Canada has formalized a landmark compensation deal for an estimated 80,000 former residential school students.
The largest class-action lawsuit in Canadian history came into effect September 19. Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine called it a “journey of tears, hardship and pain – but also of tremendous struggle and accomplishment.”
Payments will be mailed out to those who have filled out the appropriate forms, which could take up to a month or more. Individual cases who have opted out of the class-action suit can still go ahead on their own. Many are not happy with the amount awarded. The sum of $1.9 billion averages out to less than $30,000 for each survivor, depending on the amount of time spent at the 130 different schools across the country.
“This is an important day. It is a day of celebration. It is a perhaps, and I don’t want to overstate this, even a turning point in the history of our nation,” said Fontaine.
Former students endured sexual, physical and mental abuse at the schools, which were run by churches and funded by the federal government.