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Halifax Personal Injury Lawyer Blog Update

A discussion of the differences between wrongful death claims in Canada and the United States.

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John McKiggan’s Abuse Claims Blog Has Moved!

This Blog is now continued at  http://www.sexualabuseclaimsblog.com/

It’s a great Justia blog, built by the talented folks at Justia.com. It’s based on the Moveable Type platform and provides more features like:

  1. Custom design to match my firm website, www.apmlawyers.com .
  2. A built in search engine.
  3. Customized feeds to subscribe to the blog.
  4. The ability to subscribe to other blogs with a built-in newsreader.

Please take a look. You may also want to take a look at my new personal injury blog:  http://www.halifaxpersonalinjurylawyerblog.com/

Residential School Survivor Receives First Settlement Payment

The first compensation cheque in the largest abuse claims settlement in history was issued today.

An Alberta teacher who was forced to spend 10 years in one of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools was presented with her cheque by Assembly of First Nations Chief, Phil Fontaine. You can read more here.

The Residential Schools settlement is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history and, I believe, is the largest abuse claims settlement in the world. I posted details here.

Pastor Sexually Abused by Another Pastor: Proves Lessons of Sexual Abuse

Mike Lewis, Pastor of the New Life Center in Cedar Grove, released a statement confirming he was one of the boys whom Shrewsbury Church of God pastor Sandy Martin Cook is charged with sexually assaulting over a decade ago.

Cook is charged with three counts of sexual abuse by a person of trust and 44 counts of third-degree sexual assault.

“For 13 years I have hidden this secret in the deepest part of my being, never to let it out,” Lewis said in a public statement. “Over these past years I have shared this secret with no one. Not my wife, parents, family or leaders.”

Lewis accused Church of God leaders of ignoring reports of the abuse:

“The realization of the fact that this person’s sexual abuses were brought to the attention of other local Church of God pastors, as well as the State Overseer of the Church of God, and that it was swept under a rug and not reported to the authorities is simply appalling…

“I assumed that my abuse had been limited to me alone and that no one else was suffering what I suffered. My assumptions were wrong …

“I now know that I was not alone and I have a right & responsibility to speak up. I would have taken this secret to my grave, but when investigators approached me and asked the question . . . ‘Are you also a victim’, I could not lie.”

I thought this story was important because it confirms so many fundamental truths that I have seen time after time representing victims of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse by religious leaders is not just a Catholic problem .

The abuse claims that become public are just the tip of the iceberg

Church Leaders cover up allegations of sexual abuse.

Most important: SECRECY PROTECTS CHILD ABUSERS ; when predators’ names come out, other victims of the same perpetrator are  empowered to come forward.

If you are a victim of sexual abuse…tell someone. You are not alone.
 

Indian Residential Schools: A Brief History of the Largest Abuse Claim Settlement Ever

Between 1920 and 1996 the Canadian government engaged in a concerted effort to eliminate Native Canadian Aboriginal people through a process of forced assimilation.  Aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in Church run “Residential Schools” where they were prevented from speaking their own language and practising their spiritual beliefs, and horribly mistreated.

By 1995 former Residential School students across the country had filed dozens of individual civil claims for compensation for physical and sexual abuse they suffered in the schools.

In 1996 the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples described the Residential School Assimilation process:

“The removal of children from their homes and the denial of their identity through attacks on their language and spiritual beliefs were cruel. But these practices were compounded by the too frequent lack of basic care — the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, medical services and a healthful environment, and the failure to ensure that the children were safe from teachers and staff who abused them physically, sexually and emotionally. In educational terms, too, the schools — day and residential — failed dramatically, with participation rates and grade achievement levels lagging far behind those for non-Aboriginal students.”

Here’s the link to the full Royal Commission Report www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/ch/rcap/index_e.html

In 1996 I was retained by Nora Bernard to file a Representative Action on behalf of all of the former students of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia. The claim was the first of it’s kind in Canada to seek compensation for all former students of a Residential School and the first to seek compensation for loss of language and culture. Here’s the link to Arnold Pizzo McKiggan’s webpage for the Shubenacadie claims http://www.apmlawyers.com/irscu.htm

In 1997 my friend and colleage Russ Raikes filed the Cloud class action on behalf of all former students of the Mohawk Institute Residential School and their family members.

In 1998, facing more than a thousand claims from former Residential School students, Canada issued a “Statement of Reconciliation” apologizing for the “tragedy” of the Residential Schools.

In 2000 the number of claims filed against Canada had topped 6,000. 

In 2002 more than 8,000 abuse claims had been filed against Canada. Thompson Rogers filed a National Class Action on behalf of Charles Baxter and Elijah Baxter seeking compensation for all former Indian Residential School students in Canada, and their family members. The Shubenacadie survivors joined the Baxter National Class Action.

By 2004 Canada was facing more than 12,000 Residential School abuse claims. In December 2004 the Ontario Court of Appeal certified the Cloud class action.

In 2005 the Supreme Court of Canada denied Canada’s request for leave to appeal the Cloud decision. In May 2005 Canada appointed former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Frank Iacobucci to negotiate a “lasting resolution” to the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. Here’s the full text of the announcement http://www.irsr-rqpi.gc.ca/english/news_30_05_05.html

I am proud to have participated in the negotiations with Canada on behalf of the Shubenacadie Survivors as part of the Baxter class action’s negotiating team. Other stakeholders included the Assembly of First Nations, representatives for former students, and Religious organizations that ran the schools. After six months of negotiations the parties reached an Agreement in Principle to compensate former Residential School students and their families.

The settlement includes an immediate fund of 1.9 Billion dollars to compensate all former Residential School students, estimated to be as many as 80,000 people. The settlement also requires Canada to fund an ongoing “Individual Assessment Process” to provide additional compensation for former students who suffered serious physical abuse and sexual abuse. The IAP claims are estimated to require further payments of 3 Billion dollars to Residential School abuse survivors over the next five years. 

So there it is. 80,000 potential claimants. Up to 5 Billion dollars in compensation. The largest abuse claim settlement ever.  But for those children who suffered through Canada’s misguided attempts at assimilation, and the generations that have felt the ripple effects of the harm caused by the schools, it is just the first step in a long process of healing and reconciliation.


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