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Applications open for Indian day schools financial compensation

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett is shown in Gatineau, Que., in a September 11, 2018 file photo. A long-awaited settlement agreement to provide financial compensation to survivors of Canada's Indian day schools is now open for applications.
Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett is shown in Gatineau, Que., in a September 11, 2018 file photo. A long-awaited settlement agreement to provide financial compensation to survivors of Canada's Indian day schools is now open for applications. Adrian Wyld / The Canadian Press

A long-awaited program to provide financial compensation to survivors of Canada’s Indian day schools is now open for applications.

Under the terms of the settlement, survivors can apply for individual compensation for harms linked to attending one of the federally run institutions.

Nearly 200,000 Indigenous children attended more than 700 Indian day schools beginning in the 1920s, often enduring trauma that in some cases included physical and sexual abuse.

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Crown-Indigenous Relations expects thousands of Indigenous people from across Canada will be eligible to receive federal cash from this settlement.

All eligible survivors will receive a minimum of $10,000 in individual compensation, while those who experienced more severe cases of abuse will be eligible for additional money.

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The settlement agreement, which was approved by the Federal Court last August, also provides $200 million for community-based projects to support things like commemoration, health and wellness programs, “truth-telling” events and efforts to restore and preserve Indigenous languages and culture.

The not-for-profit corporation McLean Day School Settlement Corp. will administer this funding, and is currently working to develop guidelines and procedures for organizations to follow in applying for grants for these projects. The rules for this fund will be made available in the coming weeks.

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Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett says the settlement is an important step toward healing and justice for day-school survivors and their families.

“This agreement demonstrates a comprehensive approach accomplished by working with survivors which cannot be achieved through court processes,” she said in a statement Monday.

“Working with their representatives, we have made sure that as well as compensation, the government of Canada is making important investments to ensure access to support for healing, commemoration and culture for the survivors.”

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The Indian day schools operated separately from the residential-school system and were not included in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement approved in 2006.

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