Democratic thinking

Articles on democracy in the independent online media

January 11, 2006

Canada to compensate abused indigenous people

In late 2005, Canada announced that it was to award a cash settlement of 2bn US dollars (1bn UK pounds) to the estimated 80,000 indigenous peoples of Canada, who were forced to attend residential schools as children.

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine said that this was "the single most disgraceful, harmful and racist act" committed in Canadian history.

The average age of the students is now 60 years old. In a bid to prepare indigenous children for white society, many were taken from their families and sent to church schools, and forbidden to speak their own language says a report on the UK-based Guardian newspaper website on 3 January.

It is reported that many of the students were subjected to mental and physical cruelties, including sexual abuse. Fontaine was one of the first indigenous leaders to admit, a decade ago, that he had been sexually and physically assaulted at his school. Back then he was quoted to have said: "Everything we learned about ourselves and our parents was negative...We were convinced the only way we were going to survive was to become like they were. The results are still with us today."

WanabeHuman reports.

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