Media Centre

Inuit Organization Lawsuits Protect Inuit Voice in Residential School Negotiations

NR 05-35 COO ENG Residential Schools.doc

(November 4, 2005 Iqaluit, Nunavut) – Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., (NTI) Inuvialuit Regional Corporation (IRC) and Makivik Corporation today responded to inaccurate comments made by Alberta lawyer Steven Cooper in a Nov. 4, 2005 newspaper article concerning lawsuits launched against the Government of Canada on behalf of Inuit and Inuvialuit residential school students.

The information in the article was based on data provided by Mr. Cooper, who currently represents a small number of Inuit and Inuvialuit pursuing individual lawsuits claiming damages for their residential school experience. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 Inuit and Inuvialuit students attended residential schools. Mr. Cooper claims to represent 350 of those students.

Regrettably, none of the Inuit or Inuvialuit organizations named in the article were approached for comment prior to the publication of the article. The information apparently provided by Mr. Cooper is inaccurate, misleading and defamatory. Mr. Cooper wishes to represent additional clients on a contingency basis, which means legal fees may be recovered as a percentage of the amount recovered by the Inuit/Inuvialuit beneficiaries.

I was very surprised when I read Mr. Cooper’s comments in the newspaper today. The lawsuits we are pursuing are in the best interests of Inuit and Inuvialuit, said NTI President Paul Kaludjak.

In May 2005, The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) signed a political accord with the Government of Canada to resolve the First Nations residential school legacy. Former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci was appointed by the government as its representative to negotiate an appropriate form of compensation.

Initially, NTI, IRC and Makivik Corp. were not included in the process. As a result, many Inuit and Inuvialuit residential school students were left out of the process and many of their schools were not recognized as eligible institutions.

To ensure the interests of all Inuit and Inuvialuit residential school students in Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Qu