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Consultations to begin on legacy fund for Indian Day School survivors

Peter Pond School, in Fort Resolution, was one of the former federally-run Indian day schools in the NWT
Peter Pond School, in Fort Resolution, was one of the former federally-run Indian day schools in the NWT. Native Press/NWT Archives

The McLean Day Schools Settlement Corporation is beginning consultations on how to roll out a $200-million fund earmarked for initiatives that support Indian Day School survivors and their families.

The national organization, which will administer the fund, held a virtual launch ceremony on Thursday featuring traditional music, drumming, and dancing, with interpretation available in Cree, Inuktitut, Ojibway, French, and English. 

“Now that the conversation on the legacy of colonialism and impact of residential schools in Canada has been renewed, it is vital that survivors of Indian Day Schools are not forgotten,” Elder Claudette Commanda, a survivor and chief executive of the corporation, said in a statement. 

Day school survivors began legal action against the federal government in 2009 with Garry McLean, who died of cancer in February 2019, as the lead plaintiff. In 2019, the federal court approved a national $1.47-billion settlement to compensate survivors, including the $200-million legacy fund for community-based projects that support healing, wellness, education, language, culture, truth-telling, and commemoration of Indian Day School survivors. 



“This will be the enduring legacy of Garry McLean, and the resulting healing, truth-telling, and commemoration that will come out of it will be a testament to his spirit,” Commanda said.

Virtual, town hall-style engagement sessions will now be held to consult survivors and their families about the legacy fund.

According to the corporation, approximately 200,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend 669 federally operated Indian Day Schools across Canada, including several in the Northwest Territories.

Board members of the national organization include James Igloliorte, Labrador’s first Inuk judge, and Roger Augustine, Aboriginal First Nations regional chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.