Saskatchewan

Northern Sask. school excluded from federal compensation deal

Members of a northern Saskatchewan First Nation say they're disappointed the federal government isn't including the Timber Bay school in its historic $4-billion residential school agreement.

Members of a northern Saskatchewan First Nation say they're disappointed the federal government isn't including the Timber Bay school in its historic $4-billion residential school agreement.

The Indian and Northern Affairs Department says the Timber Bay School was run by the province of Saskatchewan, so former students aren't eligible for federal money.

"I'm very angry, it hurts," said Richard McKay, a former student. "I just about break down every time we start talking about that place."

The Lac La Ronge Indian Band has been working on this case for the past year. The band says it found documents showing the federal government gave some money to the school.

The band's executive director, Blake Charles, says he's disappointed, even if he did see the federal government's response coming.

"In the back of our minds, at least personally, I didn't expect them to say you're right, you're absolutely right on everything," he said. "They're going to try and defend their argument, which in my opinion is a weaker argument."

An appeal of the decision will be filed, the band says.

Lyle Whitefish, vice-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said he was appalled by the federal decision and that it flew in the face of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology to residential school students.

Between 350 and 400 Lac La Ronge band members attended the Timber Bay school, which is about 250 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

Across Canada, there are more than 70,000 former residential school students. The schools, many closed in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, were the subject of thousands of lawsuits.

Many former students said they suffered physical, sexual and emotional abuse or suffered a loss of language and culture at the schools, which were typically run by churches under the supervision of the federal government. 

Under the common experience portion of the federal compensation program, each former student of a recognized residential school was entitled to $10,000, plus $3,000 for each year he or she attended the school.

More money was made available for those subjected to specific acts of physical or sexual abuse.

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