Tsartlip Indian Day School survivor says federal settlement process ‘retraumatizing’

Tsartlip Indian Day School survivor says federal settlement process 'retraumatizing'

A Vancouver Island day school survivor says the $1.47 billion federal settlement for fellow survivors isn’t being handed out, with some claimants waiting years, not for their money, but even for a response.

“People haven’t still even gotten a reply,” said Angel Sampson.

Though called Tsartlip Indian Day School, Sampson says the students lived through a nightmare. “I was absolutely brutalized in this school,” she added.

While others blocked it out, Sampson recalls “everything.” She remembers a beating at the hands of a principal so bad it nearly killed her and how a nun taught her five- and six-year-old peers to rape her on a regular basis.

“We didn’t want our parents to go to jail, so we just didn’t talk,” said Sampson.

Sampson found her voice later in life. She was one of six plaintiffs named in a landmark residential and day school civil case that was settled in 2019.

Survivors had to fill out a form and provide proof they attended residential or day school to receive their settlement of $10,000 to $200,000, based on the abuse they endured and their ability to recount and relive it.

“I thought, wow. Four years of brutal beatings, and this is it?” said Sampson. “Some of them couldn’t begin to remember everything, so they settled for the least amount.”

The application process was open for three years between January 2020 and 2023 during the pandemic, which complicated and delayed evidence gathering for elders.

“We couldn’t go and get documentation about our report cards or picture about anything that would provide where we went to school,” said Sampson.

The feds refused to extend the deadline, and there’s no opportunity to reapply.

CHEK News contacted Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, but they were unable to meet our deadline.

After the case wrapped, Sampson became a beacon for survivors trying to navigate the application process. She says some survivors she’s working with are waiting years for any remuneration or even a response from Deloitte, the firm appointed to administer the settlement.

Deloitte didn’t respond to CHEK News’ request for comment.

Sampson says the settlement is set up to be retraumatizing.

“I hate to think that Canada is just waiting for people to die so they don’t have to pay out so much money,” said Sampson.

She’s calling on Deloitte to work faster to distribute the funds fairly and for the federal government to reopen the settlement funds to applicants, considering how COVID complicated and delayed the process.

Reliving and remembering takes time, something Sampson says survivors shouldn’t be bound by.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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