Tk'emlups Indian Band joined with Sechelt First Nation Wednesday to launch a class-action lawsuit in federal court in Vancouver seeking compensation for several hundred former residential school students.
The bands held a press event downtown to announcing the legal filing they first made public in spring this year.
Tk'emlups band chief Shane Gottfriedson, who was in Vancouver and is named as representing about 200 band members as a plaintiff, said the band is seeking fairness for those who lost language or culture in residential schools, but did not overnight.
In 2008, Ottawa provided compensation for residential school students through the common experience payment of $10,000 for the first year in a residential school, followed by $3,000 a year thereafter.
Money was also paid for commemorative activities and a truth and reconciliation commission. Only those who suffered specific abuses or lived in dormitories were covered.
"We have roughly 200 members who went to residential school as day scholars," Gottfriedson said.
"The reality is we're showing loss of language, loss of culture and seeking health and wellness for our people… . People have been excluded."
Three law firms are representing the bands, including Fulton Co. in Kamloops. It is represented by Len Marchand Jr., son of former MLA, cabinet minister and Sen. Len Marchand.
Marchand Jr. was a key lawyer on the 2008 settlement with Ottawa.
Gottfriedson said the bands had to eventually turn to the courts after years of failure on the political front to seek compensation for day scholars.
"We've tried to work through the process in a friendly manner. We've been left no option."