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Canada is offering to settle a lawsuit with locals after the discovery of the children’s remains

An improvised memorial is growing on the site of a former Indian housing school in Kamloops, after the remains of 215 children, some under the age of three, were discovered on June 5, 2021 in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. REUTERS / Jennifer Gauthier

Canada has reached an agreement with a group of indigenous survivors of non-existent housing schools over the abuses, a federal minister said Wednesday, ending a 1

4-year struggle for justice.

The settlement comes as the government tries to crack down on a national protest after the remains of 215 indigenous children were found in a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. The government is under pressure to stop legally opposing local demands for compensation and recognition in court after the discovery.

Under the latest agreement, the government will provide C $ 10,000 ($ 8,259.00) to each survivor involved in the collective action lawsuit and set up a local NGO, led by local citizens, of CAD 50 million in welfare support. and cultural education.

The agreement does not include explicit recognition of wrongdoing by the government. Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett said the plaintiffs had hoped for a formal apology and “although this is not part of a settlement agreement, we will listen to their concerns as we work together on this request.”

The estimated 12,000 to 20,000 survivors of the case attended residential schools during the day and returned at night. Therefore, they were not included in a previous settlement for survivors of residential schools.

Between 1831 and 1996, Canada’s housing school system forcibly separated about 150,000 indigenous children from their parents, taking them to institutions with the stated goal of assimilation. They were malnourished, beaten and sexually abused in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called cultural genocide in its landmark 2015 report.

The proposal is open for comment by the plaintiffs until August 2021 and will be submitted together with the court’s comments for approval in September.

Bennett told reporters at a news conference Wednesday that the government will continue to work with survivors and their families and others to resolve other childhood claims.

“Together we will move forward on the path to reconciliation,” she said.


Several plaintiffs spoke at the conference, describing the pain the schools brought them and the long-running lawsuit.

“It was a really long process, 14 years, going back to court, vomiting trauma,” said Charlotte Gilbert, a representative of the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit.

A separate collective action, which is still ongoing, deals with the cultural damage of residential schools and includes 105 local groups.

“No amount of compensation can change the legacy of residential schools,” said Diena Jules, a school survivor. “Nothing can bring us back to be whole.”

The government remains involved in several ongoing lawsuits involving locals in Canada. The Canadian tribunal’s human rights case, involving discrimination through systemic underfunding of services for children and families against indigenous children – leading to a disproportionate number of indigenous children in foster care – is due to be heard next week.

The Canadian government acknowledged that its system of funding services for children and families “was broken and needed immediate and substantial reform.” But in his latest statements, he argues that the tribunal is the wrong place for this dispute and that individual compensation is not appropriate in this case.

“This is a really dangerous argument,” said Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitxsan nation and executive director of the First Nations Society for the Care of Children and Families, which filed the lawsuit.

Canada is a “repeat offender” when it comes to revoking the rights of indigenous children, she said. “She needs a heavy hand to restrain.”

($ 1 = 1.2108 Canadian dollars)

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