Settlement reached on Indian Day Schools
- EFN Staff | March 13, 2019
The government of Canada announced a Settlement Agreement reached for former students of Indian Day Schools. On March 12, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, along with Claudette Commanda and Roger Augustine, announced that parties have reached a proposed settlement agreement recognizing the harms suffered by former students of Indian Day Schools.
“[This] marks a historic step forward, as we have reached a proposed settlement agreement for former students of Indian Day Schools. This truly is an example of the type of work we can accomplish together when we negotiate rather than litigate resolution of Childhood Claims,” said Minister Bennett in a media release. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless leadership, advocacy, and commitment to justice demonstrated by the class members. Canada is committed to righting historical wrongs, and will continue to work with survivors in the spirit of healing, commemoration and reconciliation.”
The proposed settlement agreement includes $10,000 in individual compensation for thousands of Indigenous people who suffered harm while attending federally operated Indian Day Schools. Those who experienced physical and sexual abuse are eligible for additional compensation, with amounts ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 based on the severity of the abuses suffered.
Students like Claudette Commanda, suffered from abuse in the Indian Day School. Commanda attended the Congway School in Ontario.
“From that day on, each school day, I would dread going to school because I feared the teacher. I was repeatedly physically abused,” said Commanda. “She would hit us with a ruler if we were not sitting properly or if she did not like the way we looked or spoke. We were punished if we spoke Algonquin. We were called ‘savages.’ She constantly told me I was lazy and would not amount to anything good. I felt helpless and the fear walked with me for a long time.”
She stated that she wants the world to know the abuse suffered by First Nation children in the Canadian government’s school system.
“First Nation children and Inuit children experienced hardships in government run day schools, our truths must be told,” she said. “No child should experience suffering and pain because of the color of their skin or culture.”
The proposed settlement agreement also provides an investment of $200 million to the McLean Day School Settlement Corporation for Legacy Projects that support healing, wellness, education, language, culture and commemoration for class members and their communities.