The federal Indian day school class action is one of many things that has had to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The law firm handling the settlement cancelled in-person sessions aimed at assisting class members with filling out forms and addressing any legal questions they may have. Those sessions have now moved online.
“We recognize that many claimants are Elders living in remote communities, and bringing everyone together creates a possible risk of exposure,” a news release from lawyers Gowling WLG states.
The law firm has instead been hosting community assistance sessions by video since April 8. One-on-one virtual help is available by request and the class action website has online tools to help claimants.
A video conference session for Alberta and Northwest Territories-based claimants is scheduled for April 28 from 4pm MT until 5pm.
A classroom in the Indian Day School in Hay River. Photo: Library and Archives Canada
Timelines for processing claims and payments are not expected to be impacted by Covid-19. Some NWT claimants have received compensation in recent weeks according to a representative from the Dene Nation.
Beginning in the 1920s, an estimated 200,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children were forced to attend Indian day schools across Canada. According to a list of schools whose former students are eligible for compensation, at least 29 were in the Northwest Territories.
In August 2019, the federal court approved a settlement agreement to compensate Indian day school survivors for the damage and abuse they suffered. These federally-run schools were operated separately from Indian residential schools, so survivors were excluded from that settlement agreement.
As a result of the settlement, all Indian day school survivors will receive between $10,000 to $200,000 in individual compensation. The settlement also includes $200 million for community-based legacy projects.
Claim forms can be submitted until July 13, 2022.