The Horrors of Canada's Tort Law System: The Indian Residential School Civil Cases

105 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2017 Last revised: 1 Jul 2017

Date Written: June 9, 2017

Abstract

For 17 years, between 1988 and 2005, victims of the multitude of abuses at Indian Residential Schools tried to obtain justice through Canada's civil court system. They were fought at every stage and with every litigation manoeuvre available to Canada and the churches. Their claims for loss of parental affection, language and culture were not allowed in court. Their claims of genocide were rejected. Their claims of inadequate education, food and health care were rejected. Their claims on inter-generational harms were rejected. Many of their claims were rejected for being filed too late. Many of their claims were rejected on the basis that the employer of their abuser was not vicariously liable for the abuse and in the policy choice between whether the child victim should go without compensation or whether the employer corporate/government/church should be required to pay for the abuse, too often the courts decided it would not be fair to allow the child victim to be compensated. This paper seeks to consolidate in one place all of the Indian Residential School civil court decisions and citations, and provide summaries of those cases. In so doing, this paper also deals with other cases of institutional child abuse during this period. This paper also details the various court decisions in which the Canadian justice is complicit with the Roman Catholic Church in refusing to acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church as a legal entity that can be sued. In the author's view, no one can claim to know how Canada's civil court system really works until they learn how that system dealt with the claims of abused indigenous children.

Keywords: Indigenous, Aboriginal, Indian, Indian Residential Schools, torts, Canadian legal history, genocide, vicarious liability, Roman Catholic Church, education, child abuse

Suggested Citation

McMahon, Thomas, The Horrors of Canada's Tort Law System: The Indian Residential School Civil Cases (June 9, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2983995 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2983995

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