Court decision quashes hopes for Northerners to reopen rejected residential school claims, lawyer says

Friday, January 26, 2018
Walter Strong
CBC News

It was a victory for Canada but a loss for some of his Northern clients, says lawyer Steven Cooper about last week's B.C Supreme Court decision on Indian residential school compensation claims. 

Cooper articled as a lawyer in Hay River, N.W.T., and originally practised there, and is now an Edmonton-based lawyer practicing law in the N.W.T., Nunavut and Alberta. He represents residential school survivors across the North.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown's ruling last week prevents a tribunal established to evaluate claims of abuse on the part of former residential school survivors — the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) — from reopening claims formerly rejected, based on new evidence.

That effectively quashes the hopes of anyone who may have wanted to reopen a claim with the IAP for sexual and physical abuse they may have suffered, but were unable to prove. Former students whose claims had been rejected cannot reopen those claims with the IAP, even with new evidence to support them.

In the decision, Brown ruled reopening claims based on new evidence would violate the terms of the 2006 settlement agreement, and leave the settlement process open-ended.

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