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Canada to compensate aboriginal children removed from families

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Updated: 11:08 GMT, Oct 8, 2017 | Published: 11:04 GMT, Oct 8, 2017 |
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Carolyn Bennett Marcia Brown Martel

Canada will pay up to C$750 million ($598 million) in compensation to thousands of aboriginals who were removed as children from their families decades ago, a top official said on Friday, promising to end “a terrible legacy.”

The move is the latest bid by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to repair ties with Canada’s often-marginalized indigenous population, which says it has been the victim of systemic racism for centuries.

Through “language and culture, apology. Healing, ” Indigenous Affairs minister Carolyn Bennett said Canada was beginning to “right the wrongs of this dark and painful chapter of the Sixties Scoop.”

In the so-called “Sixties Scoop,” welfare authorities took around 20,000 aboriginal children from their homes between the 1960s and 1980s and placed them in foster care or allowed them to be adopted by non-indigenous families.

The compensation package is designed to settle many of the lawsuits launched by survivors, who say the forced removal deprived them of their heritage and led to mental disorders, substance abuse and suicide.

Conrad Prince, a Sixties Scoop surivivor, said the settlement doesn’t compensate for the loss of his language, culture and birth family after he was taken to Germany as a baby.

“The government is getting off extremely cheap on this,” Prince said.

Canada’s 1.4 million aboriginals, who make up about 4 percent of the population, experience higher levels of poverty and incarceration and have a lower life expectancy than other Canadians. They are often victims of violent crime and addiction.

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