Sask, the most demanding of the First Nations League.Judge resigned due to boarding school file dispute


The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Peoples (FSIN), which represents the Saskatchewan First Nations, asked a senior judge in the province to resign because he did not immediately release the boarding school file.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron (Bobby Cameron) said that the court’s attitude is a typical representative of the institutional racism faced by indigenous people in the judicial system. He said that refusing to hand over the documents immediately is causing trauma to the survivors.

Cameron said that the Chief Justice of the Saskatchewan Court Martel Popescourt needs to step down immediately.

Cameron said: “This is a perfect example of the systemic racism we face every day. This racism is deeply ingrained in Canadian institutions such as the judicial system.”

CBC News recently learned that a document in the Regina court can show whether the Catholic Church has fulfilled its promise to boarding school survivors. The document includes an explanation of the $25 million in “service in kind” allegedly provided by the church to survivors.

Martel Popescul, Chief Justice of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, stated that the principle of “judicial independence” prevents him from publishing any documents in the hands of other judges. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

CBC News requested a copy of this document.

A court official refused to publish the document and instead handed it over to Judge Neil Gabrielsen, the original judge in the case, which was closed in 2015.

Gabrielson also refused to make it immediately. He said he must submit an application and notify all parties.

CBC News asked Popescul to publish these documents immediately, but he said he could not.

On Tuesday, Popescul was unable to give an interview to discuss FSIN’s allegations of systemic racism in court.

In a letter sent to CBC News via e-mail from court officials last week, Popescu said that the court “has a supervisory role in court records” and is following proper procedures.

The letter read: “The court will not change its procedures, proceed in a hurry or ignore the basic responsibility of meeting your deadlines.”

Documents in the Regina court can show whether the Catholic Church has fulfilled its promise to boarding school survivors, but officials refused to release them immediately. (Brian Enas/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Popescour said that entering the court exhibit was “controlled by the trial judge” and Gabrielson has now made a decision that interference is inappropriate.

“Judicial independence is the basic principle of our legal system,” the Chief Justice wrote.

“You will get the answer in due course. If you disagree, you can consider appealing to the Court of Appeal-this is the correct and usual procedure.”

Legal experts with extensive knowledge of the compensation agreement said the process may take several months and will force older survivors to wait for answers. They said this is a public document and should be produced immediately.

They include Mayo Moran, former Dean of the University of Toronto Law School, Thomas McMahon, former General Counsel of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and former Saskatchewan Court Judge and Director of the Indian Boarding School at the University of British Columbia Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Vancouver Centre for History and Dialogue.

“Catholic compliance with the settlement agreement cannot be a secret to the survivors. This would violate the spirit and intention of the settlement agreement, truth and reconciliation,” McMahon said last week.

Saskatoon Catholics raised $28.5 million in 2012 to build the cathedral, and critics say that promises of compensation for boarding school survivors have been largely ignored. The situation across Canada is similar. (Jason Warwick/Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Cameron and others agreed. They say that information is the property of the survivors. He said Popescu “has a chance to do the right thing” but failed.

“These documents belong to people who believe… the court process is fair and responsible. Their trauma is lifelong, and the survivors and their communities feel it every day,” he said.

“The judicial procedures he cited to protect these important documents are the same as the racist systems and laws that support and enforce the genocide of our people. The same racism that forces our babies into these terrible schools and kills and burys these children Institutions, ignoring or even being sentenced to jail for the aboriginal parents who tried to prevent them from participating.”

AJ Felix, a boarding school survivor and elder of Sturgeon Lake First Nation, said this week that the time for patience is over. He is considering going to the Regina Court with other survivors to personally request documents from the Catholic Church.

“We didn’t see it, and no one showed it to us,” Felix said. “We have the right to know what the church is saying to protect its integrity and concealment.”


Anyone affected by the boarding school experience and those affected by the latest report can get support.

A nationwide Indian boarding school crisis hotline has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can call the 24-hour national crisis hotline: 1-866-925-4419 for emotional and crisis referral services.



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