March 9, 2023 — Chief Shane Gottfriedson, on behalf of the Tk̓emlúps Te Secwépemc Indian Band, and Chief Garry Feschuk, on behalf of the Sechelt Indian Band and the Sechelt Indian Band and His Majesty The King In Right Of Canada as represented by the Attorney General Of Canada has reached an agreement, and has been ruled and recognized by the courts as being fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the 325 First Nation band class members who have opted in. Furthermore, the lawsuit says that the Government of Canada is responsible for the collective damages to First Nations caused by the IRS system that includes the collective loss of language and culture.
On behalf of Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc Chief and Council we are very pleased to share with our membership that the class action will now allow us to have access to much needed resources. We know that it is going to take incredible efforts by our people to restore what was taken, and now we have the tools to make a good start.
In Justice McDonald’s concluding statement, she stated the following: “settlements are not often described as “monumental”, “historic”, and “transformational”. Here, however, she agreed that those words aptly describe this Settlement Agreement. The flexibility this structure affords to the Band Class members, to set their own priorities to work within the Four Pillars and thereby address needs unique to their Nations, is unprecedented. Further stating that when assessing the reasonableness of the proposed settlement, the Court must consider the interests of all 325 Band Class members as against the risks and benefits of having this class action proceed to Trial.”
This has been a long-standing class proceeding, since 2012. Justice McDonald also stated that, “The Settlement Agreement provides certainty, recovery, and closure for the Band Class members. These results could not be guaranteed if the litigation were to proceed to trial.” For that we are grateful and for the outcome of the proposed settlement.
Significance of the Band Class Reparations:
- This is one of the top three largest class action settlements in Canadian history; a $2.8 Billion Dollar Settlement.
- First successful lawsuit that addresses the harms caused by residential schools to First Nations as collectives.
- First settlement to address damages for the destruction of language and culture.
- Unique structure that involves a 20 year trust each of the 325 FN will receive $200,000 for planning, $325,000 kickstart funds and other provisions inside the terms of reference.
The settlement is based on Four Pillars which aim to reverse the collective harms caused by Residential Schools:
- Revival and protection of Indigenous languages;
- Revival and protection of Indigenous cultures;
- Protection and promotion of heritage; and
- Wellness for Indigenous communities and their members.
This settlement gives us the tools necessary to take control of our own journey of healing and revitalization of languages and culture and will leave a generational legacy and puts us in charge of our own healing.
We look forward to in-depth dialogue and working together for real change and creating a lasting legacy with our people and for our future generations.
On behalf of council, we want to acknowledge and honor all those who have been on this journey for our people, our survivors, and express much gratitude and look forward to honoring and working with all of you.