The Churches and Child Abuse

Tony Abdo aabdo at
Tue Jun 20 17:06:12 MDT 2000

Whether it's Australia, Canada, the US, or Latin America- the churches
just can't seem to  resist abusing children.

Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK
Canadian natives sue churches
By Lee Carter in Toronto

Five native Indians in Canada have launched a lawsuit seeking
compensation on behalf of thousands of children who suffered abuse at
church-run schools in the province of Ontario.

Between the 1930s and the 1970s, native Indian children were sent to the
schools that were run by churches in an attempt to assimilate them into
Christian non-native society.

The plaintiffs, who attended residentials schools in northern Ontario,
are seeking damages for many alleged abuses, both physical and sexual.
The suit claims damages totalling more than US$8bn.

It has now been well documented that many native Indian children
suffered appalling treatment at these schools with the abuse ranging
from rapes to electric shock treatment as punishment to beatings and
solitary confinement.

Suppressing native culture
Expressions of native culture were frequently and routinely punished.
The lawsuit names Ontario's Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and
Presbyterian churches, which ran the schools under a mandate set out by
the Canadian government.
The government is accused of forcing children to attend these
institutions without supervising them properly.

A lawyer who helped organise the lawsuit says that he has a list of at
least 100 more plaintiffs who fall under the class definition of this
More claims expected
Since this particular legal action is restricted to only one of Canada's
12 provinces and territories, even more claims are expected.

Only a few days ago, Canada's justice minister, Anne MacLellan, was
asking all sides in the matter to sit down and discuss a settlement
without using the courts.
Her pleas have clearly been ignored. Several of the churches who have
already given out millions of dollars in private settlements to former
students of the schools say they face bankruptcy if the expected tide of
legal actions continue.

But the plaintiffs say the school system inflicted incalculable damage
on several generations of Indian children and that the schools amounted
to a conspiracy between the churches and the Canadian government to
eliminate native culture.

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