'Opt Out' Period Ends in Canada's Indian Residential Schools Settlement

    OTTAWA, Ontario, Aug. 21 /CNW/ -- The "opt out" phase of a national
notification programme in the Indian residential schools settlement has been
completed. The postmark deadline for an opt out request was yesterday, August
20, 2007. As of now a total of 201 opt out forms from former students have
been received and logged. In the coming days any additional opt out forms
received which were postmarked prior to the deadline will be tallied and
verified. According to the settlement agreement, as long as the total number
of former students opting out is less than 5,000, the settlement will go
forward. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it is expected that claim forms
will be available by approximately September 20, 2007. Former students who
requested a claim form will have one mailed to them at that time.
    Since late March of this year, notices have been distributed, published,
mailed, and broadcast throughout Canada, on behalf of Courts across Canada,
alerting approximately 80,000 former residential school students as well as
their families that they had until August 20, 2007 to decide whether to stay
in the settlement or remove themselves (opt out) from it. A massive community
outreach effort also saw coordinators informing former students and families
in person across Canada.
    The opt out notification was a continuation of a notification programme
that began in June of 2006, when former students and their families learned
how to give their views about the fairness of the settlement. Then, nine
Courts across Canada held public hearings. All of the Courts approved the
settlement after those hearings. The opt out period formally began immediately
following a Court hearing on March 22, 2007, and notices were placed on the
official Court website http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca .
    The end of the opt out period means that the former students who stayed
in the settlement may make a claim for a payment, and are advised to request a
claim form if they have not done so already. Former students -- and family
members -- who stayed in the settlement will never again be able to sue the
Government of Canada, the Churches who joined in the settlement, or any other
defendant in the class actions, over residential schools. Former students who
opted out of the settlement will not get any payment from the settlement.
Family members who were not students do not qualify for payments.

    The settlement provides:

    1) At least $1.9 billion for "common experience" payments to former
students who lived at one of the schools. Payments will be $10,000 for the
first school year (or part of that first school year), plus $3,000 for each
school year (or part of a school year) after that. Elders that received an
advance payment must also submit a claim form for a common experience payment.
    2) A process to allow those who suffered sexual or serious physical
abuses, or other abuses that caused serious psychological effects, to get
between $5,000 and $275,000 each. Those students could get more money if they
also show a loss of income.
    3) Programmes for former students and their families for healing, truth,
reconciliation, and commemoration of the residential schools and the abuses
suffered: $125 million to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation; $60 million to
research, document, and preserve the experiences of the survivors; and $20
million for national and community commemorative projects.
    To request a claim form for a common experience payment, former students
may visit http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca , call 1-866-879-4913, or
write to Residential Schools, Suite 3-505, 133 Weber St. North, Waterloo,
Ontario N2J 3G9.

For further information:

For further information: Randy Bennett, Court Counsel, +1-416-869-3538
Web Site: http://www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca

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