Federal Court approves $1.47 billion settlement for day school survivors

Decision to enable victims to claim compensation for abuse and promote reconciliation

Federal Court approves $1.47 billion settlement for day school survivors
Robert Winogron acted on the case

The Federal Court of Canada has approved the Federal Indian Day Schools settlement agreement, which recognizes the harm inflicted by Federal Indian Day Schools on Indigenous students, the government of Canada announced on Aug. 19.

The Day School Class Action (DSCA) settlement agreement enables individuals to file for compensation for harms, such as physical and sexual abuse, suffered while attending a Federal Indian Day School, according to Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett. The settlement also includes an investment of $200 million in the McLean Day Schools Settlement Corporation for Legacy Projects to promote efforts towards “healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration,” said Bennett in a statement.

“The mistreatment of Indigenous children is a tragic and shameful part of Canada's history that has had devastating effects on generations of families,” Bennett said. “Canada is deeply committed to reconciliation and healing, and will continue the important work of making amends for past wrongs.”

Gowling WLG served as counsel to the plaintiff class in the DSCA. The team which represented the day school victims was led by partners Robert Winogron, Jeremy Bouchard and Brian Crane in Ottawa, and Mary Thomson in Toronto. The firm said the settlement was $1.47 billion.

“We wish to thank the representative plaintiffs and class members for the guidance and experience they have shared with us. In particular, we want to acknowledge the significant work and contributions made by Garry McLean,” a statement by Gowlings said. “Born on the Lake Manitoba First Nation, Mr McLean acted as the lead representative plaintiff in this matter until his sudden passing in February of this year. His leadership, kindness and tireless advocacy will never be forgotten. Miigwetch Garry.”

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