Canada to pay indigenous abuse survivors more than $2bn

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Canada will pay hundreds of Indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in residential schools, its government has announced.

A class-action lawsuit brought by 324 Indigenous communities has resulted in the Can$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) settlement, which will be placed in a not-for-profit trust independent of the government.

It will be used to “revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language – to support survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage,” according to a press release.

“It has taken Canada far too long to own up to its history, own up to the genocide it committed and recognize the collective harm caused to our nations by residential schools,” said Garry Feschuk, an Indigenous leader who is one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

“It is time that Canada not only recognize this harm, but help undo it by walking with us. This settlement is a good first step,” he said in the statement released Saturday.

From the late 1800s to the 1990s, Canada’s government sent about 150,000 children into 139 residential schools mostly run by the Catholic church, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture.

Many were physically and sexually abused, and thousands are believed to have died of disease, malnutrition or neglect.—INP