The Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) has been busy answering queries from other First Nations groups wanting to know more about the class action lawsuit they filed in Supreme Court last week.
The SIB, in conjunction with the T’kemlups Indian Band (from Kamloops), filed the suit on Aug. 15, seeking compensation from the federal government for day scholars who were left out of the original residential schools settlement issued in 2005.
Day scholar is a term for students who went to residential school during the day, but returned home at night.
The SIB worked with the Kamloops Band for nearly four years to prepare the suit, but during that time not much information went out to other First Nations because the talks occurred behind closed doors.
“We’re going to talk about how we’re going to get the information out to other First Nations now because our class action document is now public. So we are meeting next week to discuss the next steps,” said SIB Chief Garry Feschuk, referring to a meeting his council will be having with the Kamloops Band.
Interest in the suit has been wide spread. Just one day after it was filed, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) pledged their support.
“The Indian day scholar survivors suffered the same injustices as the Indian residential school survivors,” said FSIN vice chief E. Dutch Lerat in a news release. “Many of them suffered abuse and a loss of language and culture. We estimate there are more than 4,000 Indian day scholar survivors in Saskatchewan waiting for past wrongs to be righted.”
The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in the province who are likely to sign their names to the class action suit in the near future.
Other Bands have been making contact with the SIB and asking for more information in order to get on board, Feschuk said.
However he wouldn’t say how many have officially signed on to the suit so far.
“That’s what we’re going to discuss next week. We know there’s a resolution passed by the FSIN about joining the process, so that’s where it’s at and we have a lot of interest from other nations,” he said. “I’ve talked to a few nations that are scheduling meetings with us and that’s what we’re going to discuss next week. I think it’s too premature to tell you how many, other than we’re moving.”
He has yet to hear anything from the government about the class action suit that is awaiting certification by the courts at the moment.
Day scholar co-ordinator for the T’kemlups Indian Band Jo-Anne Gottfriedson noted that before the court makes its decision the federal government will have 30 days to respond to the class action suit.
The SIB’s lawyer, Peter Grant, was unavailable for further comment on the process by press time Thursday.