Listen to Today's Edition
The Canadian government agreed this week to pay more than $2 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit seeking compensation for the loss of language and culture caused by the country’s controversial residential school system, the BBC reported.
The lawsuit began in 2012 when 325 First Nations sought reparations from the government for the abuse Indigenous Canadians faced at the residential schools.
Funded by the government, the residential school system aimed to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society. From the 19th century until the 1970s around 150,000 children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in these schools, where they suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Thousands of children are believed to have died attending these schools as a result of the abuse and poor facilities.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said that while the settlement would not “erase or make up for the past,” it could help “address the collective harm caused by Canada’s past.”
Indigenous leaders welcomed the settlement, which still needs to be finalized and approved by a court.
Officials said the funds will be paid to a non-profit trust independent of the government over the course of 20 years.
Over the past few years, Canada has faced a reckoning with its past over the residential school system. In 2015, the landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report concluding that the controversial system amounted to “cultural genocide.”
In recent years, Indigenous groups have discovered evidence of hundreds of mass graves on former residential school campuses. These findings have reignited the fury over the mistreatment of Indigenous children.