New research shows the federal government considered the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium a form of residential school. It operated until 1966.
But it's not clear whether students who went there will be eligible for the government compensation package available to other former students. Children at the hospital often came from a residential school, where they'd contracted tuberculosis. Classes were organized for the children during their recovery.
Mike Cachagee, who speaks for the National Residential School Survivors' Society, said the settlement agreement didn't consider sanatorium schools — but anyone who was in the sanatorium should file a claim immediately.
"The settlement is about to sunset here in September," Cachagee said. "I think the government is just playing a numbers game here now with hopes that time runs out and time plays out in their favour and they don't have to pay."
The Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre did the research and applied to have the Fort William sanatorium school recognized under the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. But Cachagee is concerned the government will say the sanatorium school is outside that settlement agreement.
"There are so many factors out there and equations that were never factored into the overall equation," he said. "The sanatoriums are one of them, [as well as] the loss of records. It just goes on and on and on … [the] issues that were never, ever considered."
A spokesperson for Aboriginal Affairs said it is currently researching the request to have the Fort William Indian Hospital Sanatorium recognized as a residential school.
So far, it has looked into nine other sanatorium schools across the country. None of them were deemed eligible for compensation.