The Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children is close to settling a class-action lawsuit brought forth by former residents.

They are suing both the home and the Nova Scotia government, alleging sexual and physical abuse at the orphanage, and now a tentative deal has been reached.

“We made a major advancement today,” says former resident Tony Smith, whose legal battle over abuse allegations began in 2001.

“It’s a great day for former residents. It’s a great day for Nova Scotia.”

Over the years, more than 50 other former residents launched suits against the home. That number grew to more than 140 after lawyer Ray Wagner joined a proposed class-action lawsuit against the home and the provincial government.

“We’ve come to terms with most of the arrangement,” says Wagner. “Some minor items to work out, but we’re confident we’ve reached an agreement.”

The exact terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but Wagner says it’s important to get the news out.

“Cross-exams begin next week and it will change the dynamic in the room,” he says. “There will be one lawyer instead of two.”

Smith says it’s news he’s been waiting for more than a decade to hear.

“In my wildest dreams I never thought it would take this long,” he says, choking back tears while sharing the story of a childhood friend who he says is the reason behind his fight.  

“What inspired me was Tony Langford. He didn’t die in vain.”

While a settlement has been reached with the home, the fight is far from over. A settlement must still be reached with the province, but Smith is hopeful.

“One would hope it would have a significant impact,” he says.

Wagner says there is money involved in the settlement and that the figure could become public as early as next week, or it could take until June.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Rick Grant