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Truth Commission hears Canadian abuse stories

by
03 May 2013

By a staff reporter

STORIES of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse at church-run residential schools for aboriginal children in Canada were told in public at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Montreal this week.

For more than 150 years, about 180,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children were removed from their homes and sent to federally funded schools managed by Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, and United Churches.

A law passed in Canada, in 1920, had made it compulsory for aboriginal children to live at schools run by the Churches. The last of these schools closed in 1996.

There are currently some 80,000 living survivors. About half have laid criminal charges.

The hearings were the fifth in a series convened after the establishment of the Commission, in 2009, as part of a compensation-package agreed in response to a series of legal challenges brought against the Canadian government and the four Churches by former students. The hearings are scheduled to conclude in 2014.

The Anglican Church of Canada agreed to pay $25 million, subsequently revised down to $15.8 million, towards its share of the abuse claims.

The Primate of Canada, the Most Revd Fred Hiltz, led the Anglican delegation at the hearing.

The Principal Clerk of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, Stephen Kendall, said: "For many of our members, this process has opened doors to the truth of one part of our history. It is painful to learn that the Church we know and love has caused so much pain."

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