Update on Class Action – September 30, 2005
To: Association for Survivors of Shubenacadie Residential School
From: John A. McKiggan
Date: September 30, 2005
Re: Update on Class Action
Government Agrees to Compensation For All Claims:
I have been representing the survivors of the Shubenacadie School since 1996. I have been working with a team of lawyers from across Canada on a National Class Action seeking compensation for all Residential School Survivors and their families. I believe that the success we have had in the various court cases across the country has finally brought enough pressure to bear on the Government of Canada to bring the Government to the table to negotiate a fair compensation package for all Residential School survivors.
Canada has finally agreed to enter into negotiations to settle the claims for all Residential School Survivors. For the last nine years, Canada’s position was that it would only pay compensation for physical and sexual abuse. Canada has now changed its position and has agreed to consider compensating all our clients who ever attended a Residential School (and their families).
McKiggan Appointed to Survivors Negotiating Team:
I have been named to the negotiating team for the National Class Action. I am participating directly in the negotiations with the Federal Government negotiators on behalf of the Association for the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Residential School (ASSIRS).
I am the only lawyer from Atlantic Canada participating in the negotiations with Canada. I am the only lawyer representing the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in the negotiations with Canada. If you are not a member of the Association for the Survivors of the Shubenacadie Residential School (ASSIRS), I am not authorized to negotiate your compensation claim.
We continue to believe that all survivors speaking with one united voice will provide the strongest negotiating position to get the best possible result. We are concerned about tactics that may be used to try to “divide and conquer” the Association membership.
Government Negotiator Appointed:
Canada has appointed Justice Frank Iacobucci, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, to head their negotiations to reach a settlement of all Residential School claims. I have enclosed a copy of the letter I received from Justice Iacobucci about the negotiations.
Mr. Justice Iacobucci will be consulting with Survivor groups as part of the negotiations. I have requested that Justice Iacobucci meet with the executive of ASSIRS. The meeting is scheduled to take place here in Nova Scotia in October.
Deadline for Negotiations:
We do not want negotiations to drag on so we have agreed to a deadline to review the progress of the negotiations on October 15, 2005. If there is no settlement by that date, then all of the parties will make a decision whether to continue negotiating or whether to proceed to court.
We are encouraged that Canada has finally come to the table and agreed to negotiate compensation for all Residential School Survivors. There is no guarantee that a settlement will be reached. If there does not seem to be any reasonable chance of reaching a fair settlement by October 15, 2005, we will recommend continuing with the National Class Action.
If a settlement is reached, we expect that the process involved in getting your individual compensation may be complicated. If a settlement is reached, the fact that we already represent the Shubenacadie survivors will help speed up the process.
Update on Negotiations
Negotiations are scheduled to take place in various cities across Canada throughout August, September and October. I attended the negotiations on behalf of the Shubenacadie survivors in Toronto August 2 and 3, 2005 and in Edmonton, Alberta August 10th and 11th and Toronto August 23 and 24. I will be attending the ongoing negotiation meetings across Canada.
We have discussed a number of issues in the first meetings, including early payments to the sick and elderly, lump sum compensation for all survivors and improving the compensation program for people who suffered physical and sexual abuse.
Is There A Settlement?
I have been advised that certain groups have been holding meetings apparently telling Survivors that there is a settlement and asking them to sign forms to get their compensation cheques.
Rumours that a final deal has been reached ARE FALSE. No final decisions have been made and negotiations are scheduled to continue throughout September and October. I will notify all our clients if and when a settlement is finalized.
We will post further updates on this website: www.apmlawyers.com.