Ile-a-la-Crosse Boarding School. Photo courtesy Facebook.
Survivors of the Ile-a-la-Crosse boarding school say their patience is running thin one year after the minister of Indigenous Affairs pledged to negotiate a settlement.
On September 8, 2016, Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett visited the northern community, pledging Ottawa’s desire to negotiate rather than litigate.
The Ile-a-la-Crosse school was not included in the residential school settlement because it was run by the church, rather than the government.
At last year’s meeting, Bennett pledged to work on negotiating a settlement.
However, since that time, nothing concrete has taken place and the process has been delayed by legal issues.
Survivor Jim Durocher says himself, along with other survivors, are beginning to feel discouraged.
“There is a lot of anxiety out there because folks are wondering where everything is at,” said Durocher. “I know (Bennett) is a busy lady, she has lots of files on her hands, but it has been a year now and we feel something should be moving soon.”
Former students have been fighting for more than 10 years for compensation. For Durocher, he feels they are running out of time.
“Our survivors are dying,” said Durocher. “Approximately 50 per cent of our survivors have died and they never did not receive anything or get an apology, and this government needs to work a bit faster.”
Durocher says he has sent a letter to the minister’s office, asking her to return to the community to ensure survivors that the negotiations will in fact take place.
He says he has yet to receive an official response.
The office of the minister of Indigenous Affairs has yet to provide comment.