Former residential school students have only seven weeks left to avail themselves of an out-of-court process to resolve claims of sexual abuse, serious physical abuse and other “wrongful acts” suffered at the residential schools.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is reminding former students that the deadline for compensation under the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) is Sept. 19, 2012.
The IAP is a key component of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), described as the largest class action settlement in Canadian history. Supervised by nine provincial and territorial courts, the IAP adjudicates abuse claims and allocates compensation of up to $275,000.
“Those who have not withdrawn from the settlement agreement may only pursue abuse claims through the (IAP), not the courts,” said a statement from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. [There were 201 former students who opted out of the IRSSA prior to its implementation in September 2007.]
The schools agreement involves former students, the federal government and churches that administered the schools in the 19th century. The Anglican Church of Canada administered about three dozen schools and is a signatory to the agreement.
As of June 30, 2012, the IAP has received a total of 27, 353 claims; decisions have been rendered to 13, 847 of these, according to the website of the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat.
The average current payment, including legal costs, is $117, 613. A total of $1.560 billion in compensation has been disbursed so far. The federal government allocated $960 million for the claims, and Adjudication Secretariat officials have stated that more funds will be needed since more applications are expected as the deadline looms. In addition, some 11,065 IAP claims are still in progress, 2,259 are in continuing Alternative Dispute Resolution process and 2,441 were either withdrawn or found ineligible.
Former students who have received a Common Experience Payment (CEP), another element of the IRSSA, can also apply to the IAP. The CEP application process ended in September last year. However, applications will be accepted until Sept. 12, 2012 for those unable file claims earlier due to disability, undue hardship and exceptional circumstances.
About 80,000 school survivors were expected to file claims from the $1.9 billion CEP fund set aside under the agreement.
More information about the IAP can be found online or by calling 1-866-879-4913.