Alberta First Nations join calls to extend the Day School Settlement application deadline

By Jeremy Appel, LJI Reporter 

(ANNews) – The Confederacy of Treaty 6 Nations, G4 Nations and the Sovereign Nations of Treaty 8 are joining calls for the federal government to extend the application deadline for compensating day school survivors. 

The deadline to submit claims for the Federal Indian Day School Class Action Settlement is July 13. 

“Federal Indian Day School survivors and the families of deceased survivors are becoming

increasingly distressed at the fast-approaching deadline as they feel their issues and concerns regarding the claims process are being ignored by the federal government,” said Treaty 6 Grand Chief George Arcand Jr. in a news release. 

In 2019, the federal government announced a $1.47-billion settlement with thousands of survivors of day schools, which operate independently of residential schools. 

There were around 700 day schools across Canada from 1863 to 2000, with an estimated 200,000 attendees, many of whom were forced to attend. 

Treaty 8 Grand Chief Arthur Noskey said governments and churches haven’t provided all the documents and needed to prove many claims.

“We require this information to support our citizens in the claims process to ensure no one is missed,” said Grand Chief Noskey. “How can you have ‘Reconciliation without the Truth’ when these records have not been released?”

In their news release, the nations say it’s unfair to expect survivors to “relive their traumas through an application process so the government can ‘measure the trauma’ they suffered in these schools.”

“This action perpetuates Canada’s continued discriminatory and dehumanizing practices on our citizens,” the release says. 

This request comes two weeks after the Chiefs of Ontario asked for a deadline extension. 

“We feel that the process is unfair to survivors, and survivors are not getting the justice that they’re asking for,” Wikwemkoong Chief Duke Peltier Wednesday said at the Chiefs of Ontario’s Annual Chiefs Assembly on June 17. “We do need action immediately.” 

Forty-five chiefs in attendance at the assembly signed a letter asking for a two-year extension for filing claims. 

They also want to ensure claimants are able to change the amount of their claim and that in-person counselling be available to them, rather than phone support.

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare, a day school survivor, told CBC News the federal government needs to be more attentive to the needs of day school survivors. 

Anyone that was traumatized in their young years, believe me, they don’t want to talk about it or they’re not comfortable talking about it and they probably won’t even disclose the real heavy side of what happened to them,” Hare said. 

As of June 3, a total of 148,218 claims had been filed, with 77 per cent of them granted. 

In February, the Anishinabek Nation, which represents 39 First Nations throughout Ontario, wrote a letter to multiple federal ministers calling for the deadline to be extended by one year. Nations in New Brunswick expressed similar concerns in April.  

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