Canada to pay First Nations CAN$2.8B for harm done at Indian Day Schools

Fri, 10 Mar 2023 7:15 GMT
Federal court judge calls her ruling ‘historic’.
Canada to pay First Nations CAN$2.8B for harm done at Indian Day Schools

A Canadian court approved an “historic” CAN$2.8 billion (US$2 billion) settlement Thursday between the government and First Nations for harm done to Indigenous students at Indian Day Schools. 

The funds are to be paid to plaintiffs representing 325 First Nations to compensate for the damage done by rigid rules designed to stamp out Indigenous culture, including language and heritage. The goal at the day schools was the same as pursued by the Indian Residential Schools – to eradicate Indigenous culture

Federal Court Judge Ann Marie McDonald said in her ruling that nothing can truly pay for the harm done to Indigenous students

“As (the government of) Canada remarked, the $2.8 billion settlement is not intended to put a value on the losses suffered by the Band Class members, as that is an impossible task,” McDonald said. 

“I am satisfied that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of Band Class members. The Settlement Agreement is therefore approved.” 

McDonald called the agreement “historic” and noted that it does not prevent future lawsuits on behalf of children who died or vanished at day schools from being filed against the government. 

The First Nations plaintiffs and the federal government actually agreed to the settlement in January, but it had to be approved by the court as well. 

Indigenous students at day schools were allowed to go home at night, unlike at the infamous residential schools where the students lived. However, abuse was widespread at the day schools too. ​​​​​​​ 

There were about 700 Indian Day Schools across Canada. Like the residential schools, they were run by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches and operated from the 1850s to the 1990s.


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