Aboriginal, Class Action

Grey spreads the word about 'Indian hospital' class action

By AdvocateDaily.com Staff

Alberta Indigenous rights litigator Leighton Grey is spreading the word across Alberta about new residential school and “Indian Hospital” claims against the Canadian government.

Grey, a senior partner with Grey Wowk Spencer LLP, recently took part in information sessions for members of the Saddle Lake Band and Enoch First Nation, explaining a recently filed proposed class action alleging maltreatment at Canada’s 29 Indian hospitals, as well as the recent approval of claims by victims of day-school residential schools.

“Many potential claimants don’t even know about the possibility they can make one, so we’re helping to get the word out, and collecting people’s stories in the process,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

Grey says attendees at the sessions had the chance to ask questions about the legal process, learn about the criteria for joining the class action, and hear about the experiences of others who were victimized.

The newer lawsuits have been launched more recently because they were not covered by the landmark Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which was followed by an independent assessment process to set damages for individual attendees at various schools across the country, he says.

The stories he's heard from class members in the Indian hospital case are frequently disturbing.

“We heard multiple stories about children being switched at birth, including one man who didn’t discover he had been raised by the wrong parents until he was 35,” Grey says. “These are not isolated casesthey are clearly instances of negligence.”

Some former patients alleged undergoing dental work and other surgery without anesthetic, he says.

“Others said they had unnecessary surgical procedures performed on them due to the inadequacy or absence of records,” Grey says. “Patients said they would be strapped to the beds and children would be put in partial or full body casts in order to immobilize them because there weren’t enough staff to handle them.”

During the 1950s and '60s, Grey says Alberta hospitals typically spent between $12 and $14 on each patient per day on hospital care. However, his legal team’s research suggests the equivalent figure for patients in Indian hospitals was $2 per day.

“That difference showed,” he says. “Many of these people now have ongoing psychological and physical trauma and have suffered long-term health consequences."

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