‘Talks have not broken off’
Two different lawyers involved in the Labrador residential schools class-action lawsuit are downplaying reports that negotiations with the federal government have hit a snag.
In a brief emailed statement, St. John’s lawyer Ches Crosbie said “significant progress occurred over the weekend” on the case.
That seems to run contrary to a story by the CBC that quoted a lawyer saying things were not going well, and negotiations had stopped.
The Labrador residential schools lawsuit has been dragging through the court system for years.
Aboriginal Labrador survivors of residential schools were left out of a national apology and settlement agreement in 2008 by then-prime minister Stephen Harper.
The subsequent Truth and Reconciliations Commission specifically recommended that the government settle with outstanding groups such as the Labrador students to heal old wounds.
However, settlement negotiations last summer went nowhere, and the case went to trial — the first time survivors of the schools had to recount their stories in open court.
Justice Robert Stack heard stories of physical, sexual and emotional abuse from a parade of survivors — outright examples of violence against children, and sexual violation by school staff.
Following the federal election in October, the trial continued to proceed for a few months before an announcement in February that things were being suspended to give the two sides time for settlement negotiations.
After a month, the plaintiffs extended the postponement.
At the time, Crosbie said he was “confident that this postponement will position the parties for resolution of the case.”
Steve Cooper, another lawyer representing the residential schools survivors, also said good progress was made in negotiations over the weekend.
“The talks have not broken off,” Cooper said in an email.
“The date of our next meeting will depend on sufficient progress being made in advance of the courts schedule for recommencement of the trial if necessary.”
The Department if Aboriginal and Northern Affairs did not respond to a request for comment.