The Grand Council of the Crees

Residential School Settlement Update Bulletin #2

Posted: 2006-06-15

As was explained in the first Update, even though the government has approved the final settlement, the legal process is not yet over. Because the settlement is an out-of­court settlement of many different class actions, it must be approved by courts in 9 different jurisdictions across Canada. This process will affect the survivors' legal rights.

The purpose of this Update Bulletin is to give a brief summary of part of this process. Matthew Coon Come and Diane Soroka will also be able to explain this is more detail during their tour of the communities.

There are two parts to the legal process required to approve and implement the Settlement.

Part 1 - Court Approval

a. Why do we need court approval?

There were approximately 19 different class actions that were filed across Canada. Of these, only one (Cloud Class Action) has been certified - that is, authorized by the Court to go ahead. There were also many individual legal actions filed as well.
Because the Settlement is an out-of court settlement of all of the class actions, legal rules require the courts to decide whether the Settlement is fair for the people on whose behalf the class actions were started. In other words, the courts have to approve the terms of the Settlement.
The settlement of the class actions also impacts the rights of people who may have filed individual legal actions.

b. When will this happen?

Originally, it was thought that this court approval process could be carried out this spring. Court dates in May and June were reserved across the country. However, there was a delay in getting Government agreement to the Settlement because of the federal election. The Government of Canada approved the Settlement on May 10, 2006.

Because of this delay, the court approval hearings are now being re-scheduled for the end of August through to October. Not all the dates are final, but we will let you know when they are.

c. What do I need to know about this process?

In order to decide whether the Settlement is a fair one, the Courts will hold hearings. Any person with an interest in the Settlement can tell the Court what he/she thinks of the Settlement. If a person has an objection to the Settlement, he/she can appear at the hearing, either in person or through a lawyer, or he/she can write or call and explain the objection. There will be an address and a toll-free phone number provided for those who wish to make an objection. The Courts will take all of these comments into account in deciding whether or not to approve the Settlement.

You will be getting more information on the details of this process at a later date.

Part 2 – Opt-Out Period

If the Courts approve the Settlement, the second part of the legal process begins. This is known as the "opt-out period".
During the opt-out period, each individual class member must decide whether or not he/she wants to be included in the settlement, and to receive compensation under the settlement. In return for this, the individual must give up all his/her legal rights to sue the government and the churches for anything to do with residential school.
If you do nothing, you will automatically be included in the settlement.

If you do not want to be part of the settlement, then you must opt-out. There will be a specific procedure to do this and it will have to be done within the time delay provided.

The opt-out period cannot start until after all the Courts have approved the Settlement. As it stands now, the opt-out period will probably not start until November or December 2006 and it is supposed to last 5 months. If this changes, we will tell you.
If more than 5000 people opt out of the settlement, Canada can decide not to go ahead with the Settlement.

Again, you will be getting more information about the opt-out period at a later date.

Summary - Where are we now?

At this time, we are at the beginning of the first part of the process - that is, the process to obtain court approval of the Settlement.
Within the next few weeks, you will start seeing notices in the newspapers, posted up at various public places and you will hear them on the radio. Copies of the notices will be sent to all aboriginal communities across Canada as well as to friendship centres, regional organizations and other similar groups. These notices will be the official beginning of the court approval process. Some of you may also get notices in the mail.

The notices will tell you that there is a proposed Settlement. They will tell you the dates of the court hearing in each province and what to do if you want to object to the Settlement.

There will be two different forms of the notice. One is very short (one page) which gives you a very brief summary of the Settlement and the court approval process. There is also a more detailed notice (about 11 pages) which contains more information for those who wish to know more. The notices will also refer to a website and a toll-free number for those who want more information or who have questions.