All claims for compensation by survivors of Indian Residential Schools must be submitted by September 19, 2012. Hopefully all Metis, Inuit, Innu and First Nation communities have made their citizens aware of this important deadline and have assisted them in finding the help they need to submit a claim under the Residential School class action settlement agreement.

Act now if you have a claim
If you or someone you know was a Residential Indian School survivor you must file by September 19, 2012. Since it takes time to complete a claim you must act now. To file a claim you will need to fill out a claim form and submit it to the Independent Assessment Process. All information is to be treated confidentially.

Remember that anyone who died after May 30, 2005 still has a claim that their families can advance on their behalf. Unfortunately anyone who died before May 30, 2005 no longer has a claim.

Legal Fees are paid by Government so hire a lawyer
It is possible to file your own claim form, but since the Federal Government will pay legal fees it is best to hire a lawyer to assist. If you have a lawyer you should ensure that your claim has been filed or will be filed by September 19, 2012.

Two Types of Compensation
Remember that there are two different types of compensation: Common Experience Payments and Individual Assessment Payments. Most people already received Common Experience Payments which everyone who attended a Residential school was entitled to whether they were physically, sexually or emotionally abused or not.

Even if you received a Common Experience Payment you can still receive an Individual Assessment Payments. These payments are for people who suffered abuse while at a Residential school. These claims will be assessed by an independent adjudicator in a private hearing.

September 19, 2012 deadline for both types of payments
The deadline for filing a claim for a Common Experience payment has passed. However, it’s still not to late. Claims are being accepted until September 19, 2012. The catch is that you will have to have a good reason for not filing sooner. Speak to a lawyer about the reasons that you haven’t filed your claim yet. But act quickly.

The deadline for submitting an Individual Assessment claim is also September 19, 2012. So act quickly.

After September 19, 2012 anyone who has not filed a claim will lose their right to compensation.

If in doubt speak to a lawyer
Stories of harsh beatings, sexual assault and mental torture are plentiful. If any of these happened to you then you should make sure your claim is submitted. However, you can get compensation for lesser forms of abuse as well: sexual touching, kissing, being made to watch sexual acts, being bullied, strapped, beaten, kicked, confined, yelled at, intimidated, ridiculed, made fun of etc. If you don’t know if you were abused or not speak to a lawyer to see if you have a claim.

Get emotional support
It’s hard to re-live past memories of horrible things that have happened. Often this can lead to emotional upset as victims relive the trauma. There is help available and you don’t need to be alone when completing forms and dealing with lawyers. Most lawyers are sensitive to the terrible feelings that victims experience when telling their stories. There is free counseling available from the Residential Schools Settlement counseling hotline 1-866-925-4419.

Remember the deadline is September 19, 2012. Act now.

Brian Hebert

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