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The Legacy Fund

Canada’s steps toward addressing the intergenerational impacts of colonization and racism against Indigenous peoples — in other words, reconciliation — are just beginning, but some landmark settlements have been reached.

In 2009, Indian Day Schools Survivors began legal action against the Federal Government, seeking compensation for abuse and other damage from forced attendance at Indian Day Schools. In 2019, they entered into a $1.47B settlement, with $200 Million earmarked for the MDSSC and its Legacy Fund for Survivors, their children, and grandchildren. MDSSC’s unique cross-Canada engagement sessions aim to obtain input for the Legacy Fund’s implementation and administration from approximately 120,000 people.

The voices of Day School Survivors must remain central through this process — this is the commitment of MDSSC’s Board, as it is also their hope that MDSSC and the Legacy Fund will create enduring outcomes of the McLean Federal Indian Day Schools Class Action settlement and will be a major source of support for Survivors and their families.

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McLean Legacy Fund

Meet Our Board Members

The McLean Day Schools Settlement Corporation Legacy Fund is administered by a Board who are Day School Survivors and experts. The Board currently has three members and is planning to expand to seven members.

The current members are:

Elder Claudette Commanda

Photo Credit: Indspire

Elder Claudette Commanda

A professor, plaintiff and Survivor who has dedicated her life to promoting First Nations people, rights, history and culture.
Chief Roger Augustine

Chief Roger Augustine

The AFN Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, as well as a plaintiff and Survivor who has extensive experience in First Nations leadership and capacity building.
James “Jim” Igloliorte

James “Jim” Igloliorte

Labrador’s first Inuk Judge, winner of the 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award, and a dedicated and important legal voice for Aboriginal people.

“I know you may not know some of the damages that have happened, and for me, I forgive you for that, because for me without forgiveness things stay the same.”

— Garry McLean, Lead plaintiff in Indian Day School class action lawsuit

Garry McLean

The Legacy Fund derives its name from Garry McLean. Elder McLean was a member of the Lake Manitoba First Nation and represented approximately 200,000 Survivors as the lead plaintiff in the MDSSC case. Although he passed away weeks before the establishment of MDSSC, the settlement which bears his name is infused with his spirit.

Elder McLean was a band councillor, social worker, and civil servant. He was a fierce advocate for Indian Day School Survivors, as well as their families. The work of Garry McLean embodies strength, service to community, and the importance of justice, and the Legacy Fund seeks to continue this critical work.

About Day Schools

Approximately 200,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend federally operated Indian Day Schools, in every province and territory, from the mid-1800s until 2000. An often-overlooked part of Indigenous and Canadian history, Indian Day Schools resulted in the severing of cultural connections, including Indigenous languages, cultural practices, and ways of being, for hundreds of thousands of Indigenous children and families.

Government-sanctioned abuses led to a painful legacy that is still felt today due to the abuse, neglect, and negligible education at these schools.

MDSSC is hopeful that with Indigenous leadership and the perspectives of Day School Survivors, they will create positive pathways for healing, and help restore language, culture, wellness, commemoration, and truth telling.

FAQs

The McLean Day Schools Settlement Corporation (MDSSC) was established as part of the historic McLean Federal Indian Day Schools Class Action settlement, which endowed MDSSC with a $200 Million Legacy Fund for projects to support Survivors of federally-operated Indian Day Schools, and their families. MDSSC is currently managed by CEO Elder Claudette Commanda, who sits on MDSSC’s Board with AFN Regional Chief Roger Augustine and Dr. James Igloliorte. Read more about MDSSC’s Board here and about the Legacy Fund here.

Although they came from the same nationwide class action lawsuit settlement started by its lead plaintiff, Elder Garry McLean, MDSSC and the claims process (which is handled by Deloitte Canada) are separate. This means that MDSSC does not have information about any claim, including its content, status, or result, nor are we able to influence the claims process.

Our aim is to support Survivors and their families, and other initiatives associated with Day Schools, through the Legacy Fund, which will help develop projects to support language & culture, healing & wellness, commemoration, and truth telling.

No. Day Schools were schools where Indigenous children were sent during the day, but remained in their communities and lived with their families. These schools were neither included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, nor were they part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement of 2006. However, like Residential Schools, many students in Day Schools experienced abuse and had their cultural connections severed, including Indigenous languages, cultural practices, and ways of being.

The Legacy Fund was created to support four primary areas: language & culture, healing & wellness, commemoration, and truth telling. Our first step is to get direct input from Survivors, their families, and community stakeholders on how the Legacy Fund should be structured, implemented, and distributed to be responsive to their unique needs. As part of that process, we will be holding virtual, town hall-style engagement sessions to respectfully consult Survivors and their families. For those who may not be able to attend these engagement sessions, we will host other digital opportunities to receive as much feedback on the Legacy Fund’s implementation as possible.

Long after the compensation (i.e. claims) process is completed, our hope is that MDSSC and the Legacy Fund will create enduring outcomes of the McLean Federal Indian Day Schools Class Action settlement and will be a major source of support for Survivors and their families. We want the Legacy Fund to be as responsive as possible, truly meeting the needs and expectations of Survivors and their families, so we appreciate any input from those individuals, as well as their families.

We are reachable by email.

