Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Court Urged to Solve 'Mystery' of Hidden Indian Residential School Documents

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Court Urged to Solve 'Mystery' of Hidden Indian Residential School Documents

Article excerpt

Court urged to probe hidden Indian school docs

--

TORONTO - The courts must clear up the mystery of why the federal government withheld thousands of relevant documents from survivors who sought compensation for their horrific abuse at a notorious Indian residential school, a judge was told Friday.

In calling for a wide-ranging investigation into the non-disclosure, lawyer Michael Swinwood said one of the plaintiffs in the case was retraumatized by the initial denial of her compensation claim.

"There's something amiss in relation to the non-production of these documents," Swinwood told Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell. "The court needs to know why is it that we're in this situation."

Two survivors of St. Anne's residential school in Fort Albany, Ont., are trying to persuade Perell to order the probe into the documents that flowed from a lengthy criminal investigation into problems at the school. The documents record details of the sexual and physical abuse of about 1,000 children who attended the school.

The settlement of a class action related to all residential schools in Canada established the independent adjudication process to hear compensation claims. One of the St. Anne's survivors, K-10106, hired a law firm to represent her.

What she didn't know, court heard, was that the firm had previously acted for the Roman Catholic Church -- essentially putting it in a conflict of interest -- and that it knew of the documents that might have helped her case.

Her claim was denied on the basis there was no sexual abuse at St. Anne's.

"She was not believed that she suffered severe sexual abuse at St. Anne's and it was student on student abuse," Swinwood said. "She was devastated by that hearing."

While K-10106 later received compensation after a review, Swinwood told the full courtroom that the first hearing and the law firm's conduct was "severely traumatizing."

Swinwood said the decision was "somehow" taken by the government and two law firms to hide documents that would have helped K-10106 and other claimants. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.