US & Canada

Canada 'cultural genocide' against First Nation - report

A woman wipes a tear during the closing ceremony of the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on 3 June. Image copyright AP
Image caption The report found that students were often physically and sexually abused at the schools

A study has found rules that required Canadian aboriginals to attend state-funded church schools were responsible for "cultural genocide".

The report released on Tuesday found that First Nation children were often physically and sexually abused.

"They were stripped of their self-respect and they were stripped of their identity," said Murray Sinclair, one of the study's authors.

More than 130 residential schools operated across Canada.

The Canadian government forced more than 150,000 First Nation children to attend these schools from the 19th Century until the mid-1990s. The schools sought to integrate the children into mainstream Canadian society, but in doing so rid them of their native culture.

The policies have been cited as a major factor in an epidemic of substance abuse on reservations. Students said they were beaten for speaking their native language and were separated from their parents and customs.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The Truth and Reconciliation Commission issued 94 recommendations

Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a historic apology in parliament in 2008, acknowledging the physical and sexual abuse that took place in the schools.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which wrote the report, was created in 2006 as part of a $5bn (£3.3bn) class action settlement between the government, churches and the 90,000 surviving First Nation students.

The report issued 94 recommendations including an investigation into missing and murdered aboriginal women and an apology from Pope Francis on behalf of the Catholic Church.


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