By Jeremy Appel, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
(ANNews) – Survivors of residential day schools will be able to apply for compensation by December, lawyers who are leading a class action lawsuit say.
These survivors who were able to return home in the evening are called “Day Scholars.” They experienced the same loss of culture and language, and abuse, as those forced to stay overnight, but were excluded from the 2006 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
A settlement for day scholars was approved by the federal court in September, which includes $10,000 in individual compensation for harms suffered, excluding sexual and severe physical abuse but including psychological harm, and loss of language and culture connected with their attendance.
The settlement also established a $50-million Day Scholars Revitalization Fund to support healing, and linguistic and cultural reclamation, for day scholars and their descendants.
“This settlement will ensure compensation for Survivors and their Descendants will happen in their lifetimes,” former shishalh chief Garry Feschuk, who initiated this action with his T’kemlups colleague former Chief Shane Gottfriedson in December 2010, said in a statement.
“Once we are ready to proceed with compensation, there will be a simple claims process. This was designed to minimize the burden on Day Scholars and their Descendants.”
Selina August and Jeannette Jules, who also represent the shishalh and T’kemlups Nations, emphasized in the same statement that their members who attended the day schools shared a very similar experience to those who stayed overnight.
While day scholars could apply for individual compensation for abuses experienced at the schools under the 2006 agreement, they were excluded from “common experience” compensation, which lead to the filing of a class action suit in 2012.
“It was horrific and our Day Scholars were once again left out just as their suffering had been ignored in the Residential School settlement. We now have ensured that all the Day Scholars who were alive as of May 30, 2005 will be compensated for their ‘Common Experience Payment’ and … nobody is left behind,” they wrote.
Claimants will be required to fill out paperwork, but won’t have to provide any information about the horrors they faced at residential schools.
A settlement notice will be sent out shortly advising day scholars of the official start date and process for making claims.
The settlement process cannot begin until after the 60-day appeal period has expired, the CBC reported.
Further information is available on the Justice for Day Scholars website.