First Nations leaders are voicing their formal support in Federal Court for a $2.8-billion settlement agreement to a class-action residential schools lawsuit.

Former Tk'emlups te Secwepemc chief Shane Gottfriedson told the Federal Court judge in Vancouver that reaching the settlement with the federal government "means everything" to him.

Gottfriedson said it was "about time Canada steps aside" and let First Nations themselves decide how to mitigate the harms done by residential schools.

He and former shishalh chief Garry Feschuk launched the lawsuit more than a decade ago to seek justice and reparations for day scholars abused while attending residential schools.

First Nations leaders and the federal government announced the $2.8-billion agreement in January to settle the legal action for plaintiffs representing 325 nations seeking to address the harms done to their members by the residential school program.

The settlement is expected to be approved after the hearing's conclusion this week, followed by an appeal period before the money is transferred to a not-for-profit trust managed by Indigenous leaders.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2023.

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