Please note: This story contains reference to children who have died and references of child abuse.
The Canadian Government has announced that they will set aside CAD$40 billion (AUD$43.8 billion) to compensate Indigenous children in residential schools for “historic injustices”.
The decision affects around 55,000 children and is set to be paid after a lawsuit is settled.
The Canadian government separated around 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and sent them to residential schools from 1831 to 1998.
The children reportedly faced physical and sexual abuse at the schools, where around 6,000 students died, but officials say this number could be higher.
Our hearts are full for the Penelakut Tribe. We mourn and honour the 160 children with you. The recognition of these unmarked graves gives us a deeper understanding of the devastating impacts of the residential school system that continues today. pic.twitter.com/aO6Arcf4uc
— NCTR (@NCTR_UM) July 13, 2021
The compensation pledge stems from ongoing negotiations between Canadian authorities and First Nations groups, on how to start making amends for the mistreatment of Indigenous children.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the government of Canada are committed to implementing “long-term reform so that future generations of First Nations children will never face the same systemic tragedies”.
“We have been unequivocal throughout these historic negotiations.
“We will compensate those harmed by the federal government’s discriminatory funding practices.”
“And we will lay the foundation for an equitable and better future for First Nations children, their families and communities,” she said in a statement.
The money will reportedly be used to settle a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order and two class action lawsuits as well as improvements to the Indigenous child welfare system.
A recommendation from the First Nations community was for Pope Francis to visit Canada in hope of an apology for the role the Catholic Churches played in the mistreatment.
The trip was initially scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic and then re-scheduled for this month, which has also been postponed.
In October the Vatican press office said the Pope is willing to travel to Canada as part of “the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples”.
While no date for the trip has been announced, it has been said he is aiming to arrive in Spring 2022.
By Teisha Cloos