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Canada pledges $40 billion in talks over rampant abuses of Indigenous children

A makeshift memorial in outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honor the 215 children whose remains were found near the facility, in Kamloops, Canada, on September 1, 2021. - Kamloops has become one of the symbols of the residential school scandal that has rocked the country. Nearly six months later, the community is still licking its wounds, continuing the search and fighting to identify the missing. For the first time since announcing the recovery of 215 children's remains buried at the site of a former Catholic residential school, the community of Tk'emlups te Secwépemc will welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on October 18, 2021. The location of these human remains was a nerve-wracking confirmation for the many indigenous communities, who have testified for years about the thousands of children who disappeared during their stay in boarding schools. (Photo by COLE BURSTON / AFP) (Photo by COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images)
A makeshift memorial outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School honors the 215 children whose remains were found near the facility, in Kamloops, Canada, on September 1, 2021.

The Canadian government will set aside $40 billion — more than $30 billion in U.S. currency — to compensate Indigenous people who faced abuses as children in the country's residential schools, officials announced Monday. The funds will also be used to reform the country's troubled child welfare system.The pledge comes amid ongoing negotiations between Canadian authorities and First Nations groups over how to make amends for the historical mistreatment of Indigenous children."We have been unequivocal throughout these historic negotiations: we will compensate those harmed by the federal government's discriminatory funding practices and we will lay the foundation for an equitable and better future for First Nations children, their families and communities," Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said in a joint statement.From 1831 to 1998, the government separated some 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and sent them to residential schools where they routinely faced physical and sexual abuse. At least 6,000 students died, though officials say that number could be higher.The money will be used to settle a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal order and two class action lawsuits as well as pay for longer-term improvements to the Indigenous child welfare system, the CBC reported."While the Government of Canada's promise to put $40 billion towards ending ongoing discrimination and compensating the children and families who were hurt is an important step, there are more legal steps to take before victims get the compensation they are owed and First Nations children get the services they deserve," Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada, said in a statement.Blackstock noted that many Indigenous children and young adults in Canada still face challenges in attaining basic public services.Negotiations are continuing, but both sides have agreed to a deadline of Dec. 31, according to the CBC.

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.