Quicker residential school payouts urged
WINNIPEG (CP) — Two days of hearings in a Winnipeg courtroom ended Friday with survivors of physical and sexual abuse at Indian residential schools urging the court to speed up payouts from a $1.9-billion compensation package.
The deal is not ideal, but the suffering has gone on long enough, said 10 survivors who stepped forward Friday.
If the deal goes through, it will beApril or May before the first cheques, averaging $25,000, go in the mail.
“I have to say I accept the settlement, but under great duress,” survivor Valerie Wood said.
In a day of tragic testimony, there was one story that had lawyers and survivors chuckling.
Josie Bear from Peguis First Nation, 220 kilometres north of Winnipeg, related a tale of one senior who received an $8,000 advance payment under provisions that fast-tracked money for people aged 65 and older this summer.
“He’s carrying a cell phone around, even though there’s no cell service,” said Bear. “He’s got something, and that makes me happy.”
The survivors said they attended schools either in Manitoba or Ontario for nine to 14 and 1960s.
Most are poor and many said the long wait to get cheques is frustrating.
Survivor Ted Fontaine said lawyers and governments don’t seem to be keeping track of millions of dollars spent behind the scenes on legal briefs and consultants’ reports, but he said the deal should go through.
“For some survivors, it will clear the path to begin healing.”
Queen’s Bench Justice
Schul- man turned over the second day of hearings to survivors. Droves had shown up the first day to speak and never got the chance.
Under the terms of the settlement, nine provincial courts, including Manitoba’s, must hold public hearings and approve the deal.
In addition to court approval, the settlement calls for a waiting period of six months to allow survivors who would rather take their chances in court to register formal objections.