Indian Residential Schools: Canada’s Apartheid System – Addressing a Historical Wrong


June 21, 2005 :: Rhonda Ruston
Moderated by Dianne King

Indian Residential Schools were created by the government in the latter part of the 1800s and continued to operate in various parts of the country as late as the 1980s. These Residential Schools caused visible, tangible and immeasurable damage to thousands and thousands of people across this country. This damage continues to affect hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal people and their communities today.

Beginning In 1994, and in the following 7 years, survivors seeking acknowledgement of their unnecessary and horrific pain and suffering and compensation for the unfathomable damage caused to them individually and on a community wide basis, filed lawsuits against the government and churches who had run those schools. Until recently, the government has fought this issue on every front, delaying and denying these claims, despite the fact that the Indian Residential School System remains Canada’s most shameful chapter in its history as a country.

On May 30, 2005 the government indicated its willingness to start addressing an overall settlement of these claims with the appointment of Mr. Iaccobucci, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, as their representative in negotiations with the people’s lawyers. Will this bring an end to the delaying and denial?

Why should the non-native Canadian population be encouraging the government to settle these claims? What’s in it for the Canadian taxpayer? Why is it so important to the aboriginal communities? Why is it so important to the future of this country as a whole? Rhonda Ruston will address these questions.

Speaker:

Rhonda Ruston, Q.C. has been a lawyer in Lethbridge for 23 years. For the past 7 years she has represented 576 aboriginal people from the Blood and Peigan Reserves in their lawsuits respecting the damage caused to them as a result of their attendance in the 4 Indian Residential Schools which operated in Southern Alberta. Ruston’s law firm is one of 21 from across Canada that are part of a national consortium called the Baxter National Class Action Group. Baxter National is a class action on behalf of all residential school survivors across Canada.


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