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Residential school survivors in Newfoundland and Labrador seek justice – The Globe and Mail

by pmnationtalk on November 9, 2015597 Views

Nov. 09, 2015

The young children who lived at the St. Anthony Orphanage and Boarding School in Labrador shared the beatings.

“We’d all be lined up,” 59-year-old Richard Preston told a court in St. John’s last week, shutting his eyes as he spoke, his voice breaking. He was 3 when he went to live at the orphanage. “There’d be four belts hanging on the wall. They’d make us pick out which one to whip us with.”

Seven years ago, the Canadian government apologized to the former students of Indian residential schools and authorized the payment of billions of dollars in compensation. But the apology and compensation did not apply to Newfoundland and Labrador – even for abuse after the province joined Confederation in 1949. And so, Mr. Preston and several other indigenous Canadians went to court to tell their stories of abuse suffered at several schools, dormitories and orphanages, as part of a class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government.

The case is a major challenge for the first aboriginal Justice Minister in Canadian history, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and the new Liberal government that inherited it. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to implement all 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, one of which called on the federal government in particular, as well as those who are suing it, to settle all outstanding legal claims expeditiously, based on agreed statements of facts.

The question is whether the Liberals will break with the past and settle the claim, as Mr. Trudeau promised, or continue the approach of previous governments.

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