Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools settlement agreement

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Read the prime minister's apology to former students and the families of the Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools behalf of the Government of Canada. The apology is also available in Inuttitut and Innu-Aimun.

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Background

In 2007 and 2008, five class action lawsuits were filed against Canada in the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador regarding provincially-administered boarding schools attended by Inuit, Innu and Nunatukavut individuals. Plaintiffs in these lawsuits claimed sexual and physical abuse, neglect, language and cultural loss and that Canada owed a fiduciary duty to them.

The schools involved were:

The schools were administered by the province and operated by third parties: the International Greenfell Association and the Moravian Mission. Canada's role was in providing funding to the province to be used for the educational needs of Indigenous students in Labrador. The last school was closed in North West River in 1980.

The trial began on September 28, 2015. On November 25, 2015, following an agreement between the province and the plaintiffs, the court released Newfoundland and Labrador from the action.

In February 2016, the parties agreed to an adjournment in an effort to move the litigation towards a resolution. These discussions subsequently led to the negotiation of an out-of-court settlement between the parties.

On September 28, 2016, upon conclusion of the Fairness Hearing, Justice Stack of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the settlement agreement as fair, reasonable and in the best interests of the class members.

Under the terms of the settlement, Canada has provided a lump sum payment of $50 million to plaintiffs to address all of their claims. This approach has enabled former students, together with their counsel, to formulate a settlement which respects the terms most satisfactory to them, one which recognizes the needs of the former students from their own perspective, and with provisions for healing and commemoration.

About the apology

Through settlement negotiations, the plaintiffs indicated that they were hurt and frustrated by their exclusion from the 2008 Indian Residential Schools Apology given by Prime Minister Harper, and have clearly stated that an official apology is essential to their healing and ability to move forward.

On August 3, 2017, INAC officials, supported by Justice Canada, met with representative plaintiffs, their counsel and interested Indigenous stakeholder organizations to collaboratively determine the themes and considerations that should form part of an official apology, as well as the ceremony which accompanied its delivery.

On November 24, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered an official apology in Happy Valley Goose Bay, Labrador on behalf of the Government of Canada, to former students and the families of the Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools. …

Healing and commemoration

Canada will fund separate initiatives for healing and commemoration of the schools. These initiatives were designed in consultation with plaintiffs, through an advisory panel of representative plaintiffs, counsel and INAC.

On May 10, 2017, Ministerial Special Representative James Igloliorte was appointed to lead the healing and commemoration portion of the settlement agreement. Mr. Igloliorte is a retired provincial judge, class member and Inuk man who is a lifetime resident of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Igloliorte is working closely with former students, their families and communities and the local Indigenous groups — Nunatsiavut Government, NunatuKavut Community Council and the Innu Nation, as well as Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and others — to ensure initiatives are carried out respectfully, with the participation of interested former students, and are in line with the agreement and projected time frame.

Commemoration initiatives will include:

Healing initiatives will include:

Biography of James Igloliorte, Ministerial Special Representative

James Igloliorte of Hopedale, Newfoundland and Labrador is a retired provincial court judge. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education from Memorial University, Newfoundland in 1974. He and his wife, Linda Carter, then started their career as teachers on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Appointed first as a lay magistrate in 1980, he took responsibility of the Labrador court and circuit system, then completed law school at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1985. He then returned to take up duties in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as a circuit judge, a position which he held for the majority of his career. James Igloliorte was a 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in the category of Law and Justice. He stepped down from the bench in 2004.

In addition to his impressive legal career, James Igloliorte is a past Labrador Director with the Innu Healing Foundation and was a commissioner with the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada. He has also worked as Newfoundland and Labrador's child and youth advocate and was commissioner of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission in Nunavut.

James Igloliorte and his wife, Linda Carter, live in St. John's, Newfoundland and have four children and four grandchildren.

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