Wapekeka SOS Conference - Survivors of Suicide
The 12th Annual SOS Conference in Wapekeka starts tomorrow at 9:00 am until Sunday Night, August 22. The communities participating will be travelling today and next Monday. For the first time this year, Lac Seul will be joining us and we are excited about their participation.
For Tuesday, Opening Ceremonies will be held starting 9:00 am and guest speakers will begin their speechs about 10:00 am. This will be broadcast LIVE on Wawatay plus evening services will be broadcast througout the week.
Lt. Governor General of Ontario will highlight tomorrow's events plus NAN Grand Chief and his wife will be ours special guests. This will give them an opportunity to visit and talk with people from surrounding areas.
We apologize we were unable to accommodate some communities as they submitted names very late. This includes North Spirit, Kingfisher, Bearskin, and another load from KI.
News stories today highlight a resolution from the Canadian Bar Association encouraging the Government of Canada to recognize and compensate all residential school survivors. See below for the Winnipeg Free Press coverage of this story ...
Ante Raised On Residential Schools: Pay Natives for Culture and Language Damage Lawyers Say
By Helen FalldingWinnipeg Free Press - August 16, 2004 - A3
Canada's lawyers are calling on Ottawa to compensate all aboriginal people who attended residential schools that damaged their language and culture.
If that advice is followed, at least a thousand Manitobans could be eligible for perhaps tens of millions of dollars between them.
The Canadian Bar Association unanimously passed a resolution yesterday at its annual meeting at the Winnipeg Convention Centre urging "automatic base compensation for loss of language and culture and for minor physical and sexual abuse." A $1.7-billion federal dispute-resolution program announced late last year offers compensation only to residential school survivors who can prove severe physical or sexual abuse.
Winnipeg lawyer Jeffrey Harris, who proposed the resolution on behalf of the bar association's aboriginal law section, said in an interview the new dispute process is stalled.
Many people don't want to participate in a program that does not recognize the devastation caused by a formal government policy of forcing aboriginal children to forget their language and renounce their culture, he said.
Harris compared survivors of residential schools to Japanese Canadians interned during the Second World War, who had to prove no more than relocation to be offered $21,000 compensation.
The bar association chose not to recommend a dollar figure for residential school compensation.
About 12,000 people across Canada have made claims alleging residential school abuse, but many more might apply if cultural losses were recognized. It has been estimated that about 90,000 aboriginals attended residential schools.
Many who attended residential schools have reported a lifetime of struggle with alcohol, violence and confusion over who they are.
Few aboriginal families in Manitoba are untouched by the issue after generations of children were ripped from their families and forced to attend the schools, which were run by the government and churches. The schools operated across Canada from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Harris said the bar association's 38,000 members are taken very seriously by federal justice ministers.
"When we speak, government listens." Harris does not represent any residential school claimants in his own practice and said he will make a point of not doing so to prevent a conflict of interest.
The federal government has limited payments to situations such as rape and beatings where the courts have already granted compensation to residential school survivors. But another lawyer supporting the resolution yesterday said the courts have not ruled that cultural losses are not worthy of compensation.
Harris said he will meet with deputy justice minister Mario Dion on Tuesday to discuss the resolution.
The bar association meeting continues today with resolutions on privacy rights and sexual relations between lawyers and clients.
Lawyers want payments for all aboriginals who went to residential schools
by Steve Lambert Canadian Press - August 16, 2004
WINNIPEG (CP) - The Canadian Bar Association is urging the federal government to compensate every one of the 90,000 aboriginals who went through the residential school system.
The lawyers' group unanimously passed a resolution Saturday that calls on the government to offer "automatic base compensation for loss of language and culture . . for all claimants proving attendance in a residential school, with provision for additional compensation in cases of serious physical and sexual abuse."
The compensation would help make up for the suffering of former residents who were removed from their homes and forbidden to speak their language, according to Jeff Harris, the Winnipeg lawyer who put forward the resolution.
"Justice requires that the Government of Canada acknowledge there was a policy to stamp out aboriginal language and culture, that this policy was all too successful," Harris told the CBA's annual conference.
Federal officials were not available for immediate comment. But Finance Minister Ralph Goodale has already indicated there could be compensation beyond what is already available.
"We are consulting further with all stakeholders to make sure that any remaining concerns and criticisms are addressed," Goodale said in a written statement last year, when he announced the creation of a new secretariat to help manage abuse compensation claims.
The residential schools were funded by Ottawa and run by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian Churches from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Lawsuits on behalf of more than 12,000 former residents have been filed, citing physical and sexual abuse.
By last year, Ottawa had paid out more than $37 million to settle roughly 550 cases out of court.
To deal with the huge volume of claims, the federal government set up an alternative dispute resolution process to fast-track settlements.
Harris said that process falls short because it only deals with physical and sexual abuse, not loss of culture.
The association did not address the costs associated with compensating all 90,000 aboriginals who attended residential schools.
The compensation system is one of several social issues on the bar association's conference agenda.
Another resolution called on the federal government to look at aboriginal representation on the Supreme Court of Canada.
While the resolution stopped short of saying a seat on the high court bench should be reserved for an aboriginal judge, it urged Ottawa to recognize "all three founding peoples of Canada" when appointing judges.
The resolution was set aside until the bar association's meeting next winter in Charlottetown.
"The profession should have time to consider it," said association president Bill Johnson.