Thousands of former Indian Day School students are expected to file for compensation over the next two and a half years. The application process started Monday.
Yet as the paperwork begins to be filled, the Saskatchewan Law Society is advising on what the legal profession can do to assist claimants.
As part of the settlement major Toronto law-firm Gowling has negotiated a payment for legal services.
This is important as claimants will not have to pay.
“Gowling has just been paid a sum of money upfront on the understanding and on the agreement that they will provide free legal representation to any claimant,” said Valerie Payne, Director of Professional Responsibility for the Law Society.
Payne said that if a claimant uses Gowling for legal help, their lawyers should be able to assist.
Yet if a claimant goes with separate legal representation, Payne explains any legal fees charged must first be approved by the federal court.
In 2017, the Law Society was asked to investigate potential gouging by lawyers who represented clients in the Residential School Independent Assessment Process.
This is where a claimant was trying to prove that they suffered extreme abuses at the government-funded schools and required additional compensation.
As part of the settlement, lawyers were entitled to 15 percent of the award, but in extenuating circumstances be granted an additional 15 percent.
Concern was raised that some lawyers were routinely asking for the additional fee, where it may not have been warranted.
Since the operation of Indian Day Schools in the 1920’s, an estimated 200,000 children attended.
Over 90 schools in Saskatchewan are eligible. Compensation ranges from $10,000 to $200,000.
(PHOTO: New Cote Indian Day School (Kamsack, SK), Sept. 1958. Photo courtesy www2.uregina.ca.)