OTTAWA, ON: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum joined with survivors of St. Anne’s Residential School to decry the legal tactics employed by the Government of Canada against plaintiffs in a legal battle for access to evidence documenting horrific crimes of abuse and torture at the notorious institution.
“After suffering unimaginable horrors as children, these brave survivors have been blocked at every opportunity in their efforts to be recognized in these proceedings. Instead of having their voices heard, they are being bullied into silence,” said Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum during a press conference in Ottawa today. “We are extremely disappointed that the legal action taken by the Government of Canada does not match this government’s mandate on reconciliation. This is shameful, and we are no closer to reconciliation without justice for the St. Anne’s survivors.”
Achneepineskum joined St. Anne’s survivors Edmund Metatawabin, Angela Shisheesh and an unnamed claimant (14114) to decry the legal tactics by federal lawyers against the legal team representing the survivors as intimidation against further court challenges.
In a scathing ruling earlier this month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell found that:
“The relationship between the Justice Department of Canada and the survivors of St. Anne’s is festering sore of suspicion, animosity, distrust, and resentment.” “The government’s attempt to go after the legal team of survivors Angela Shisheesh and another survivor for the legal costs as an example of the government “settling scores.”
Survivors are calling on Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett pursue a negotiated settlement. They request that a legal authority be mandated to help the parties negotiate a solution in good faith to address the legal issues from Canada’s failure to live up to its obligations under the IRSSA. If there is no resolution, survivors are willing to seek justice in international courts.
Metatawabin and other St. Anne’s survivors have proved (2014) that the government filed false reports about abuse at St. Anne’s. More than 12,000 documents had been in possession of the federal Department of Justice about severe and sexual abuse, but this information was suppressed by the federal government for the Independent Assessment (IAP) process.