We are happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have regarding our operations, the Legacy Fund, and the outreach work we are currently engaging in.

Since Fall 2019, we have been hard at work developing the fundamental steps to establish MDSSC and the administration of the Legacy Fund, from setting up the corporation, to ensuring we had the proper financial and insurance supports in place. Despite major disruptions that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, we took swift steps to name our initial Board members and CEO, and to decide on investment strategies to preserve the Fund. This year, we have worked diligently to put together a framework for our outreach plan, ensuring that it is supportive, safe, and inclusive and are proud to announce that we will begin our outreach campaign soon!

Elder Claudette Commanda

Photo Credit: Indspire

ELDER CLAUDETTE COMMANDA

Professor Claudette Commanda is an Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation who has dedicated the last 35 years to promoting First Nations people, history, culture, and rights. At the University of Ottawa, she is the former chair of the Indigenous Education Council and a professor for the Institute of Women’s Studies; Faculties of Education and Law; and the Aboriginal Studies Program. She is also the Special Advisor on Reconciliation for the Dean, Faculty of Law.

In 2017, Claudette was the first Elder-in-Residence for the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, and the first person of a First Nation heritage appointed to the University’s Board of Governors. In March 2020, Claudette received the 2020 INDSPIRE Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.

She was inducted into the Common Law Honour Society, serving two terms on the Board of Governors for the First Nations University of Canada and three terms on the Kitigan Zibi band council, and she is CEO of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres. Claudette is a proud mother of four and grandmother of ten.

Chief Roger Augustine

CHIEF ROGER AUGUSTINE

Roger Augustine, a Mi’kmaq from New Brunswick, has been involved in Aboriginal and Canadian leadership for over 40 years, promoting collaboration, mutual respect, peace and friendship.

Mr. Augustine was Chief of Eel Ground First Nation from 1980 to 1996. As a community leader, his numerous accomplishments include signing the historic 1981 Declaration of Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and negotiating a $90 million partnership for eight New Brunswick First Nations communities in 1995. One of his greatest achievements is addressing addiction in his community through a curriculum for Eel Ground Federal School, receiving awards as Chairman of the National Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board.

He remains Chairman of the Rising Sun Treatment Centre at Eel Ground, and is Chairman for the Center of Indigenous Environmental Resources, a Commissioner for Indian Land Claims, an Assurance Group Member of Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development, and a member of the Indigenous Advisory Council with BMO.

Chief Augustine has received national recognition for his lifetime of service and leadership, including the Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), the National Achievement Medal from Société Nationale de lè Acadie (2018), and the Queen’s Meritorious Service Medal (2020).

James “Jim” Igloliorte

JAMES “JIM” IGLOLIORTE

James Igloliorte of Hopedale, Labrador is a retired Provincial Court judge. He and his wife, Linda Carter, started their careers as teachers on the West Coast of Newfoundland. Later, he was appointed as a lay magistrate, and, after completing law school, Dr. Igloliorte became Labrador’s circuit judge, a position he held for most of his career. He was a 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in Law and Justice, and retired from the bench in 2004.

A former Commissioner with the Royal Commission on Renewing and Strengthening Our Place in Canada, Dr. Igloliorte was also Newfoundland and Labrador’s Child and Youth Advocate and Commissioner of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission in Nunavut. Judge Igloliorte is currently serving as Chief Commissioner of the the Inquiry into the Treatment, Experiences, and Outcomes of Innu in the Child Protection System and the Inquiry into Ground Search and Rescue for Lost and Missing Persons in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is also a Reconciliation Officer of the Sixties Scoop Settlement Agreement.

James Igloliorte and his wife live in St. John’s, Newfoundland. They have four children and five grandchildren.

 

Garry McLean Zhoongi-ghabowi ininah

GARRY MCLEAN

Garry McLean (Zhoongi-ghabowi ininah, “Standing Strong Man”) of the Bear Clan was born and raised in Dog Creek Lake Manitoba First Nation, where he lived with his parents and seven siblings. His nickname, “Sunny Boy”, came from his love for waking up early and a cereal he’d beg his grandfather to buy. Despite both parents attending residential school, their connection to language and culture remained strong; Garry spoke Saulteaux Ojibway all his life.

Garry was just six or seven when he began attending the Dog Creek Day School. Shortly after the morning bell rang, he would get the strap for not saying ‘good morning’ in English. Despite the darker times he endured in his youth, Garry shared his gifts of joy and positivity, believing change and growth first begins within. “You’ve gotta,” he’d say. “Ask and have faith that support and guidance will meet you on your path.”

A strong advocate for Treaty rights, Garry was devoted to the interests and well-being of First Nations people, serving as political advisor to three Manitoba Grand Chiefs. He never tired of volunteering his time and talents, and was lead plaintiff in a multi-billion-dollar lawsuit against the federal government for Indian Day Schools. An Indigenous leader and mentor of many abilities, he was also an elected councilor, general manager, director, salesman, and co-published the Indigenous newspaper, Weetamah.

Garry was married and has a daughter and granddaughter. Despite his many professional successes, some of his favourite roles were those of Father, Papa, Uncle, Brother, and friend.

“My life is bigger than I am” is the simple quote taped above the mirror in Garry’s bathroom, serving as a regular reminder of what’s possible.