Nfld. & Labrador

More time to reach settlement in N.L. residential schools case

Lawyers have been given a few more weeks to try to negotiate an out of court settlement in a class action suit by former students of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has given lawyers until May 9 to reach a settlement. (CBC)

Lawyers have been given a few more weeks to try to negotiate an out of court settlement in a class action suit by former students of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The deadline has been extended from Feb. 29 to May 9.

Negotiations are "moving forward in a positive way," said Kirk Baert, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in an email Friday.

About 1,200 people are represented by the lawsuit, which is before the Supreme Court of  Newfoundland and Labrador.

They attended schools and lived in orphanages run by the International Grenfell Association and Moravian Missionairies, and were not covered by a 2007 settlement and subsequent apology from the Stephen Harper government.

The out of court negotiations, with the help of retired judge Robert Wells, is seen as a sign of hope by plaintiffs who have told stories of physical, sexual and mental abuse.

Brothers Richard and Don Preston, Inuk from Happy Valley-Goose Bay, told Here and Now Thursday that they were abused during the 1960's at an orphanage in St. Anthony.

"It was cruel and unusual punishment and somebody has to pay," said Richard Preston, who lived at the institution from the age of three to 12.

"After this lawsuit is over, I will find closure." 

Richard Preston says he and his two brothers were abused at an orphanage in St. Anthony in the 1960's (CBC)

The plaintiffs are looking for compensation and an apology.

Many said reliving their trauma on the witness stand in court triggered their post traumatic stress disorder.

"When I talk about this stuff, I feel like I'm putting my head in a vise," said Don Preston.

now