National Residential School Survivors' Society

National Residential School Survivors' Society

January 24, 2007 11:48 ET

National Residential School Survivor's Society: Legal or Moral Fees?

SAULT STE. MARIE, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 24, 2007) - As Survivors it is very distressing to hear that the legal issues may hold up the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement payment. In light of these findings it is somewhat disappointing and a hard pill to swallow that lawyers are willing to seize the centre of attention and delay the acknowledgement and payment for those who have waited their whole lives for this recognition. These issues enlighten us to the affects of colonial rule and the impositions which came from colonialism.

Understandably, the legal issues are a large part of this Agreement, although there are many people who have put forth an exuberant amount of effort towards this deal, without any acclaim and million dollar pay offs. The quarrel that Merchant Law Group has with the government should be no more than a shadow of the Agreement. The spirit and intent of this deal is being sullied by those that have had no harmful affects of this terrible legacy.

The Survivors and former students of Indian Residential School should be the principal focus. The Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement was created to acknowledge and attempt to repair the damage caused by the IRS Legacy. The payment to the lawyers should be an ancillary payment set aside from the rest of the deal.

Tony Merchant went on record to state, "If it weren't for us, not just our firm, but other lawyers, no First Nations would be getting a dime." To take it that much further, if it were not for the racist agenda of Indian Residential Schools we would not be in this mess today. The lawyers are not our saviors, they are the legal interpreters for this process, which is an extension of the imposition of culture and colonialism that injured, failed and insulted all First Nations, Inuit and Metis of this country. No one person from the Consortium of Lawyers, the Churches nor the Government should be taking credit for any part of this deal.

To stall the settlement is shameful and disheartening considering where we are coming from, where we are at and where we plan to be in the future with reconciliation. This behavior is nothing short of disgraceful, tasteless and without class. It is not enough that the lawyers will only get richer, but Survivors and former students of the IRS will be left to clean up the crumbs. The delay in the settlement as a result of the feud over legal fees is a delay in the long awaited acknowledgement to all remaining Survivors and is an ensuing delay to the relief of the pains caused by this tragic Legacy.


Ted Quewezance, Executive Director

National Residential School Survivors' Society

Contact Information

  • National Residential School Survivors' Society
    Ted Quewezance
    Executive Director