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Let residential school survivors share their stories

Publication: Toronto Star - 17 janvier 2018
Lien: http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2018/01/17/let-residential-school-survivors-share-their-stories.html

Angela Shisheesh, a survivor of the infamous St. Anne’s Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., would like her harrowing story of abuse to be part of the historical record, accessible to the public like those of many of her fellow victims. Yet because she, like so many others, settled her legal case before 2006, it is up the organizations responsible for her maltreatment to determine whether her testimony can be made public.

The Catholic groups that ran the schools, if they have any sense of shame or any concern for the project of reconciliation, should immediately heed the call of Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett and grant permission to Shisheesh, and all those in a similar position, to tell their stories.

When the Indian Residential Schools Agreement was signed in 2006, settling class action lawsuits against the federal government and the churches that ran the schools, survivors were awarded more than just money.

18 janvier 2018

New abuse evidence not enough to reopen rejected Indian residential school claims, says court

Publication: CBC - 17 janvier 2018
Lien: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/evidence-court-residentialschools-1.4492205

A British Columbia Supreme Court justice ruled Wednesday that new evidence of abuse was not enough to reopen rejected Indian residential school compensation claims. 

Justice Brenda Brown said that reopening concluded compensation claims based on new evidence broke the rules created by the 2006, multi-billion dollar Indian residential school settlement agreement between Ottawa, the churches and survivors.

Brown said allowing cases to reopen on these grounds could also trigger a chain reaction without end, undermining one of the core aims of the agreement — finality.

"Claims that were dismissed could result in awards and claims where lower awards were made initially could result in higher awards," wrote Brown, one of nine justices across the country responsible for supervising the settlement agreement. "Finality would be either impossible or very difficult to achieve."

he settlement agreement created a unique tribunal model to determine compensation payouts: the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). The legal battle that led to the ruling played out over what is allowed within the IAP.

18 janvier 2018

Judge says lawyer slandered court for suggesting it favoured Canada on St. Anne s case

Publication: CBC - 17 janvier 2018
Lien: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/judge-st-anne-s-residential-school-lawyer-reprimand-1.4490498

An Ontario judge responsible for supervising the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement says a lawyer representing survivors from St. Anne's residential school "slandered the court" by suggesting it was biased in favour of the federal government.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell released a scathing order on Monday aimed at Fay Brunning, an Ottawa-based lawyer who has represented survivors from St. Anne's for several years, scoring major victories along the way.

Cases from the Fort Albany, Ont., school, where a homemade electric chair used for punishment and sport, have been marred by Ottawa's decision to initially sit on thousands of documents from an Ontario Provincial Police investigation launched in the 1990s that led to charges and convictions of former school staff.

Perell took exception to recent court filings by Brunning alleging the court gave "preferential treatment" to Canada. Perell also expressed discomfort with an email Brunning sent on Jan. 12 to the court counsel where she stated the court had "neglected to enforce its own orders against Canada" in cases involving St. Anne's survivors and that it always "presumes Canada to be truthful."

17 janvier 2018

Carolyn Bennett asks Catholic groups to allow residential school survivors to have documents outlining abuse made public

Publication: Globe and Mail - 15 janvier 2018
Lien: http://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/carolyn-bennett-asks-catholic-groups-to-allow-residential-school-survivors-to-have-documents-outlining-abuse-made-public/article37615745/

The federal government is urging Catholic groups that ran Indian residential schools to allow former students who settled their abuse cases before a compensation deal was signed with school survivors to file their court documents with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Justice Department lawyers say permission from both the government and the Catholic entities is required before abuse survivors who launched court cases before 2006, when the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was struck, can house papers related to their cases at the centre in Winnipeg that is chronicling the schools' tragic legacy.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December the government will waive the privilege it asserts over the records pertaining to the lawsuit launched by Angela Shisheesh for the hardships she endured at the infamous St. Anne's Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., where former students say they were tortured in a makeshift electric chair and forced to eat their own vomit.

Carolyn Bennett, the Minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations, has written a letter that is being sent to the roughly 50 Catholic entities that ran the schools asking them to do the same for everyone in Ms. Shisheesh's situation – essentially requesting that the Church allow more documents detailing the abuse suffered by the students to be made public.

16 janvier 2018

St. Anne s residential school survivors want mediation, say Ottawa keeps fighting claims

Publication: CBC - 15 janvier 2018
Lien: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/st-anne-residential-school-iap-call-for-mediation-1.4488353

Survivors from an Indian residential school that used a homemade electric chair for punishment want the federal government to enter into mediation to settle their claims.

