A judge has approved a $9.5 million settlement in the long-standing class action lawsuit against the Calgary Stampede Foundation. 

The class action alleges the Foundation allowed the sexual abuse of young boys who were students at the Young Canadians School of Performing Arts. 

In 2018, former staff member Phillip Heerema pled guilty to charges related to the sexual abuse of young boys during his time with the organization. 

There are an estimated 300 complainants who were male students, employees, contractors, and volunteers with the Young Canadians organization, Calgary Exhibition, or Stampede Limited between August 1987 and January 2014, including a dozen claiming to have suffered direct harm from Heerema's actions. 

Before the judge’s decision, the Calgary Stampede released an open apology to members of the class action and their families for the conduct of Philip Heerema. 

“As organizations committed to youth achievement, volunteerism, and community, we take our responsibility to provide a safe and caring environment seriously,” the letter reads. “We acknowledge that we failed class members, we accept responsibility for the harm suffered, and we are sincerely sorry.” 

The Stampede Foundation says that as part of its settlement, it is providing trauma-informed training for young program leaders and employees and will host a safety and best practices learning forum with youth-serving organizations in Calgary and surrounding areas. 

The Stampede also vows to reach out to class members for input on these initiatives.