The move, set to be announced Tuesday, means some 240 former students will have their cases revisited outside the process set up under residential school settlement more than 10 years ago.
In January, however, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice ruled that compensation claims that have already been closed can’t be reopened if new evidence comes to light.
That ruling details how an adjudicator at the IAP had underscored “systemic prejudice” against claimants of student-on-student whose cases are closed before all evidence is available to the panel. It outlines a claim from an unnamed former student whose request to re-open a compensation claim for student-on-student abuse was denied in 2014 because of failure to prove “the requisite staff knowledge” that abuse was going on. Another compensation claim was blocked from being reviewed because, while an adjudicator determined that student-on-student abuse occurred on school premises, the claimant couldn’t prove whether staff knew or should have known about the abuse.
Sen. Murray Sinclair, the former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that examined the impact of Canada’s residential school system, has said student-on-student abuse remains a taboo subject in some communities. He told that The Canadian Press last year that, “many people didn't want to talk to (the commission) about student-on-student abuse because they were often still living in the community with their abuser.”
More than 150,000 Indigenous children attended residential schools from the late 19th century until the last one closed in 1996. Children were taken from their parents and home communities as part of a long-standing government effort to extinguish Indigenous languages and cultures that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission deemed “cultural genocide.”
An unknown number of students — estimated to be in the thousands — died while attending the schools, and thousands experienced physical and sexual abuse, according to the commission.