Lawyer Hopes N.W.T. Will OK Residential School Deal

By Stephanie Waddell
Whitehorse Daily Star [Canada]
December 29, 2006

A Whitehorse lawyer who has represented numerous residential school survivors hopes judges in the Northwest Territories will follow the rest of the country in deciding to approve the settlement for survivors of the system.

"This is big step towards the end of the process," Laura Cabott said in a recent interview. She spoke following Yukon Supreme Court Judge Ron Veale's 25-page decision approving the package.

The deal was reached between first nations, federal government and church leaders. It would see survivors receive $10,000 for the first year they were in the system at an approved school and $3,000 for every subsequent year.

While the federal government paid for the school system across the country, churches ran the school system from 1920 until the last school closed in 1997.

In addition to the common experience payment, $125 million would also go to healing programs. Another $60 million would be poured into researching and documenting the survivors' experiences and $20 million would be devoted to commemorative projects.

There would also be an independent assessment process set up to compensate those who suffered further psychological, physical or sexual abuse at the schools.

All nine courts must sign onto the deal, with the N.W.T. being the only one left to approve it unconditionally. After that, if 5,000 survivors opt out of it, it would become void.

Cabott noted that while Veale had some concerns about the deal, she was pleased he didn't put any conditions on his approval. Doing so, she said, would have opened it up again and potentially caused delays in approval.

"That would've been very dangerous," she said, noting Veale also made some positive comments about the deal.

"Clearly, (it was) an agreement reached by all parties," she said.

Cabott was unsure when a decision will come down on the agreement from the Northwest Territories.


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