Photo: The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 1:05 p.m.

Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc says the $2.8-billion settlement for residential school survivors is a “good start” in helping First Nations restore their languages and culture.

At a Saturday morning news conference in Vancouver, Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller said the government signed the deal with plaintiffs representing 325 nations that opted into the Gottfriedson Band suit.

“While settlements that are being announced like these today do not erase or make up for the past … what it can do is help address the collective harm caused by Canada’s past — a deeply colonial one — in the loss of language, the loss of culture and the loss of heritage,” said Miller.

Former Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc chief Shane Gottfriedson and former shíshálh chief Garry Feschuk launched the suit more than a decade ago seeking justice for day scholars who were abused while attending the schools but who were ineligible for the 2006 settlement for full-time students.

The lawsuit originally involved three classes of complainants, but in 2021 all parties agreed to concentrate initial settlement efforts on survivors and their descendants to ensure they’d receive compensation during their lifetimes.

“Today we are representing 325 Indigenous nations across Canada and have developed a settlement plan to allow for the nations to work towards the four pillars,” said Gottfriedson.

“This settlement that allows our Indigenous nations to control this process … we will manage and distribute the funds, we will provide it to all 325 nations in a fair and objective manner.”

Saturday’s announcement marked the settlement for the band class of plaintiffs, which Miller called “unfinished business” from the 2021 settlement.

Miller said the settlement will be guided by four pillars: the revival and protection of Indigenous language; the revival and protection of Indigenous culture; the protection and promotion of heritage and the wellness of Indigenous communities and their members.

“Canada spent over 100 years trying to destroy our languages and cultures through Residential Schools,” said Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc’s Casimir in a statement.

“Canada did not succeed, but it did cause profound damage. It is going to take incredible efforts by our Nations to restore our languages and culture – this settlement gives Nations the resources and tools needed to make a good start.”

It marks the first time Canada is compensating bands and communities as a collective for harms related to residential schools, he said.

“Reconciliation isn’t free, this is a lot of money,” Miller said. “Is it enough? I think only time will tell, but we know there’s a heck of a lot more to do.”

Miller said the $2.8 billion for members of the band class will be put in an independent, not-for-profit trust, adding more terms of the settlement will be released in the next month.

Individual nations will decide which of the four pillars to focus on and will develop ten-year implementation plans.

A settlement approval will take place between Feb. 27 and March 1 before a federal court, followed by an appeal period before the funds are transferred to the trust.

ORIGINAL: 11:30 a.m.

A lawsuit over the harm caused by residential schools that was launched in part by a former Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc chief more than a decade ago has resulted in a $2.8-billion settlement with the federal government.

Crown-Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller says it’s come to a $2.8-billion agreement to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc and shíshálh first nations, related to the collective harms caused by residential schools.

Miller says the government signed the deal with plaintiffs representing 325 members of the Gottfriedson Band that opted into the suit.

The lawsuit originally involved three classes of complainants and focused on harms suffered by students who attended the schools only during the day, but in 2021 all parties agreed to concentrate initial settlement efforts on survivors and their descendants to ensure they’d receive compensation in their lifetimes.

Today’s announcement marks the settlement for the band class of plaintiffs.

Former shíshálh chief Garry Feschuk and former Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc chief Shane Gottfriedson began the lawsuit more than a decade ago seeking justice for day scholars abused while at the schools but who were ineligible for the 2006 settlement for full-time students.

Miller says the $2.8 billion for members of the band class will be put in an independent, not-for-profit trust, adding more terms of the settlement will be released in the next month.

This content was originally published here.