Six Nations Elected Council is warning that unscrupulous lawyers are sending out emails claiming they can get Indian Day School survivors more money than they are eligible for under the federal settlement.
Elected Chief Mark Hill said some law firms are trying to take advantage of survivors saying they can get them more than just a $10,000 settlement after they’ve already received it, but under the terms of the settlement, that’s impossible.
“We’re putting the community on notice that other legal firms are also reaching out to individual message that they can assist them with this,” said Chief Hill.
Chief Hill said they’ll be holding community meetings in the near future to ensure people are aware of such attempts from shady lawyers.
Indian Day Schools were federally-run schools on reserves where Indigenous students faced rampant abuse. Day Schools were not included in the 2005 federal class-action residential school settlement.
After a years-long battle by a number of day school survivors, the federal government approved a class-action Indian Day School settlement in August 2019.
Cam Cameron, a partner at Gowling WLG, the law firm appointed to oversee the Indian Day School settlement, told a general council meeting last night that about 119,000 applications have been processed from survivors across the country.
The estimated class size of living Day School survivors across Canada is about 120,000 to 140,000 people.
“Claims are just trickling in at this point,” said Cameron. “The bulk of claims have already been filed.”
Of those, he said, about 72 per cent have already been paid and about 18 per cent of claimants received more compensation than they asked for.
“That doesn’t hit the social media but that’s a statistic that’s true,” said Cameron. “The inverse is also true. About 18 per cent of claimants that have been paid out have been leveled down.”
That means they’ve gotten less than the level the applied for. Survivors were awarded based on five levels of harm experienced at the schools. Level one provides $10,000 and level five, representing the most serious abuse, provides $250,000.
Cameron said applicants have the opportunity to ask for a reconsideration and are given 120 days to provide more information why they should be at level three instead of level one.
He said they can’t do much about law firms attempting to take advantage of survivors.
“Our role is not to police other lawyers. We brought that to the attention of the federal government. I don’t know what the federal government is doing. We don’t go after other lawyers and tell them not to do ‘XY or Z.’ But we do report it.”
The deadline to apply for an Indian Day School settlement is July 13, 2022.