Gottfriedsson class-action settlement expected to be approved any day now

The lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit against the government demanding it be held accountable for the horrors experienced by Indigenous day scholars at Residential Schools said it would mean “everything” for the suit to be finally settled and resolved in Federal Court late last month.

The settlement is expected to be approved by the Federal Court any day now.

Former Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Shane Gottfriedson testified that reaching the settlement with the federal government “means everything” to him.

Gottfriedson said it was “about time Canada steps aside” and let First Nations themselves decide how to mitigate the harms done by Residential Schools.

Gottfriedsson and fellow B.C. chief Garry Feschuk launched the lawsuit more than a decade ago to seek justice and reparations for day scholars abused while attending Residential Schools.

“It has taken Canada far too long to own up to its history, own up to the genocide it committed and recognize the collective harm caused to our Nations by Residential Schools,” Feschuk said. “It is time that Canada not only recognize this harm, but help undo it by walking with us. This settlement is a good first step."

First Nations leaders across the country are voiced their formal support earlier this year for a $2.8-billion settlement agreement to the Gottfriedsson day-scholars lawsuit.

First Nations leaders and the federal government announced the agreement in principle in January to settle the legal action for plaintiffs representing 325 nations seeking to address the harms done to their members by the Residential Schools program.

Current Tk'emlúps te Secwépemc Chief Roseanne Casimir was equally effusive, saying it’s taken Canada far too long to pay for the harms they enacted on generations of Indigenous youngsters.

"Canada spent over 100 years trying to destroy our languages and cultures through Residential Schools. Canada did not succeed, but it did cause profound damage,” she said. “It is going to take incredible efforts by our Nations to restore our languages and culture – this settlement gives Nations the resources and tools needed to make a good start."

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase