September 20, 2007

School payout = apology

Residential school payout a 'symbolic' apology:  FontaineIn a move hailed by one native leader as a "turning point in the history of our nation," Canada on Wednesday formalized a landmark compensation deal for an estimated 80,000 former residential school students.

The country's largest-ever class-action settlement came into effect, ending what Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine called a 150-year "journey of tears, hardship and pain—but also of tremendous struggle and accomplishment."
Racist overtones surround residential school payments:  National ChiefSurvivors of abuse at Indian residential schools are still facing racism even as they start to apply for compensation promised by the government, Canada's top aboriginal leader said Wednesday.

Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said he has sensed a "tune of racism" in some of the speculation about how survivors will spend their settlements.

Frontline workers have described the money as a mixed blessing, and some believe communities will be troubled by major spikes in alcohol and drug use, family violence and exploitation.

"This money belongs to the survivors. What they do with that money is their business," Fontaine told a news conference held to formally launch the start of the payment process.

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