Inuit orgs praise residential school deal

Eligible survivors qualify for $10,000, plus $3,000 for each year at school


Three of Canada’s regional Inuit organizations are praising a $2 billion comprehensive settlement deal for aboriginal residential school survivors that Anne McLellan, the deputy prime minister, announced at a press conference in Ottawa this past Wednesday.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the Inuvialuit Regional Council, and the Makivik Corp. all said this week that they support the agreement, which offers compensation to all Inuit, Métis and First Nations survivors of residential schools associated with the federal government.

The deal is partly based on a report done by the Assembly of First Nations in the fall of 2004, which sought to find ways of fixing the federal government’s ailing dispute resolution plan for residential school survivors.

Many of the provisions contained in this week’s deal, including the shape of the monetary package, are similar to recommendations first made by the AFN in 2004.

The deal includes the following elements:

* every eligible residential school survivor who applies will get a payment of $10,000, plus $3,000 for each year spent at a residential school;
* a fast-track process for former students over age 65, who may apply for an immediate payment of $8,000;
* a $60-million “truth and reconciliation” process;
* $10 million for a commemoration program;
* another five years of funding, totalling $125 million, for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
* survivors already involved in class action claims will qualify for compensation;
* those who take compensation under the agreement — except for those who suffered sexual abuse or serious physical abuse — release the government from all further liability.

The deal benefits about 86,000 aboriginal people in Canada, including at least 3,000 Inuit.

Many of Canada’s residential schools for aboriginal people were run on behalf of the federal government by churches, but the deal also benefits those who attended schools run directly by the federal government. That includes federal schools in the Arctic, and their attached hostels and residences.

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