The Grand Council of the Crees

Update on the Residential School Settlement

Posted: 2006-05-12

Community Consultations

This is to inform you that the GCC/CRA Council/Board has mandated Matthew Coon Come and Diane Soroka to carry out a tour of all Cree communities in order to inform and consult with residential school survivors on the content of the residential school settlement which was approved on May 10, 2006.

We have and will be contacting the communities to coordinate dates and to make sure people have enough notice of the consultation meetings. It is our intention to start the community visits in a few weeks. During this consultation, all Indian Residential School within Eeyou Istchee will have an opportunity to get the details of the proposed settlement as well as the details of the legal process which will affect their rights.

Background

On November 20,2005, an Agreement in Principle was reached between AFN,Canada, a number of churches, class action lawyers, and independent lawyers to settle claims relating to residential schools. Back in December, 2005 Matthew Coon Come and Diane Soroka reported to the Council/Board on the developments in the residential school file and, in particular, on the negotiations with Canada for the settlement of survivors? claims. When the Council/Board reviewed the Agreement in Principle, they agreed to approve it in principle but stated that any approval would be subject to consultations with the survivors.

Several more months of negotiations took place. . Diane Soroka has been able to attend these meetings on behalf of GCCEI because she has represented residential school survivors. Matthew Coon Come has been involved on this file and works closely with Mrs. Soroka and both report to the Grand Chief and the Council/Board of GCCEI/CRA as these meetings progress. In addition, Grand Chief Matthew Mukash met personally with Frank Iacobucci (the negotiator for Canada) to bring forward some of the Cree concerns particularly in regard to ensuring that survivors were properly informed and that they would have adequate time to make the important decisions required by the settlement.

Update

Although the government has approved the final settlement, the legal process is not yet over. Because the settlement is an out-of-court settlement of 19 different class actions, it must be approved by courts in 9 different jurisdictions. This is a complex process and it will affect the survivors? legal rights.

When will payments be made?

For most survivors, there will be no payment until 2007. Because of the complexity of the settlement process which will take at least another 7-8 months to complete, it is unlikely that there will be any payments made to residential school survivors until early in 2007 with the exception of the advance payment (see below). Many people mistakenly think they will get a payment soon and they are taking loans or buying goods on credit and getting into financial trouble because of it. Please advise them to be careful.

Advance Payment

There will be an advance payment of $8000.00, which will be made to survivors who were at least 65 years old as of May 30, 2005. There is an application form which must be filled out. You can get the form by calling 1-800-816-7293. It can also be accessed at the following website: www.irsr-rqpi.gc.ca [Opens a new window]. Proof of age, such as a copy of a birth certificate or driver?s license is required. The application form has an instruction sheet to help fill out the form. This is an advance and it will be deducted off any future payment made to the individual under the settlement.

Further Information

This is just a first bulletin. We will be providing further information about the settlement and the dates for the upcoming community visits in the coming days and weeks. You can also email or call us with your questions.

Matthew Coon Come 613-761-1655 or mcc@gcc.ca

Diane Soroka 514-939-3384 or dsoroka@bellnet.ca