opinion about what is to come.
“I think we are going to see a large level of disclosure about the widespread physical and sexual abuse at St. Anne's finally coming out,” Fay Brunning said.
“I'm optimistic there will be a new narrative that will properly reflect how atrocious this place was and why people still suffer today.”