“Unofficial” residential school forms that were distributed by Regina lawyer Tony Merchant to many residential school survivors in a class-action lawsuit to settle the issue of past abuse are being rejected, according to the Indian Residential School Resolution Department.
“This was done without the permission of the official court administrator or the government of Canada,” a background document on the department’s website says.
But Merchant claims that this is another example of the government dragging their feet. The Department announced that survivors have to wait until September 19 for the official applications.
Tens of thousands of former students suffered physical, sexual or emotional abuse at the schools, which were typically run by the church groups with full support of the federal government.
The 70,000-plus surviving former students will receive a “common experience” payment, averaging about $28,000 each.
The government says any unofficial forms that are sent in will be returned in the mail, but Merchant cited the health of his clients, some of which are at an advanced age, as reason to fast track payments.