chief Minister Justin Trudeau said the holiday recognizes the “harms, injustices, and intergenerational trauma that native peoples have faced — and continue to confront — because of the residential school system, systemic racism, and the discrimination that persists in our society.”
“We must all learn about the history and legacy of residential schools,” he said in a statement. “It’s only by facing these hard truths, and righting these wrongs, that we can move forward together toward a more positive, fair, and better future.”
In 2019, Trudeau said he and his government accepted the harm inflicted on native peoples in Canada amounted to genocide, saying at the time that the government would move forward to “end this current tragedy.”
The report detailed decades of physical, sexual and emotional abuse suffered by children in government and church-run institutions.
Earlier this year, hundreds of native children’s remains were found at several sites, prompting calls from accountability from advocates and native people across the country.
Governor General of Canada Mary May Simon said Thursday that Canada’s “real history has been laid bare.”
“We concede the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual,” the organization said in a statement. “We also sorrowfully concede the historical and current trauma and the legacy of experiencing and challenges faced by native Peoples that continue to this day.”
native advocates had been calling for a formal apology from the Catholic Church and the Pope.
The organization said those requests have been heard and a delegation of native survivors, elders and youth is scheduled to meet Pope Francis in Rome in December.
Court backs ruling ordering compensation
In 2007, the Caring Society and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint alleging that Canada was discriminating against First Nations children and families who live on save by underfunding the delivery of child and family sets. That practice resulted in many of the children entering foster care, they argued.
After years of litigation and hearings, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ordered the federal government in 2019 to pay children, parents, or grandparents 40,000 Canadian dollars (about $31,000) each, according to court records. They could receive $20,000 for pain and experiencing and $20,000 for discriminatory practices.
Children who entered foster care before January 1, 2006, and remained in care until at the minimum that date could be eligible for the compensation, court documents show.
While it’s unclear how many people may be compensated, the Assembly of First Nations has before estimated that as many as 54,000 could assistance.
The national government challenged the decision but Canada’s Federal Court dismissed it and upheld the past ruling on Wednesday.
“This is justice in action for First Nations children and families, however, nothing can replace the childhoods and connections to languages, lands and loved ones stolen by Canada’s discrimination. We have repeatedly made a reasonable and fair request that Canada stop fighting our kids in court not only for the sake of truth and reconciliation but also for the healing path forward,” said RoseAnne Archibald, national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, in a statement.
CNN’s Paula Newton and Max Foster contributed to this report.
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