Residential Schools Class Action

What Is The Labrador Residential Schools Class Action?

In 2006, the Government of Canada agreed to settle a nation-wide class action lawsuit with residential school survivors. Residential schools were used by the federal government as a tool of cultural assimilation and attendees experienced neglect and abuse. Canada committed to paying compensation and Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued an official apology.

However, residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador were not included in the settlement and apology. As a result, lawyer Ches Crosbie and law firms Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper AWOC and Koskie Minsky commenced a new class action on behalf of survivors who attended residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador after 1949, when Confederation with Canada occurred.

What Has Happened So Far?

  • The global settlement agreement was agreed on in 2006.
  • It was approved by the courts in 2006.
  • The settlement was implemented in 2007.
  • Prime Minister Harper apologized to residential school victims on behalf of Canadians on June 11, 2008.
  • Lawyers filed the Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools Class Action in 2007.
  • The Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools Class Action was certified by Justice Robert Fowler in June 2010.
  • The Court of Appeal upheld the certification order in December 2011.
  • Canada third partied the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in November 2012.
  • The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador third partied the Moravian Church, Moravian Union, and International Grenfell Association in February 2013.
  • Trial was scheduled to begin November 18, 2014. However, Canada and the third parties were unprepared for trial and requested delay.
  • On November 24, 2014 Justice Robert Stack decided that the common issues trial, including the third party claims, will recommence on September 28, 2015 for 12 weeks.
  • Mediation discussions took place on June 9 and 10, 2015 but did not result in a settlement agreement.
  • The case proceeded to trial on September 28, 2015.
  • The plaintiffs closed their case in February 2016 after four months of trial, and both sides asked the court for a break in trial to hold talks aimed at resolution.
  • The parties finally reached agreement in principle at the end of March, and the agreement was approved by the federal government in April.
  • Parties appeared in court on May 10, 2016 in St. John’s to schedule a hearing date for settlement approval.
  • The settlement approval hearing commenced September 27, 2016 in St. John’s.
  • Justice Stack approved the settlement and associated legal fees on September 28, 2016.

Class members will receive compensation related to the duration of their attendance at residential schools and the level of harm suffered. Class members can expect to receive compensation within a year of the settlement being approved.

If You’re A Class Member, Please See These Important Documents:


I have read the latest Statement of Claim over and over again and find so much relief in so doing. Paragraph 60 and the reference to the principles of fundamental justice is what I have been fighting for more than 13 years. Governments should never have been permitted to wreak such pain for so long. I am so grateful to you for your courage and the values that keep you fighting. They are what give meaning to our lives. Let us hope our broken hearts will find some peace with your success in the courts.
Phyllis Vineberg and Family