Three survivors from St. Anne's Indian residential school made the call Monday during a news conference in Ottawa with NDP MP Charlie Angus.

he survivors accused the federal government's lawyers of suppressing and denying evidence of widespread abuse at the school which operated in Fort Albany, Ont., along the James Bay coast.

They said the government has played legal hardball during hearings under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP), which was created by the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement to determine compensation amounts.

16 janvier 2018

Court Says Ottawa Can Reject Police, Court Transcripts as Evidence in St. Anne s Residential School Cases

Publication: CBC - 10 janvier 2018
Lien: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/st-annes-court-rules-opp-transcripts-can-be-rejected-as-evidence-1.4478665

Ottawa can continue to reject the use of police and court transcripts as evidence in student-on-student compensation claims from survivors who attended St. Anne's Indian Residential School, according to a recent ruling.

The ruling, issued by Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell on Jan. 4, concluded the courts could not force Ottawa to admit to abuse under the terms of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. The agreement created a system for setting compensation levels known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).

The IAP was created as an adversarial process where Canada could challenge evidence and survivors had to provide proof to support their claims for compensation, said Perell, one of the judges tasked with supervising the settlement agreement. He said the courts could not rewrite the settlement agreement.

"Canada is under no general obligation to surrender … to make an admission of defeat," wrote Perell, in his ruling.

"The compensation part of the [settlement agreement] is not subsumed by the truth and reconciliation part.... Canada is contractually entitled to oppose IAP claims."

The ruling gave Ottawa a legal victory in its ongoing, multi-faceted legal battle with residential school survivors from St. Anne's Indian Residential School, which operated near the mouth of the Albany River along Ontario's James Bay Coast.

10 janvier 2018

B.C lawyer facing residential school discipline now signing up 60s Scoop survivors

Publication: APTN - 27 décembre 2017
Lien: http://aptnnews.ca/2017/12/27/b-c-lawyer-facing-residential-school-discipline-now-signing-60s-scoop-survivors/

A lawyer facing a disciplinary hearing for his work with residential school survivors is actively signing up ‘60s Scoop adoptees, APTN News has learned.

Vancouver lawyer Stephen Bronstein, who was investigated and put under supervision, is being accused of unprofessional conduct by the Law Society of British Columbia.

The website of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation on Vancouver Island reports Bronstein twice visited the community last summer for an information session on the 60s Scoop settlement. 

Bronstein worked under a supervisory lawyer appointed by the Supreme Court of B.C. after some residential school survivors complained about the way he handled their compensation claims.

Some of the survivors, who cannot be identified under court order, alleged Bronstein employed an ex-con to deliver paperwork and collect their signatures. (link to story)

They further alleged the man, whose parole for murder was revoked after their accusations came to light, extorted them by demanding all or part of their compensation payouts.

“The lawyers are jumping in there already,” said Fred Thomas, a residential school survivor in northwestern Ontario.

Thomas helped dozens of residential school survivors complain to the Law Society of Upper Canada about the way their compensation claims were handled – only to see the case fall apart.

Now, with Ottawa pledging $750 million in financial compensation to ‘60s Scoop survivors, Thomas is expecting more unsavoury behaviour.

03 janvier 2018

Ottawa negotiating with lawyer accused of over-billing for residential school work

Publication: APTN - 29 décembre 2017
Lien: http://aptnnews.ca/2017/12/29/ottawa-negotiating-with-lawyer-accused-of-over-billing-for-residential-school-work/

Ottawa is currently negotiating a 60s Scoop compensation claim with a lawyer it says overbilled the government during the residential school process.

According to court records, the federal government is suing Tony Merchant, a Saskatchewan-based lawyer and spokesperson for a group of four law firms trying to reach a 60s Scoop deal, for fraud, misrepresentation and deceit.

The records state that Ottawa is trying to get millions back from the Merchant Law Group (MLG) from an earlier compensation program – the one for former students of Indian residential schools.

His firm represented more than 7,000 claimants under IRSSA and was paid $25 million in 2008.

But in 2015, Ottawa questioned that amount and filed a civil suit http://canliiconnects.org/en/summaries/46936 seeking that money back plus its legal fees between 1997 and 2005.

The claim alleges Merchant’s electronic billing statements were incorrect.

Especially after some lawyers billed out more than 24 hours in a day, and some records were back-dated by as much as two years.

Merchant Law denies the allegations and filed a counter-suit for $20 million, alleging Ottawa short-changed it by more than $50 million.

03 janvier 2018