Wednesday April 16, 2014

Court ruling expected to speed up residential school lawsuit

Shane Gottfriedson

The chief of the Tk’emlups Indian Band applauded the Federal Court’s decision rejecting a request by the Government of Canada that churches be added to a class action lawsuit by residential school day students.

Chief Shane Gottfriedson said in a news release Wednesday the ruling means the court case won’t be slowed down by the addition of churches to the lawsuit.

“Justice (Sean) Harrington clearly understands the importance of this case to our people and is sending a strong message to Canada that we can no longer tolerate delays in bringing this matter to a resolution,” he said in the release

Gottfriedson could not be reached for further comment. About 200 band members were day scholars at the reserve’s residential school between 1920 and 1979.

The TIB and Sechelt Indian band launched a joint lawsuit in August 2012 to seek compensation for those who attended residential schools during the day. Ottawa has provided compensation for those who were in residence at the schools, but not day students.

The Canadian government wanted to add churches as defendants on the lawsuit claim, pointing out they were responsible for the day-to-day operation of the schools.

But if the churches had been allowed, it would have slowed the process down by months or even longer. The lawsuit is expected to be certified next year.

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