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Canada will set aside billions to compensate Indigenous people for residential school harm

Indigenous children at a Fort Resolution residential school in Canada.
Department of Mines and Technical Surveys. Library and Archives Canada, PA-023095
Wikimedia Commons
Indigenous children at a Fort Resolution residential school in Canada.

News brief 

This week, the Canadian government said it would set aside billions of dollars to compensate Indigenous people who faced abuse as children in the country's residential schools. The United States has not announced any similar financial plans.

The money is equal to about $31 billion and is also intended to reform Canada's child welfare system. It came about after several weeks of negotiations between the Canadian government, the Assembly of First Nations and others.

At a press conference on Monday, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said the price is high because the government failed to take action despite knowing about the problems for decades.

"This is 30 years of the cost of failure, and that cost is high," he said.

The compensation plan still needs formal agreements and judicial approval. It follows two class-action lawsuits by the Assembly of First Nations, filed in March 2019 and January 2020, that were intended to secure compensation for harms inflicted on Indigenous people.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.

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