Serious abuse – now indigenous families receive billions in compensation – NRK Sápmi

What happened in Canada from 1883 to 1996 is described as cultural genocide. The natives of the country lost their children. They were sent to boarding schools.

There, children are abused, abused, and malnourished. They are given a number, not a name. They are refused to speak their mother tongue.

– The Catholic Church in Canada has a history they cannot be proud of. Among other things, theological understanding helped legitimize this colonial policy and practice of assimilation.

This is what the professor at Kirkelig utdanningssenter nord by VID Troms, Tore Johnsen, told NRK.

RESEARCHER: Tore Johnsen is a professor in the Faculty of Theology, Diakonia and Management.

Photo: Dan Robert Larsen / NRK

Billions of dollars in compensation for indigenous children

Johnsen explains that since the late 18th century, there has been a widespread theological view in the West that Christianity and culture are closely related.

There is an assumption that Christianity is associated with higher civilizations, a gradation that fits into the notion of racial hierarchy.

– Indigenous culture is seen as less valuable and further down the hierarchy. The Christians then thought that indigenous peoples should be elevated. This is seen as a good deed, Johnsen explained, Johnsen explained.

Schoolchildren at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School

MUST HELP: Schoolchildren at Fort Simpson Indian Residential School

Photo: HANDOUT / Reuters

A federal court this week sentenced Canadian authorities to pay compensation of 2 to 10 billion kroner to the country’s natives, wrote Guard.

Compensation will be made to relatives and children in Indigenous countries previously placed in public care at Canadian boarding schools, reports CNN.

Custom Society calling the verdict a big win.

Justin Trudeau

DEMAND: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Photo: Reuters

This summer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked about apologizing for such a devastating policy.

Authorities have to pay compensation of up to NOK 270,000 to relatives and children.

It remains unclear how many were affected. Indigenous peoples’ organizations themselves estimate that more than 50,000 indigenous peoples are entitled to compensation.

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been found for children who died in Canadian boarding schools for unknown reasons. The Catholic Church runs several boarding schools, and this week has apologized.

Students and a nun photographed in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Canada in February 1940

Students and a nun are photographed in a classroom at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Canada in February 1940

Photo: Canadian Libraries and Archives

About 150,000 children are affected by the Canadian authorities’ assimilation policies towards indigenous peoples.


Johnsen has researched theology, racism against Sami and the need for decolonization.

Decolonization in this context means uncovering how certain mindsets legitimized and naturalized colonial oppression.

He explains the topic in the article “Man first, Christian then”, which will be published soon.

– The understanding that the Christian faith is connected to a healthy civilization is part of the basis for abuses against indigenous peoples in Canada and the Nordic countries, explains Johnsen.

Migrant Sami Children at School, Karasjok January 1950

NORWAY: Sami children should be taught to be «good Norwegians» in the same way as indigenous children in Canada. Offenses are not as serious as in Canada. The people in the pictures have no direct connection to the case.

Photo: Sverre A. Børretzen / SCANPIX

He said for our country that theological decolonization has just begun.

– We have to discuss such decolonization both in majority society and in Sami society. Among other things, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission should examine the church’s role in Norwegianization, suggested Johnsen.

He had no opinion on whether the Commission should propose individual compensation. However, he believes it is important to recognize that Norwegianization policies affect not only the directly affected individuals, but the entire collective.

Conditions for living in as a person radically changed, which is the goal of the whole policy. The assessment of appropriate action for remedial and corrective action must therefore take into account the individual and collective damage the Sami community has suffered, he believes.

Norwegianization Policy refers to the public policy adopted by the Norwegian authorities to assimilate the Sami people into Norwegian society.

For about 100 years from circa 1850, Norway’s official policy was that the Sami should be like other Norwegians.

Some believe that Norwegianization still exists today.

Ken Robbins

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