Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 22, 2004
Native leaders decry government appeal of residential case
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations said he has told the federal government that the AFN does not want it to appeal a recent residential school ruling.
The government announced it is appealing to the Supreme Court of Canada a B.C. court ruling that said the government is solely responsible for liability arising from abuses in Indian residential schools.
Said Fontaine, "If they appeal, the end result will be to inflict more pain and suffering on the elderly and sick among the survivors.
"We look at the decision in the British Columbia Court of appeal as decisive and in favour of the surviving claimants," Fontaine added.
"It makes good sense for us - if the government is indeed committed to change and renewal and setting aside the old way of doing business - that, in this case, it not appeal so that we can ensure that there is fair compensation to residential school survivors."
Churches that operated the residential schools also oppose the government's decision to appeal the ruling saying it will prolong the uncertainty for former residential school students who are seeking compensation.
Fontaine made his comments when he, along with Clem Chartier, president of the Metis National Council, and Inuit leader Jose Kusugak, met with Prime Minister Paul Martin March 11 to discuss the government's aboriginal agenda. Also at the meeting was Denis Coderre, minister responsible for the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution.