Published November 29, 2018 in APTN News
The two bands that first signed on were Kamloops and Sechelt First Nation in British Columbia. Today, there are 101 bands signed on stretching across the country.
One of the lead negotiators is Matthew Coon Come, the former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
He said the Grand Council of the James Bay Cree signed on to the class-action to help those that were excluded but also for the damage caused to bands in their territory.
“It’s the first time you have a case that would consider the impacts of residential school policy on our … societies and on our communities,” said Coon Come. “I think this would certainly help us.”
The main sticking points are the loss of culture and language the bands faced because of residential schools.
“The focus of this is going to be to remedy the very specific damage that was done by the residential school policy,” said John Phillips, one of the main lawyers representing the survivors and bands. “We expect Canada to fund that and overcome the damage that Canada has done through that policy.”
They want Canada to provide a large enough settlement for the bands where that money is put in trust. Then the bands decide what specific programs it needs to help their community.
Negotiations have been on-going for over two years but the final dollar amount is expected to reach several billion.
“Our objective is to find a way for Aboriginal peoples themselves, the bands themselves, can identify where they need to heal,” said Phillips. “We’re hopeful that we’re moving towards some kind of a resolution, although that frankly remains for this government to decide to follow through on.”