Trial Continues in Newfoundland and Labrador Indian Residential Schools Class Action
ST. JOHN’S, Oct. 26, 2015- On Monday, September 28, 2015, the four-month trial began in Anderson v. Canada, the class action that concerns historical abuse at five Indian Residential Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The opening statements are now complete and all key documents have been admitted into evidence. These documents demonstrate that in the 1950s and 1960s Canada and its lawyers drafted two internal legal opinions in which Canada recognized it held a legal responsibility for Aboriginals in Newfoundland and Labrador. Despite this, Canada failed to comply with its responsibilities. To this day, Canada continues to refuse to take responsibility for the Indian Residential Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2007, a national Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement was reached between Canada and the survivors of the Indian Residential School system in every province and territory except Newfoundland and Labrador. This was the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. The settlement recognized the damage inflicted by the Indian Residential School system on the lives and culture of Canadian Aboriginals and established a $5 billion compensation package for the approximately 150,000 people who were forced to attend these schools.
In 2008, on the floor of the House of Commons, the Prime Minister publicly apologized on behalf of Canada for the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their homes and communities to attend Indian Residential School schools throughout Canada.
Canada specifically excluded the Aboriginals of Newfoundland and Labrador, from both the settlement and the apology.
Next week, the former residents of the Indian Residential Schools in Newfoundland and Labrador will continue testifying about their experiences. They will be made to re-live all of the sexual, physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual abuse they suffered in open court. Weeks of this evidence have already been heard and weeks more are to come.
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