The Canadian government has reached an agreement on compensation of billions of dollars for children of indigenous peoples, who were taken away from their parents by authorities for decades to force them to adapt to the dominant white culture. A total of 40 billion Canadian dollars (28 billion euros) will be released.
Part of the amount goes to the affected children and families. Another part of the money is used to reform the system; according to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, some government organizations still discriminate against indigenous families.
The chairman of an advocacy group for indigenous children does not want to speak of a victory yet. “I see it as words on paper. I will speak of a victory when I walk into a community and a child says to me, “My life is better than yesterday.”
Abuse in schools
The Canadian government stopped indigenous children in boarding schools for more than a hundred years, where they were often sexually assaulted and assaulted. Last year, the bodies of hundreds of children were found in mass graves near former schools.
These boarding schools were a consequence of the Indian Act of 1867, a law with the aim of allowing the original population to adapt to the white majority from Europe. At least 150,000 children have lived in the institutions. The last school closed in 1996.
“Its an extremely sad story,” said Serv Wiemers, expert in the field of Canadian minorities, earlier in the NPO Radio 1 program News and Co. “There was a kind of sense of superiority. The Europeans thought, “this country belongs to us, and annoying that there is an indigenous population walking around.”
In the schools, children were prohibited from speaking their own language or wearing native clothing. They also received a Christian upbringing. “They were forced to forget their culture,” Wiemers says about it.
The Canadian government apologized for the school system in 2008, after which an investigative committee was set up. It described the policy as a form of “cultural genocide”.