New Brunswick

Survivors of New Brunswick's 12 Indian day schools can receive compensation, says lawyer

Survivors of New Brunswick's 12 Indian day schools can now apply for compensation for abuse they suffered at the schools. The application process for compensation started earlier this month and runs until 2022.

Applications for compensation open until 2022

Students on the step of the Woodstock Indian day school. (Library and Archives Canada)

Survivors of New Brunswick's 12 Indian day schools can now apply for compensation for abuse they suffered at the schools.

The application process for compensation started earlier this month and runs until 2022.

It's part of a class-action settlement which began after a 2009 legal action. 

The settlement was announced in March 2019.

Paryse Suddith, a New Brunswick lawyer providing assistance to claimants, said Indigenous people had no choice but to attend day schools and the trauma has been long–lasting.

"The education system was mandatory, colonial, religious, paternalistic and discriminatory,"

"It did not reflect the traditional Indigenous ways of educating their children. So it's a collective trauma that will take generations to heal."

Canada operated or funded as many as 699 day schools from the 1860s until as late as 2000.

New Brunswick had 12 of those schools, all operated by the Roman Catholic Church and located on or near First Nations reserves.

The last New Brunswick day school to close was in Metepenagiag, on July 31, 1992.

Suddith said during their time of operation, all Indigenous children would have had to go to either a day school or a residential school.

Thee only Maritime residential school was in Shubenacadie, N.S.

How compensation will work 

Suddith said compensation would vary for each survivor depending on the types of abuse they suffered.

There are different tiers set up from verbal abuse to repeated instances of physical or sexual assault, with compensation ranging from $10,000 to $200,000.

Suddith said that while financial compensation is a good starting point, it doesn't begin to provide adequate compensation.

"It will take generations, many generations, to heal, and [$200,000] isn't going to do it," said Suddith

"There's no money value that you can attach to be able to heal."

Part of the application process is retelling the story of abuse, including evidence of medical records along with written narratives. Medical records are not mandatory, however.

Applications can be submitted until July 13, 2022.

Ottawa-based Gowling WLG, as class counsel, will provide legal assistance to claimants for free and can be reached at 1-888-221-2898. 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly said compensation goes up to $220,000. The correct figure is $200,000. The story also suggested medical evidence of abuse is required, which is not the case.
    Jan 29, 2020 3:47 PM AT

With files from Information Morning Fredericton