Indian Residential Schools - The National Settlement

“For over 100 years, Canada pursued a policy of requiring the attendance of Aboriginal children at residential schools, which were largely operated by religious organizations under the supervision of the federal government. The children were required to reside at these institutions, in isolation from their families and communities, for varying periods of time. This policy was finally terminated in 1996 with the closing of the last of the residential schools and has now been widely acknowledged as a seriously flawed failure. In its attempts to address the damage inflicted by, or as a result of, this longstanding policy, the settlement is intended to offer a measure of closure for the former residents of the schools and their families.

The flaws and failures of the policy and its implementation are at the root of the allegations of harm suffered by the class members. Upon review by the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples, it was found that the children were removed from their families and communities to serve the purpose of carrying out a “concerted campaign to obliterate” the “habits and associations” of “Aboriginal languages, traditions and beliefs”, in order to accomplish “a radical re-socialization” aimed at instilling the children instead with the values of Euro-centric civilization. The proposed settlement represents an effort to provide a measure of closure and, accordingly, has incorporated elements which provide both compensation to individuals and broader relief intended to address the harm suffered by the Aboriginal community at large.”

-The Honourable Mr. Justice R.S.J. Winkler, Ontario Supreme Court of Justice, Dec 15, 2006

For over a decade, this country'’s government and various religious organizations have been in litigation over the damage caused to the aboriginal people in these residential schools. A settlement has been reached and its approval is presently being sought in the courts of this land. If approved by the courts, this settlement will end virtually all of the lawsuits.

What exactly is this country’s response to the national “seriously flawed failure” known as the Indian Residential Schools? What does this settlement propose to address? Where are we in this process?

SPEAKER: Rhonda Ruston, Q.C.

Rhonda Ruston, Q.C. has been a lawyer in Lethbridge for nearly 25 years. For the past decade she has represented 576 aboriginal people from the Blood and Peigan Reserves in their lawsuits respecting the damage caused to them as a result of their attendance in the four Indian Residential Schools which operated in Southern Alberta.

MODERATOR: Dianne King

January 18, 2007 Noon at Ericksen'’s

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