Île-à-la-Crosse survivors gather for the first time to discuss lawsuit and heal

Métis Nation Saskatchewan organized a gathering in Saskatoon of the Île-à-la-Crosse residential school survivors.

The survivors are still fighting to have their traumatic experiences recognized and possibly compensated. It is the first time all the survivors came together.

The gathering will run for three days and will allow survivors to share their stories, engage in discussion and get an explanation of the implications of the class action lawsuit filed on their behalf.

The Île-à-la-Crosse residential school was one of the oldest residential schools in Canada, operating between 1860 and 1976. About 1,500 students, predominantly Métis children from across Northern Saskatchewan, attended the school.

Read more: Star Blanket Cree Nation search of former residential school reveals over 2,000 ‘anomalies’

The Île-à-la-Crosse residential school was run by the provincial government, so it did not qualify for the Indian Residential School Settlement in 2007. That settlement was with the federal government.

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The survivors have been fighting to have their trauma recognized ever since and a class action lawsuit has been filed to recognize and compensate the survivors.

Duane Favel, mayor of Île-à-la-Crosse and plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, said he was disappointed with how things were going.

“I’m extremely disappointed that we still at this day and age haven’t been able to bring the governments to the table to begin the dialogue about a negotiated settlement for the Île-à-la-Crosse survivors. It is disappointing for the survivors.”

Vice-president of Metis Nation, Michelle LeClair, said the lawsuit is to demand recognition.

Click to play video: 'Metis Nation Saskatchewan vice-president to discuss Île-à-la-Crosse ground scan with survivors'

Metis Nation Saskatchewan vice-president to discuss Île-à-la-Crosse ground scan with survivors

“We filed a lawsuit against both the federal and provincial governments to put pressure to recognize one of the oldest residential schools in Canada. The goal is to be added to the residential school list and to have survivors compensated. Just like happened with the settlement for the Indian residential schools,” LeClair said.

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The federal government and Métis Nation have agreed to come to the table to resolve the matter.

“But the provincial government won’t come to the table,” LeClair said, “and the excuse is that there is litigation, but there is a lawsuit both against the provincial and the federal government.”

Global News has reached out to the provincial government of Saskatchewan for comment.

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