The Indian Residential Settlement Agreement: A Milestone in Canadian History
The Indian Residential Settlement Agreement of 2007 is a significant milestone in Canadian history, marking the end of a long and dark chapter in the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. The agreement provided compensation and support for the survivors of residential schools, which were institutions created to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society.
The residential school system operated in Canada for over 150 years, with the last school closing in 1996. During this time, Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities, sent to residential schools, and subjected to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The goal of the schools was to erase Indigenous culture and language and replace it with Western values and beliefs.
The Indian Residential Settlement Agreement was the result of years of negotiations between the Canadian government, Indigenous leaders, and survivors of residential schools. It provided compensation for survivors, including a Common Experience Payment of $10,000 for each survivor and an Independent Assessment Process for those who experienced severe abuse. In addition to compensation, the agreement also provided funding for healing and education programs, as well as supports for language and culture revitalization.
The settlement agreement was a significant step towards reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government. It acknowledged the harm that was done and provided support for survivors to heal and move forward. However, it is just one step in a long journey towards reconciliation.
As a country, Canada must continue to work towards addressing the ongoing impacts of residential schools and other colonial policies on Indigenous peoples. This includes addressing the gaps in healthcare, education, and other essential services that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. It also means working towards implementing the calls to action put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which include measures to address the ongoing effects of residential schools and ensure Indigenous peoples have control over their own communities and resources.
The Indian Residential Settlement Agreement is a reminder of the harm that was done to Indigenous peoples in Canada and the ongoing work that is necessary to achieve reconciliation. As Canadians, we must continue to learn about the history and ongoing impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples and work towards building a more just and equitable society.