Nfld. & Labrador

'It's been a very long haul': Survivors, supporters attend info sessions on residential school settlement

One of the lawyers who negotiated a $50-million settlement for survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador says the deal has met with "universal approval."

The settlement was negotiated at $50-million

Patricia Ford, the Nunatsiavut government's ordinary member for the constituency of Canada, says meetings on a residential school class-action lawsuit have been informative. (Katie Breen/CBC)

One of the lawyers who negotiated a $50-million settlement for survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador says the deal has met with "universal approval."

Members of the class-action lawsuit have been meeting with lawyers in recent days to discuss the settlement, which still has to be approved in court.

"Our obligation is to go out to as many communities as possible, speak to as many people as possible, to explain the settlement that we're asking the court to approve at the end of September," said Steven Cooper, class action lawsuit counsel.

Steven Cooper, one of the lawyers representing residential school survivors in a class action lawsuit, says once the settlement is approved, the next step is an apology from the federal government. (Katie Breen/CBC)

"It's not a complicated settlement, but we're explaining how the $50 million will be used, but we're also explaining how people can get in if they're not already in the class."

Cooper said the meetings — more than a dozen so far across Labrador, in Ottawa, and Saturday in St. John's — have been well attended, with people happy about the settlement.

"There's been universal approval," he said. "Joy — I think to use any other word would be to understate the reaction that we're getting. People are thrilled that this has finally come to an end, and they seem to be specifically happy with all of the provisions as we've put them together to put them to the court."

People are thrilled that this has finally come to an end.- Steven Cooper

Patricia Ford, the Nunatsiavut government's ordinary member of the constituency of Canada, said people are responding well to the meetings, which she have been very informative.

"You can see the interest that people have, because there's so many people turning out to these meetings," she said. "It's been a very long haul for many people and people are looking forward to the final settlement and moving on."

Apology expected

She added that people seemed to be happy with the settlement, and that the next step should be an apology from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on behalf of the federal government.

"A lot of people have mentioned that, that the next thing they are waiting for is an apology."

Cooper agreed that one should be forthcoming, and he hopes one will happen in Goose Bay in the spring.

"We expect it, we hope for it, we can't demand it," he said.

"We do have a prime minister that is accustomed to making appropriate apologies in an appropriate fashion," he added. "We would be very surprised if that didn't happen."

With files from Katie Breen.