The Canadian government Saturday announced a $2.8 billion settlement to conclude a 325-member class litigation launched by Indigenous Canadians affected by the country’s condemned residential school program, which sent 150,000 children into 139 residential schools from the late 1800s to the 1990s.The settlement money will be placed in a not-for-profit trust to “support healing, wellness, education, heritage, language, and commemoration activities.” The trust will be administered by a permanent board consisting of nine Indigenous directors. Members of the not-for-profit entity will elect the directors in accordance with its by-laws, articles of incorporation and the governing corporate statute. The independent trust will be guided by four pillars developed by the lawsuit’s representative plaintiffs: the revival and protection of Indigenous languages; the revival and protection of Indigenous cultures; the protection and promotion of heritage; and wellness for Indigenous communities and their members.Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said the settlement would not “erase or make up for the past” but “what it can do is address the collective harm caused by Canada’s past.”The agreement, which must be approved before federal court on February 27, 2023, will be the fifth major legal settlement related to residential schools since a 2006 agreement provided compensation to former students and established a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission.Kúkpi7 (Chief) Rosanne Casimir of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc joined other Indigenous leaders in a September statement saying:With over half of the First Nations in Canada now being part of our court case, it’s time for Canada to recognize the collective damages to our Nations caused by Canada’s efforts for over 100 years to destroy our Nations’ languages and cultures. Canada has already recognized in public statements that it caused this damage; now it needs to stop denying it in the courts. Reconciliation demands that action be taken to restore what was lost.In 2008, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized on behalf of Canadians for the 150,000 Aboriginal children separated from their families and communities as part of the residential schools system. The schools were joint ventures with Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United Churches and inadequately fed, housed and clothed many children. Harper recognized that Canada’s “policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”

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