Historic, multimillion-dollar compensation for indigenous children in Canada

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A Canadian court approved a historic, multimillion-dollar settlement to reform the discriminatory child welfare system and compensate the indigenous families who have suffered because of it.

The reform provides 16.7 billion dollars in compensation to more than 300,000 children and their families, and an additional 14 billion dollars for the reform of the child welfare system in indigenous communities.

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"This compensation agreement is historic and the largest in Canadian history," Patty Hadju, the country's Indigenous Services Minister, told reporters.

"This will not erase the harm that occurred but it will recognize the pain that many of the plaintiffs suffered," he added.

This agreement comes after several lawsuits that led to decades of court fights and negotiations, and a human rights tribunal finding that the government had underfunded Indigenous children's services compared to non-Indigenous services.

Despite representing 8 percent of children under 14 years of age, Indigenous people make up more than half of the children in foster care in Canadaaccording to a 2016 census.

The agreement also comes shortly after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves in hundreds of boarding schools that the government created to deprive students of their culture and language.

From the end of the 19th century until the 1990s, some 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their homes and placed in 139 residential schools.

Thousands died, mostly from malnutrition, disease or neglect, an event described as "cultural genocide" in a 2015 report by a truth and reconciliation committee.

Many others suffered physical or sexual abuse.

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Pope Francis, during a visit to Canada In July 2022, he apologized for abuses at boarding schools run by the Church.

The government has made reconciliation a priority, but previously opposed court orders for compensation related to child welfare, saying it preferred to negotiate a settlement.

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With information from AFP.


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