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Ottawa, plaintiffs agree to settle 'Indian boarding homes' class action
Posted: Apr 5, 2023
At Stevens & Co, an Indigenous-owned and operated law firm specializing in Indigenous Law in Canada, we are deeply committed to advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples who have been affected by the residential school system. The recent agreement-in-principle reached between the Canadian government and lawyers for survivors of boarding homes for Indigenous students is a significant milestone in delivering justice to those who were impacted by the program.
The federally run program saw an estimated 40,000 Indigenous youth placed in non-Indigenous boarding homes, where they suffered cultural destruction and abuse between 1951 and 1992. We commend the courage of the plaintiffs who came forward to share their stories and stand in solidarity with them during this difficult journey.
This agreement-in-principle is a significant step towards reconciliation, and we believe that it presents an opportunity for Ottawa to deliver justice to survivors of Canada's assimilationist residential school-era policies who were left out of prior settlements. Lead plaintiff Reginald "Reg" Percival, a member of the Nisga'a Nation and an addictions support worker in Vancouver, describes the extreme racism and violence he experienced at boarding homes in British Columbia and Alberta that left him with trauma that he continues to grapple with. For those like Percival, the road to healing and closure will only truly begin once the apology and compensation package have been finalized.
The boarding homes lawsuit is one of the few major remaining cases dealing with residential school-era policies that the Trudeau government has been trying to settle. While we recognize the progress that has been made, there is still much work to be done to address the ongoing impacts of residential schools. At Stevens & Co, we remain committed to advocating for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada and holding those responsible for past wrongs accountable.
We urge the government to continue to implement the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and work towards a future that is just and equitable for all. We stand with Indigenous peoples in Canada and remain committed to working towards reconciliation through the lens of Indigenous Law.