IRS SURVIVORS STRUGGLE FOR JUSTICE
THUNDER BAY, ON (April 26, 2017): Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler is concerned as Indian Residential School (IRS) Survivors are struggling for justice following an Ontario court’s dismissal of claims in the St. Anne’s Residential School case, and an abrupt end to a professional misconduct hearing into a lawyer’s handling of IRS settlement agreements.
“I am disappointed with the court’s decision against an investigation to access 12,000 documents linked to a criminal probe into the torture and abuse of children at St. Anne’s,” said Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “Our hearts are with the Survivors, especially Edmund Metatawabin, who has now been denied standing in a case that he has pursued courageously for years. We are reviewing the decision but will not stop here. Their fight for justice is too important.”
Fiddler is also concerned as a conduct hearing by the Law Society of Upper Canada over Kenora-area lawyer Doug Keshen’s financial arrangements with Survivors for the settlement of IRS claims ended Tuesday with an arrangement that avoids formal discipline.
The Law Society stated that a ‘mutual agreement’ was reached after it ‘reassessed’ its case, noting that the case has ‘exposed serious systemic issues involving the Law Society’s regulatory and hearing process in relation to Indigenous issues’.
“We are discouraged that this serious issue was resolved, according to the Law Society, with supervisory conditions as the ‘only viable option’,” said Fiddler. “We had hoped this process would result in justice for those who have endured immeasurable pain and suffering, and we will look for options to address this. These Survivors were robbed of their childhood - they shouldn’t be robbed of their future.”
The hearing was held after a lengthy legal process over complaints about Keshen and his law firm, Keshen & Major Barristers and Solicitors, about loans and administration fees paid by IRS claimants during the settlement process of compensation claims for their years of abuse.
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