The law firm Regina, Saskatchewan Lawyer, Tony Merchant, Q.C. — Merchant Law Group LLP — represented more than 7,000 survivors — about 50 per cent of known residential school survivors in Canada who were pursuing class actions against the Canadian federal government.  Following the publication of the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples report, survivors of residential schools gathered across the country for meetings attended by Tony Merchant, who became a “familiar figure” and welcomed thousands of survivors for collective action.  MLG`s lawyers received “nothing until a class action was concluded” in a judicial agreement that was motivated by the liquidation.  David Blott`s law firm in Calgary, Alberta, “processed nearly 4,600 residential school applications.”  In January 2015, the Attorney General`s Office of Canada launched an action in the Queen`s Court for Saskatchewan in Regina, Saskatchewan, on behalf of the Canadian federal government against the Regina Collection Group, Merchant Law Group of Saskatchewan. Tony Merchant, Q.C., who “is known as the king of class action in Canada” and the Merchant Law Group LLP had successfully represented about fifty per cent of all “known persons in Canada who pursued class actions against the Canadian federal government as survivors of residential schools.”  In November 2005, they were part of the negotiating teams that resulted in a multi-billion dollar national agreement with the Canadian government, which amounts to $1.9 billion in compensation for common experience payments and $3 billion in compensation for the Independent Assessment Process (IAP).  The proceedings against MLG 2015 were opened for the first time at Queen`s Court and referred to the Court of Appeal before being tried by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2018.     The Supreme Court of Canada`s march 15, 2018 decision dismissed MLG`s appeal of the most non-arbitrary fraud action , meaning that the Government of Canada can pursue its action for damages against the law firm.  The largest collective action in Canadian history to date, the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), recognized the damage done to Aboriginal peoples by residential schools in Canada and created a multi-billion euro fund to help former students recover. The IRSSA, which came into force in September 2007, consists of five main components: the Common Experience Payment, the Independent Assessment Process, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Commemoration and Health and Healing Services. On September 30, 2019, the names of 2,800 children who died in residential schools in Canada were released by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at a ceremony in Gatineau, Quebec (see Truth and Reconciliation Commission). The ceremony was the culmination of several years of archival research of government and religious books on Aboriginal children in 80 schools across the country, with records dating back to the 1890s. According to archivists, 1,600 children who died in residential schools remain unnamed and researchers continue to search records to find out their identities.
Did you know that? Historica Canada has compiled a map (see below) of all residential schools in Canada based on data from the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. As part of a larger Historica Canada project, the Residential Schools Awareness Program, the map contains the location, name, religious denomination, opening and closing dates, and all other names under which schools were known. The Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada was established in 2001 to manage and resolve the large number of abuse lawsuits filed by former students against the federal government, also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).