On August 16, 2011, Chief Justice Winkler granted NAN and Windigo's request and directed that Stirland Lake (also known as Wahbon Bay Academy) and Cristal Lake residential high schools be added to the list of Indian Residential Schools, thereby entitling former students to apply for the Common Experience Payment (CEP) and the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) relating to their attendance at these schools.

Unfortunately, Canada chose to appeal this decision, and filed its appeal on December 16, 2011, challenging Chief Justice Winkler's decision.

Since then we have heard from many former students who have been told by Service Canada and others that Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake are not approved Indian Residential Schools and have rejected their applications for the CEP and IAP. This has left former students confused and frustrated.

Susan Vella of Rochon, Genova LLP has been retained to resist Canada's appeal on behalf of Windigo and NAN. The appeal is currently scheduled to be heard by the Ontario Court of Appeal on May 16, 2012.

In the meantime, all former students of Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake should submit their applications for the CEP and, if applicable, the IAP now. If you have already filed your application, please file it again, since it may have been initially rejected. We have confirmed with Canada's lawyers that your CEP and IAP applications will be accepted if they are filed before September 19, 2012.

Canada and the IAP Secretariat will then hold on to your application, until the Court of Appeal decides Canada's appeal. If we are successful, your applications will then be processed so long as they are received before September 19, 2012 (even if the Court of Appeal does not release its decision until after that date).

You should still seek legal advice with respect to your IAP application as it can be a difficult process. Contact Susan Vella, NAN Legal Services, or a lawyer of your choice. If you have already contacted Ms. Vella, she will work from the information on your questionnaire to help you file your IAP on time.

Please check our website, (Susan Vella) for contact information and for further updates.

Rest assured that Susan Vella and her team at ROCHON | GENOVA LLP on behalf of NAN and Windigo are working hard to defend your right to participate in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement with respect to your attendance at Stirland Lake and Cristal Lake.