Information sessions go online for nationwide Indian day schools settlement claims

By | April 14, 2020

As a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, online instead of in-person assistance will be available in April to claimants of a nationwide settlement to compensate thousands of First Nations, M├ętis and Inuit for harms suffered while attending federally operated day schools.

The claims process began in January for the Federal Indian Day School Class Action settlement, which offers former students a range of compensation between $10,000 and $200,000, based on abuse suffered.

Over a dozen in-person information sessions scheduled to take place in March and April across Canada were cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Sessions by video conference aimed at providing claimants with information about the claims process and how to complete the claim form began on April 8.

Upcoming online sessions

“It’s sad that this pandemic has happened to put a halt to the face-to-face stuff that would have been so much better, but I’m glad they’re finding creative ways to try to move forward,” said lead plaintiff Margaret Swan.

It doesn’t come without concern, though. Swan said she’s worried about those survivors who lack Internet or computer skills.

“There’s people who aren’t going to be able to access anything because they just don’t have Internet, Wi-Fi, and those of us who are limited with technology skills. Those are big issues,” she said.

As day school settlement information sessions and claim submissions move online during the COVID-19 pandemic, Margaret Swan says she’s worried about former students who lack Internet or computer skills. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Swan is also concerned about survivors’ access to proper mental health support throughout the claims process.

“The impact of doing your claim is a big deal. It strikes you emotionally, and takes you back to things that some of us would have preferred to put behind us but in working through this process, it’s a part of it,” said Swan.

“I had hoped there would be a bigger emphasis on providing mental health supports so we can take bigger strides in our healing.”

Claims still being processed

The claims administrator, Deloitte, continues to accept and process claims. Timelines for claims processing and payments are not expected to be affected due to COVID-19, a spokesperson for class counsel told CBC News.

Deloitte, however, posted a note on its website stating it currently cannot receive mail due to a delivery disruption as a result of the pandemic, and does not know how long the situation will last. Until further notice, claimants are encouraged to submit their claims by email or by fax.

The deadline to submit claims is July 13, 2022. 

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