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Settlement reached on residential school 'day scholars' class-action lawsuit

Lejac, St. Joseph's included in settlement
Carolyn Bennett 2
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett

A settlement has been reached in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government involving hundreds of First Nations people left out of residential-school compensation.

The lawsuit was brought by Indigenous students known as “day scholars,” who attended the notorious residential schools but returned to their homes at night.

The settlement applies to those who attended any of more than 70 schools across Canada,  including those who attended Lejac near Fraser Lake and St. Joseph's in Williams Lake between Jan. 1, 1920 and Feb. 28, 1968.

The full list is posted at www.justicefordayscholars.com.

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the settlement will see survivors receive compensation of $10,000 each. 

To address additional harms suffered by the students at the school, Ottawa will also invest $50 million into a Day Scholars Revitalization Fund. 

Two survivors of the schools, Charlotte Gilbert and Diena Jules, say they are heartened to finally be recognized for the pain and horrors they endured at the schools after fighting for 14 years to receive compensation. 

Jules, who attended the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, says she was treated as less than human, and says it was not acceptable they were not included as part of the 2006 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, which compensated students who did not go home at night. 

The settlement remains subject to approval by the Federal Court and a hearing on the matter is scheduled to begin on September 7.

All day scholars who were alive as of May 30, 2005, are included in the settlement, law firm Waddell Phillips says in a statement. In cases where a day scholar has died since that date, their families or estates are able to apply on their behalf. 

The settlement does not affect the claims sought in a separate class action brought on behalf of Indigenous communities "as a result of the destruction of language and culture caused by residential schools," Waddell Phillips says. 

A trial on that matter is to continue in the latter half of next year.

- with files from Canadian Press