Canada’s federal government set aside $31 Billion to help indigenous children affected by discrimination, and pay for long-term reforms of the First Nations Welfare System.
“Histories of injustices need historic remedies” Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu said in a statement.
From 1874 to 1996, at least 150,000 children from indigenous families were removed from their homes and placed in state-funded residential schools. Many of these kids suffered from malnutrition or were subject to abuse. This system has often been referred to as a “cultural genocide” due to its attempts to assimilate children by stripping them of their cultural identity. The government’s treatment of indigenous children was widely criticized after more than 1,100 graves were discovered on the sites of former residential schools.
Underlining that “The harm that First Nations children have experienced or the years they lost due to their separation from culture, families and communities cannot be reversed by money.,” Hajdu announced that the country’s government would offer C$40 billion to provide compensation and to cover the costs of long-term reform “So that the systemic tragedies of today’s First Nations children are not repeated in future generations.”
It follows the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s 2016 ruling that Indigenous child care was more common than other services. The tribunal in 2019 ordered that the federal government pay C$40,000 per child. Ottawa originally announced it would appeal the decision, but then suspended the appeals process to allow for discussion with different bodies representing Indigenous peoples and local authorities.
Hajdu noted that during the negotiations the Canadian government had pledged to compensate “those harmed by the federal government’s discriminatory funding practices” and to build a better future for new generations.Payments will begin after negotiations, which the minister called “Proactive and productive” conclude. A December 31 update will be available. Around 55,000 children may be eligible to receive compensation.
The news was welcomed by the Assembly of First Nations, one of the negotiations’ key participants.
“It is clear that many children have been taken from their communities and families by the magnitude of this proposed compensation package.” said the Assembly’s National Chief RoseAnne Archibald.