Aboriginal Legal Aid in BC

Indian Residential Schools Settlement

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is an effort by the Canadian government to address the damage that Indian residential schools caused. Under the agreement, the government provided two types of payments to Indian residential school survivors: the Common Experience Payment and the Independent Assessment Process.

The information below may bring back painful memories. If you become upset, call the Indian Residential Schools 24-Hour National Crisis Line immediately at 1-866-925-4419 (no charge). The crisis line will help you get emotional and crisis services.

For more information on healing and support, see Who can help.

 

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Common Experience Payment

The deadline to apply to the Common Experience Payment has passed. If you attended an eligible Indian residential school (including the Mistassini Hostels in Québec), you may still have options. If you haven't already done so, talk to a lawyer to find out what your options are. You can find a lawyer through the settlement agreement list or the Lawyer Referral Service. Or call the Indian Residential School Survivor's Society at 1-800-721-0066 (no charge).

Any student who lived at an eligible school could apply for compensation called a Common Experience Payment.

For more information on the Common Experience Payment, see Service Canada's website. Or call 1-866-699-1742 (no charge). If you have difficulty with your hearing or speech, call 1-800-926-9105 (TTY, no charge).

Personal Credits

Indian residential school survivors who got a Common Experience Payment could apply for Personal Credits of up to $3,000. These credits can be used for a variety of educational purposes.

For more information, see the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Official Court website.

The Assembly of First Nations website has a number of resources that can help you, including videos, sample forms, and budget templates.

Find out more


Personal Credits Overview

Assembly of First Nations — Video — Personal Credits Overview


Independent Assessment Process

The deadline to apply to the Independent Assessment Process has passed. If you were seriously physically abused or sexually abused at an eligible Indian residential school (including the Mistassini Hostels in Québec), you may still have options. If you haven't already done so, talk to a lawyer to find out what your options are. You can find a lawyer through the settlement agreement list or the Lawyer Referral Service. Or call the Indian Residential School Survivor's Society at 1-800-721-0066 (no charge).

If you were seriously physically abused or sexually abused at an eligible school, you could apply to the Independent Assessment Process for a payment.

For more information on the Independent Assessment Process, see the Independent Assessment Process website. Or call Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's information line at 1-877-635-2648 (no charge), from 8am to 8pm (Eastern Standard Time).

The video below lets you know what to expect as you go through the Independent Assessment Process.

(Credit: Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat)

You may also find the related booklet, Telling Your Story: The Independent Assessment Process, helpful.

Get legal help

It's a very good idea to get a lawyer to help you with your application. You may be able to use the Lawyer Referral Service. This program lets you meet with a lawyer to discuss your situation.

Lawyer Referral Service

Greater Vancouver: call 604-687-3221
Outside Greater Vancouver: call 1-800-663-1919 (no charge)


What if I opted out of the settlement agreement?

If you opted out of the settlement agreement but you still want to take legal action against the person or people who assaulted or abused you, you have a couple of options through the civil or criminal justice system. For more information, see A Guide to the Indian Residential School Settlement.

You may also be able to get financial help through the Crime Victim Assistance Program.

Find out more

The Crime Victim Assistance Program

Crime Victim Assistance Program — Financial help and other benefits for victims of crime


Who can help?

Healing and support

Aboriginal Healing Foundation — Has links to resources

Crime Victim Assistance Program — Financial help and other benefits for victims of crime

First Nations Health Authority — Gives mental health and emotional support to Indian residential school survivors. Call 1-877-477-0775 ​(no charge)

Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program — A Health Canada program that gives mental health and emotional support services. Call 1-866-925-4419 (no charge)

Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society — Supports Indian residential school survivors. Call 1-800-721-0066 (no charge). For emotional assistance, call 1-800-925-4419 (no charge, 24 hours a day)

Intertribal Health Authority — Has wellness and mental health services for Indian residential school survivors

KUU-US Crisis Line Society — Crisis line dedicated to the Aboriginal community — Call 1-800-588-8717 (no charge; available 24/7)

Tsow-Tum Le Lum Society — Has programs that support survivors of trauma and Indian residential schools

VictimLink BC — Counselling, information, and referrals — Call 1-800-563-0808 (no charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Victims Info — An online resource for victims and witness of crime in BC

Find an advocate

BC211 — Free confidential referrals to help and information — Call 211

PovNet — Information about poverty issues and links to organizations that can help

BC Association of Friendship Centres — Find a friendship centre in your area

Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation — See their A Guide to Aboriginal Organizations and Services in British Columbia for organizations that can help

Legal help

Legal information

Aboriginal community legal workers — Give legal information and limited advice services

Legal information outreach workers — Give legal information and provide referrals


Legal advocacy and advice

Lawyer Referral Service — Find a lawyer to discuss your case

Native Courtworkers and Counselling Association of BC — Culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal people involved in the criminal justice system — Call 604-985-5355 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-877-811-1190 (no charge

Bella Coola Legal Advocacy Program — Free legal help — Bella Coola

UBC Indigenous Community Legal Clinic — Free legal help on various legal matters — 604-684-7334 (Greater Vancouver) or 1-888-684-7334 (call no charge)