Feds announce Indian Day Schools settlement

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The federal government has reached a proposed settlement with former Indian Day Schools students.

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya was in Ottawa for the announcement on March 12 where he honoured Garry McLean, the lead plaintiff in a $15 billion, class-action lawsuit originally filed in 2009 on behalf of Indigenous people and their families who attended Indian Day Schools.

Norman Yakeleya during a committee meeting at the legislative assembly on Aug. 24, 2015. Shane Magee/NNSL photo

“My dear friend … is not here to witness this with us, but I am sure he is with us in spirit,” said Yakeleya.

McLean passed away last month after a lifetime of advocacy work on behalf of Indigenous people. He was a driving force behind the campaign for justice for day school survivors, said Yakeleya.

As part of the proposed settlement, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced that each survivor would receive $10,000 in compensation.

Those who experienced physical or sexual abuse at the schools are eligible for additional compensation of between $50,000 and $200,000.

In addition, the federal government will be establishing the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation for Legacy Projects, a $200 million fund to support healing initiatives for those affected by day schools.

An agreement-in-principle was announced in December 2018 for the almost 200,000 Indigenous children who attended federally funded day schools where many students suffered abuses similar to those who attended residential schools.