From: Subject: Settlement moves closer for class-action suit Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2006 09:24:19 -0700 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; type="text/html"; boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0000_01C721BD.21857B40" X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.2962 This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_0000_01C721BD.21857B40 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Location: http://www.lethbridgeherald.com/printer_5258.php Settlement moves closer for class-action = suit
From LethbridgeHerald.com

Local = News
Settlement moves closer for = class-action=20 suit
By LETHBRIDGE HERALD
Dec 16, 2006, = 23:00

A class-action settlement involving thousands of former = students=20 of the aboriginal residential school system from across the = country=20 is a step closer to resolution.
The settlement was = negotiated=20 more than a year ago but for it to pass judges in each of = the nine=20 jurisdictions the settlement involves must approve it.
As = of=20 Friday, judges in Alberta, five other provinces and the = Yukon had=20 given their approval. Nunavut and the Northwest Territories = must=20 still agree for the settlement to go through.
=93What my = biggest=20 hope is, is that my clients and the other aboriginal people = who were=20 locked up in these schools will now be able to believe that = they=20 have been heard and that there were some of us who heard = them from=20 when they started to speak,=94 said Rhonda Ruston, a lawyer = who has=20 represented 600 First Nations people from the Blood and = Piikani=20 reserves for the past decade.
She said she hopes the = litigation=20 has allowed her clients to be heard on a wider level and the = harms=20 they suffered are now publicly recognized, not only to have = been=20 unnecessary, but also unspeakably cruel.
As part of the=20 settlement, all those students who have attended residential = schools=20 =97 whether they were involved in one of the lawsuits or not = =97 would=20 be eligible for =93common experience payments.=94
If the = settlement=20 is approved by all of the justices, it will mean each First = Nations=20 person who attended one of the schools will be eligible for = $10,000=20 for their first year of school and $3,000 for each full or = part year=20 after that.
It is estimated there could be up to 79,000 = former=20 students across the country who could be affected by the = proposed=20 settlement.
In southern Alberta, if the settlement is = approved it=20 could mean settlements for those who attended St. Paul=92s = or St.=20 Mary=92s residential schools on the Blood Reserve or Sacred = Heart or=20 St. Cyprian residential schools on the Piikani = Reserve.
Ruston=20 said it was important to the lawyers negotiating the = agreement that=20 not only their clients but others who suffered in the = residential=20 schools were included in the settlement. She said in many = cases=20 First Nations people are still scared to speak openly about = their=20 experiences in residential schools.
Individuals who = suffered=20 physical or sexual abuse can also apply through the = =93independent=20 assessment process=94 and undergo a hearing to be eligible = to receive=20 additional compensation that could range from $5,000 to=20 $275,000.
Ruston said if all the justices approve the = settlement,=20 court orders will need to be filed in the various = jurisdictions.=20 There would be an opting out time, whereby those who wanted = to=20 continue to pursue the case could do so. If 5,000 people = were to opt=20 out nationally, then the settlement would be = terminated.
She=20 doesn=92t expect former students will be able to start = applying for=20 the compensation until at least June.
As part of the = settlement=20 $125 million would be put toward the aboriginal healing = fund, $60=20 million for a truth and reconciliation process to document = what went=20 on at the schools and $20 million for commemorative = projects.
The=20 settlement agreement came about in November 2005 after = lawyers from=20 across the country, on behalf of former residential school = students,=20 worked for years on lawsuits against the federal government = and the=20 various religious organizations that ran the = schools.
=93I still=20 think the government needs to make a formal apology. It was = the=20 government that created those institutions,=94 Ruston said. = She said=20 for the lawyers involved it has been important the public = was=20 educated on what went on and that the First Nations = population had a=20 chance to be heard.
=93I hope with that sense of being = heard will=20 come a power in each individual heart to start to heal = themselves=20 and their communities,=94 said Ruston.
As part of the = settlement,=20 legal fees for the lawyers who negotiated the settlement = over the=20 past number of years won=92t come out of the settlement = dollars for=20 the former students but out of a separate $100-million fund. =
=A9 Copyright by=20 = LethbridgeHerald.com

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