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Recent Developments: Residential school students say they’ve been hurt by law firm



Recent Developments: Residential school students say they’ve been hurt by law firm

APTN National News
On November 10, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown ordered an investigation into the allegations made against a Calgary law firm. We do not know how many of the Blott and Company lawyers are facing these allegations.

There is a publication ban on material that is before the court.

The original air date for the APTN Investigates episode on this matter was to be Jan. 27, 2012. Many of our sources urged us to move the broadcast date up so that their concerns could be made known to the public as soon as possible. So we decided to move the date of our broadcast up to November 28.

Our investigation was nearing completion in late October. That’s when the people responsible for overseeing the Indian residential school students’ compensation process suddenly took action. We say “suddenly” because a handful of reliable sources have told us they’d had been reporting concerns for three years or longer and seeing no action. That lack of visible action is what prompted some of those sources to approach APTN Investigates.

But after we began asking questions, things definitely started to happen.

A meeting attended by a number of senior officials was held in Stand Off, AB. on Oct. 22.

More than a dozen people attended that meeting in the Chief Shot Both Sides Building on the Blood Reserve. Included in that number was court monitor Randy Bennett, Michael Mooney of Crawford Class Action Services, National Administrative Committee member Kathleen Mahoney and her spouse Phil Fontaine, former national chief and representative plaintiff for the residential schools settlement agreement, Treaty 7 Grand Chief Charles Weasel Head, who is also chief of the Blood Tribe, Charlene Belleau, head of the AFN residential schools unit, and others.

The allegations former students were making against Blott and Company were put before the court monitor at that Saturday meeting in Southern Alberta. We are told the court monitor made the decision then and there to ask the court to order an investigation.

We expect the matter was discussed when the Oversight Committee met in Toronto on Oct. 25, but the minutes of that meeting have not yet been posted online.

Shortly after that meeting in Stand Off, Mooney applied to British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown for an ex parte order suspending the law firm from contact with its clients. That order was issued in Vancouver on October 31.

An ex parte application is one where the other side is not present to argue against the action requested of the court. Ex parte processes are very rare. After the suspension order was issued, the parties were summoned to appear before Justice Brown in Vancouver on November 10.

At the end of that day-long hearing, Justice Brown lifted the suspension so that Blott and Company clients could resume receiving legal representation. But the judge ordered the court monitor to commence an investigation into the allegations.

As we said earlier, the judge placed a publication ban on materials before the court. APTN Investigates does not know what is before the court. We have not obtained any materials or information from what has been filed in court. We are reporting only on information we gathered independently. Most of that information was gathered well before the court became involved in this matter. Many current or former Blott clients allowed us to look through their files and see the paperwork associated with their claims last August.

During the last weekend in November, the court monitor began seizing files. One of our sources voluntarily surrendered the material she had placed in the possession of Russell D. Taylor, a private investigator in Alberta.

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