Free legal support sessions for survivors and family members seeking compensation for abuse suffered in the Indian Day School system will be offered in Iqaluit and Rankin Inlet.
The compensation is part of a 2019 settlement from a class action lawsuit against the federal government over mistreatment of residents in the system.
An estimated 140,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit are entitled to it for having experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse in the schools from the late 1800s until 2000, according to a Law Society of Nunavut news release.
It worked with Tukisigiarvik Society and Nunavut Legal Aid to organize the sessions after survivors and families reported having trouble figuring out if they were eligible for compensation and how to apply, said law society president Nalini Vaddapalli.
“I would just encourage anyone who is unsure, needs some guidance, just to reach out to us so we can provide information and give them a chance to file a claim if they’re eligible,” she said.
With a July 13 deadline to apply, Vaddapalli said she wants to ensure people can have their questions answered so they get the compensation they are entitled to.
In-person sessions are scheduled for Iqaluit on April 12 and May 14 from 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Tukisigiarvik Society office.
There will also be a session in Rankin Inlet in early May, with date and location to be determined. Nunavut residents from other communities can get support over the phone at 867-222-5345.
Vaddapalli said the sessions will be held to answer questions, with services in English and Inuktitut.
“There was a significant gap with respect to the support that was being offered through the claim council,” she said.
“We can provide that direct support to family members … just filling in that important gap that we’re aware of in our territory.”
In addition to survivors being eligible for compensation, there are a few scenarios for which their families may claim compensation on their behalf, Vaddapalli said.
If a survivor has died, with or without a will, their family may receive compensation.
For survivors who are living but unwell or unable to apply for compensation on their own, a power of attorney may go through the processes on their behalf.
“These sessions are open to all family members or friends of a family member who would like to submit a claim, and we will provide free legal support to assist them in getting the paperwork altogether,” Vaddapalli said.
“Once the paperwork has been gathered … the lawyers will take over the file and take the appropriate steps.”