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FSIN speaks out for excluded survivors.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) Vice Chief Lyle Whitefish is speaking out on behalf of residential school survivors who are being excluded from receiving Common Experience Payments as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

Under the agreement, former residential school students are to receive lump sum payments of $10,000 for the first year or portion of a year they spent in residential school, and an additional $3,000 for each subsequent year or portion of a year.

What has Whitefish up in arms is the fact that, according to the terms of the settlement agreement, only former students of residential schools run by the federal government or one of the religious organizations involved directly in the settlement agreement, are eligible to receive Common Experience Payments.

A number of residential schools that operated in Saskatchewan are on the list of schools that are included in the settlement agreement. These include Beauval (Lac Laplonge), Crowstand, File Hills, Gordon's, Lebret (Qu'Appelle, Whitecalf, St. Paul's high school), Marieval (Cowessess, Crooked Lake), Muscowequan (Lestock, Touchwood), Prince Albert (Onion Lake, St. Alban's, All Saints, St. Barnabas, Lac La Ronge), Regina, Round Lake, St. Anthony's (Onion Lake, Sacred Heart), St. Phillip's, Sturgeon Landing and Thunderchild (Delmas, St. Henri). But many others, including those that were operated by the province, aren't part of the settlement agreement.

On Nov. 22, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada (IRSRC), the federal department co-ordinating the settlement agreement, posted recent decisions on its Web site regarding requests to add residential schools to the list.

According to Valerie Hache, media relations co-ordinator for IRSRC, as of Sept. 19, the department had received 2,834 individual requests to add 474 separate institutions to the list of approved residential schools. By the end of November, research had been completed on 325 of the institutions, and a decision was made to add two of the schools to the list.

Students attending Anahim Lake Dormitory in British Columbia between Sept. 1968 and June 1977 will now be eligible for Common Experience Payments, as will students who attended St. Paul's Hostel in the Yukon between September 1920 and June 1943.

In a media release, Whitefish spoke out on behalf of residential school survivors in Saskatchewan who have been unsuccessful in their attempts to have the schools they attended added to the list.

"Survivors who attended 26 different schools in Saskatchewan are discouraged with the process that has left them out. They attended schools that had the dynamics of a residential school--they were kept from their homes and families and suffered many abuses.

"These survivors are like any other residential school survivor already covered by the settlement, they feel they should be entitled to make a claim," he said, adding that all residential school survivors should be eligible to benefit from the settlement agreement, regardless of whether the school they attended was run by the federal government, a church or the provincial government.

According to Hache, the majority of the requests to have schools added to the settlement agreement that are being denied involve institutions that were run by the province, or a religious organization that isn't part of the settlement agreement process. The exclusion of these types of institutions is clearly set out in the agreement, Hache said.

"Because obviously, there are criteria for being defined as an Indian residential school through the settlement agreement, and this is for federally-run residential schools. The schools that were run provincially are not part of this agreement, and this was decided during the negotiations with all the parties. It's not just something that we came up with."

There is no deadline for submitting a request to add a school to the settlement agreement, so people can continue to apply, Hache said. "And there is an appeal process, too, so if the request was declined, they can go through an appeal."
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Title Annotation:Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations out for residential school students that suffered many abuses
Publication:Saskatechewan Sage
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 1, 2007
Words:641
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