04/23/2013 09:43 EDT | Updated 06/23/2013 05:12 EDT

Judge asked to certify Metis lawsuit seeking residential school compensation

SASKATOON - Hundreds of Metis who claim they were physically, sexually and emotionally abused while attending the Timber Bay residential school in northern Saskatchewan are hoping a judge will certify their lawsuit seeking compensation.

A Saskatoon judge heard arguments Tuesday regarding the 12-year-old class-action suit filed by the Merchant Law Group on behalf of about 2,000 students who attended the school at Montreal Lake between 1952 and 1994.

Lawyer Tony Merchant said the judge will then determine whether the claim can proceed.

The Timber Bay school is one of many across Canada the federal government does not recognize as a residential school.

As a result, its former students were left ineligible for compensation under the residential school settlement that awarded $1.9 billion to thousands of victims.

That suit named the churches that ran 140 schools listed in the settlement along with the Canadian government.

“The real injustice was primarily these were Metis people going to those schools and the Indian Residential Schools got compensation but the Metis schools did not,” said Merchant.

“The government has set their own standard; arbitrarily decided that the Montreal Lake residents wouldn’t be included. It was most unfair, primarily to Metis people, and we’re trying to remedy that.”

Merchant has said there are about a dozen other Metis schools in B.C., Alberta, and Manitoba that he is seeking similar compensation for.