Native veteran demands apology, compensation By The Canadian Press
Regina - A man who fought in the Korean War is seeking leave to launch a class-action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of aboriginal veterans.
Victor Daniels wants an apology and $125,000 in federal compensation for every First Nations veteran who was denied benefits because they were Indian and lived on reserves.
Daniels, 74, said the $20,000 compensation package Ottawa has offered aboriginal veterans isn't good enough.
'We are not happy with that offer," Daniels said.
"After we came home from the war, you might say they put us back into a concentration camp, which was the reserve. We didn't like that."
The Court of Queen's Bench application for certification of their class action will be heard Jan. 29.
About 1,800 former servicemen and surviving spouses across Canada are eligible for compensation. They have until Feb. 15, 2003 to decide whether to accept Ottawa's offer and waive their right to sue.
Their other option is to join Daniels' proposed class-action.
"We were supposed to get what the white veterans got because we fought in the wars and in the trenches along with them, and we didn't get that. In fact, some of us didn't get anything because the Indian agents said we didn't need it."
Federal lawyer Mark Kindrachuk said aboriginal war veterans were provided with options and had to choose the different benefits they would receive as returning servicemen.
"They received the same benefits as the others did," he said, explaining a portion of the $6,000 non-native soldiers received was a loan to buy farm land, which had to be repaid.
"Our position is the benefits were available to all First Nations veterans. But the benefits were not automatic, you had to apply for them and have your application approved," Kindrachuk said.