According to a report submitted to the court on August 17, retired judge Ian Pitfield found that in some of those 81 cases, survivors received no or less compensation than their original claims. The reason given is that their testimony lacks credibility.
Mr. Pitfield was appointed in April to review 427 compensation cases that were resolved before an Ontario court ordered the federal government in 2014 and 2015 to turn over thousands of police records related to St. Ann’s Residential School.
It was a time of Conservative government.
These files come from a 1992 Ontario Provincial Police investigation into widespread physical and sexual assault at Saint Ann’s Residential School, located on the James Bay coast in northern Ontario.
The investigation lasted six years and produced thousands of pages of documents, including about 900 testimonies from 700 victims describing assaults, sexual assaults, suspicious deaths and a host of other abuses.
Ann’s survivors have fought the current Liberal government for the past six years to reopen these compensation cases. They argued that evidence hidden from police records would have supported the allegations of unbelievable abuse.
Survivor Edmund Metatuaben, who was one of the main voices in the ongoing lawsuit, said he knew a woman who had been repeatedly sexually assaulted by a bishop at the school, but she was not cruel because there were no witnesses.
A person who has been slapped once or twice is to be believed, because the amount of compensation and the severity of the allegations will be very low, did he say.
With the Prosecutor’s Office files on hand, Mr. Mtawabin believes that these serious allegations were not easily dismissed by the arbitrators who decide the compensation amounts.
Mr. Pitfield’s reassessment remains unsatisfactory, according to Metatuabine, with survivors not having the opportunity to hire a lawyer or give their opinion.
You treat them like numbers. You do not know who they are, who they are, the nature of their suffering, or the consequences of their sufferingMr. Matawabin said.
The Residential School Settlement Agreement established a compensation mechanism in 2006, known as the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). Under Prince Edward IslandThe arbitrators heard testimony from survivors to determine the amounts of compensation they could receive.
The federal government has provided most of the documented evidence for the allegations and can also dismiss allegations of abuse.
During the first seven years of Prince Edward IslandThe Federal Department of Justice under the Harper government has refused to release thousands of pages of OPP files relating to Saint Ann’s.
The Trudeau government then spent millions of dollars to fight attempts by St. Anne’s survivors to reopen compensation cases due to the Justice Department’s refusal to release police and court records.
But during the process Prince Edward IslandThe Minister for Crown and Indigenous Relations, Caroline Bennett, has approached an Ontario court’s request to review Saint Anne’s compensation files.
I thought they would open up a different process, take it seriously and have the highest level of commitment and respect for these survivors and not treat them like numbers.Marie Ellen Turbel Lafond, former Justice and House Speaker, said: History of the Indian School and Dialogue Center from the University of British Columbia.
Ms Turpel-Lafond said she expected the federal government to put in place a process more focused on trauma, with qualified personnel going to Sainte-Anne survivors to explain the process.
Anytime another survivor gets reduced to a number, that’s yet another attempt to belittle you and say, we don’t believe you. You don’t count, add again.
It believes that this process, as established, only benefits Canada, not survivors.
Caroline Bennett, Minister for Crown Relations with Indigenous Peoples, who is once again vying as a liberal candidate for the Toronto St. Paul’s, did not respond to a request for comment.
We recognize that this is a difficult situation for many Saint Anne survivors, their families and their communities.This was stated in a statement issued by the ministry.
In addition to supporting the current program, Canada is committed to providing health support funding to Saint Anne applicants during this process. Discussions with survivors’ representatives are ongoing.
NDP candidate Charlie Angus Timmins Bay, who has lobbied for a review of St. Anne’s record as a Member of Parliament, said he saw how the ongoing legal battles with the Liberal government had exhausted and traumatized St. Ann’s survivors once again.
We’ve always said it: No reconciliation is possible in Canada without justice for the survivors of Saint Anne., he added.
With information from CBC
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