Canada settles $2.8 billion boarding school lawsuit

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The remains of hundreds of Indigenous children have been found on the grounds of Canadian boarding schools

Canada has agreed to pay C$2.8 billion ($2.9 billion; £1.68 billion) to settle a class action lawsuit seeking compensation for the loss of language and culture caused by its residential system.

The forced schools funded by the government were part of policies aimed at the assimilation of children and the destruction of indigenous cultures and languages.

The money is paid to a non-profit trust independent of the government.

However, the settlement has yet to be finalized and approved by a court.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by 325 First Nations, who sought redress for abuses suffered by Indigenous Canadians in state boarding schools.

Approximately 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families and placed in these schools from the 19th century to the 1970s. As a result, many suffered physical, psychological and sexual abuse.

Survivors testified about children who died in the schools, where students were often housed in poorly constructed, poorly heated and unsanitary facilities.

In recent years, Indigenous communities have found evidence of hundreds of unmarked mass graves on the site of former hostels. These discoveries have rekindled a debate about the system.

Marc Miller, Secretary of State for Crown Indigenous Relations, announced the settlement at an event on Saturday, saying it “will not erase or erase the past” but “can address the collective harm caused from Canada’s past.” would”.

Shane Gottfriedson, former leader of the Tk’emlups Nation and British Columbia regional leader for the Assembly of First Nations, said at the event that “it has always been a struggle with the government” to resolve human rights and t -land claims of Canada’s indigenous people. .

“This is the beginning of a new era in Canada for our people,” he said.

The settlement will be placed in a charitable trust to support “healing, well-being, education, heritage, language and remembrance activities” for Indigenous Canadians over 20 years, the government said.

More than 130 residential schools operated in Canada between 1874 and 1996.

The landmark report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), released in 2015, concluded that Canada’s boarding school system amounted to “cultural genocide.”

At least 3,200 children have died while attending residential school, although advocates say the figure is likely much higher.

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