A well-known law professor is describing the legal settlement between the Nova Scotia government and former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children as “very significant.”

Details of the agreement are expected to be revealed next week.

“First of all, an important acknowledgment that harmful things happened and that they should be compensated for that, and a recognition that this shouldn’t have happened in the first place,” says Wayne MacKay.

MacKay says it’s also important from the perspective that the 140 former residents involved in the class-action lawsuit won’t have to go through the court process.

The former residents launched the lawsuit against the province, claiming years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse by staff at the home in Dartmouth.

Both the province and the Home for Colored Children were named in the original lawsuit. Last April, a $5-million settlement was reached with the home.

There is no word on a dollar amount for the settlement between the province and the former residents.

No one directly involved in the lawsuit is commenting on the matter at this time, but sources say the settlement is significant and papers will be filed with the court next week.

Premier Stephen McNeil has said in the past that once the lawsuit is dealt with, it would help set the parameters of what a public inquiry would look like.

MacKay says there are a number of things an inquiry can do that a settlement can’t.

“It’s public in nature, so, as a society, we’ll find out more clearly what happened,” says MacKay. “Secondly, I think it allows an identification of what went wrong and what we can learn from that so that we won’t make these kinds of mistakes in the future.”

He believes education plays an important role as well.

“This was a very negative aspect of Nova Scotia history and we have to acknowledge that it existed.”

Sources say a government announcement about the settlement is expected Tuesday.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster