Wiikwemkoong Chief says a step taken toward reconciliation with deal to compensate former Day School students

The Chief of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory says he appreciates the step the federal government has taken toward reconciliation.

Federal goverment reaches $200 million settlement with former students to end litigation

Chief Duke Peltier of Wiikwemkoong estimates thousands attended four federally-run Day Schools in the community before the transition to local control in 1988. (Waubgeshig Rice/CBC)

The Chief of Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory says he appreciates the step that Canada's federal government has taken toward reconciliation.

Chief Duke Peltier is reacting to an Agreement-in-Principle reached with former Indian Day School students yesterday.

It brings to an end the class-action claim, which was certified on June 21, from former students which was seeking about $15 billion.

About 200,000 Indigenous children attended federally-operated schools across the country starting in the 1920s.

The office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett ​said the list of schools is still being worked on and it will include off-reserve federally-run schools.

The agreement includes $200 million for healing, wellness, language and culture.

Peltier says there were four day schools in Wiikwemkoong before the community took control of education in 1988.

"This is a reconciliation action piece by the federal government and it's much appreciated to assist the communities to get past those instances that still affect our people," Peltier said.

Among those instances, Peltier says, is the abuse that included loss of language and identity.

"Many, many of the children who were speaking their own language were either strapped or made to wash their mouth out with bars of soap," Peltier said. "So those are some of the longstanding traumatic circumstances that they were succumbed to in that regime."

Peltier says there will be individual compensation for students but amounts won't be announced until January.

The day schools were separate from the Indian Residential Schools system  and were not included in that settlement

with files from Kate Rutherford