The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ruled the Timber Bay Children’s Home isn’t eligible for residential school status, meaning the people who lived there can’t be included in the federal government’s residential school settlement.
Opened in 1952 by the Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, the home housed hundreds of students from across northern Saskatchewan until it closed in 1994.
In 2009, Timber Bay was left off the list of residential schools by the federal government. Since then, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band has been fighting the decision in court, in an attempt to gain access to compensation for former residents.
Two years later, a Court of Queen’s Bench judge ruled that there was no evidence that the federal government was responsible for operating Timber Bay or that the children were under the care of the federal government.
In its appeal, the First Nation argued that the federal government had put money toward operating Timber Bay and that officials from Indian and Northern Affairs had been involved with the home.
However, the Court of Appeal disagreed and ruled against Lac La Ronge.
‘We’re baffled by the concept that this wasn’t viewed favourably by the Court of Appeal.’
– Lawyer Michael Swinwood
“I have reviewed all of this evidence, and none of it points to Canada’s being responsible solely, jointly or partially for the administration of the Home or for the care of the children beyond providing funding,” read the decision.
Children living at the home either went to a nearby public school or to a school on the Montreal Lake First Nation.
Michael Swinwood, the lawyer for Lac La Ronge Indian Band, said chief and council will discuss next week whether to file an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada.
Swinwood said he was disappointed with the ruling.
“We’re certainly of the view that they missed the point in relation to the spirit and intent of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement,” he said.
Swinwood maintains the home was controlled under the Indian Act and that the federal government was responsible for moving its residents out of their communities.
“Timber Bay was used as a secondary residential school for Prince Albert,” he said. “When there was no room at the inn, so to speak, they were moved to Timber Bay. We’re baffled by the concept that this wasn’t viewed favourably by the Court…