From the AFN press release (November 17, 2004)
National Chief Fontaine stated in an AFN press release, “Fair and reasonable compensation is due for the survivors but we must also deal with the emotional, physical, psychological and cultural trauma that stem from these schools. Our communities are still dealing with this attempt at forced assimilation. It was nothing less than an assault on our children, our communities and our culture. Children were apprehended from their home and families, beaten if they spoke their language and forbidden to practice their traditional spirituality. The after-shocks are still being felt today and we cannot move forward until we have healed ourselves as individuals and as a country.”
“The current ADR process is an adversarial system that is not working and is in fact re-victimizing many survivors,” said National Chief Fontaine. “It is failing Canadians by wasting taxpayers dollars. It is failing First Nations and all Canadians by denying timely and just compensation. Most importantly, it failing all of us because it is not leading to the healing and reconciliation that is required at a national level so that we can finally put behind us, in an honourable way, the legacy of this disgraceful and sad chapter in our history.”
The AFN’s report addresses all of these issues and recommends a two-pronged approach to improve the current ADR process. The first part involves fair and reasonable compensation, including a lump sum payment that would be awarded to all survivors (or their descendants), along with an additional amount for each year spent in the school. Survivors can also be compensated for severe emotional abuse as well as physical and sexual abuse. The report also calls for on-going activities and resources for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation given its emphasis on culturally-based approaches to healing.
The second part of the report puts forward the concept of creating a national mechanism for truth-sharing, healing and reconciliation. The truth-sharing process would be designed by survivors and stakeholders, and would be accessible to those who attended the schools, their families and any other parties willing to share their experiences and recommendations.
The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that "governments have a legal duty to consult with First Nations to some extent about the development of disputed land". The ruling was based upon a case against the Haida Nation and the BC government. The ruling was suppose to clarify how governments and resource "development" corporations are to deal with First Nations before making land use decisions.
The two cases before Canada's high court were moved forward by the provinces and the federal government against two First Nations in British Columbia. Their case was originally ruled in favour of the First Nations by the BC Court of Appeal. That court ruled that governments and companies must consult and accommodate First Nations before making land-use decisions – even if aboriginal title is still not proven.