“I’m so thankful for Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya inviting me to travel north, we have so many survivors, our group continues to grow everyday,” Garry McLean told CKLB listeners Tuesday morning. McLean is the lead paintiff who has lead the charge in getting a compensation package and apology from the Trudeau government for Day School survivors across Canada.
Indian Day Schools include all education institutions established or designated as such by the federal Department of Indian Affairs, in which Indigenous students of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis heritage were required to attend by law, and were funded in part by the federal government.
“Unlike Indian Residential Schools, students did not reside at Indian Day Schools,” explains McLean.
McLean is working with the award winning law firm Gowling WLG. From their clients, the confirm most cases, Indian Day Schools were also operated and maintained by religious groups including the Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Methodist and Presbyterian churches who followed the federal policy, “of removing the Indian from the child.”
“Students who attended these Day schools have reported suffering the same types of abuse that was reported during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” added Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya.
The class action for Day School Survivors was certified by the Federal Court by order on June 21, 2018. Survivors are urged to contact Gowling for more information, and are not financially obligated to speak with their lawyers or staff. All information is kept in strict confidence.
“We have Indigenous lawyers working on this, they made it less intimidating for me,” added McLean.
McLean was thanked for visiting the NWT by other leaders including Gwich’in Tribal Council President Bobbi-Jo Greenland Morgan.
“Mahsi Cho to Mr. McLean for being so brave to share his story and to take lead in the the law-suit, there are so many reasons to keep fighting and promote healing, and moving forward for our children and generations to come. There are many including some of my loved ones, who attended Indian Federal Day Schools,” said Greenland-Morgan in a social media post.
McLean says there is no strict deadline right now for survivors to follow, except to read up and see what is available to them through their First Nation, Metis Council or Inuit organization.