Canada pays indigenous people more than $2 billion for abuse

Specific conditions for the payment of the amount will be decided by the Federal Court on February 27 | Photo: Pixabay/Disclosure

The Canadian government will pay hundreds of indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in boarding schools, from the late 19th century to the 1990s.

“Canada is committed to repairing the collective damage caused by the boarding school system and the loss of language, culture and heritage,” according to an official statement released on Saturday.

For nearly a century, the Canadian government sent nearly 150,000 children to 139 boarding schools, most run by the Catholic Church, where they were isolated from their families and culture. Many suffered physical and sexual abuse, and thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition or neglect.

Now, class action lawsuits filed by 325 indigenous communities have resulted in a C$2.8 billion ($2.1 billion) settlement, which will go to a non-profit fund independent of the government.

The money will be used to “revitalize indigenous education, culture and language, to assist survivors in the process of recovery and reconnection with their heritage”, according to an official statement.

“It took a long time for Canada to acknowledge its history, to acknowledge the genocide it committed, and to acknowledge the collective harm done to our nation by boarding schools,” said Garry Feschuk, an indigenous leader involved in the prosecution.

The Federal Minister for Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, stated, for his part, that “all survivors are entitled to the justice and compensation to which they are entitled”.

Specific terms for the payment of the amount will be decided by a federal court on February 27.

In 2015, a national commission of inquiry labeled the boarding school system a “cultural genocide”.


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