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Blackbear 07-06-2006 08:05 PM

Ex-residential school students get cheques, rejection letters
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Ex-residential school students get cheques, rejection letters
Last Updated: Thursday, July 6, 2006 | 9:28 AM CT
_CBC News_ (http://www.cbc.ca/news/credit.html)

The federal government has begun mailing out cheques to former students of
native residential schools but some who thought their battle for
compensation was almost over are finding the fight is just beginning.
Over the past few weeks, Ottawa started mailing out initial payments of
$8,000 to former students over age 65 who were victims of abuse at the schools.
But some applicants are finding rejection letters instead of cheques in the
Joe Prince expected to receive an advance payment for time he spent at a
residential school in Brandon, Man., as a child.
He recalls the day he was picked up from his home in Netley Creek, at the
south end of Lake Winnipeg, when he was about 10 years old.
"The ride we had was on a big truck with a box on it then we got off in
Prince said that when he and his two sisters arrived, he signed their names
in a book, so records should exist of their time at the school.
"Everybody had to sign their names, you know, like they marked us in there.
So we can't help but to be found."
Prince was shocked when a letter from the federal government included not a
cheque, but a rejection letter. The government said it couldn't find his name
in the school's records.
"I feel bad about it," he said. "I cannot be left out."
Are school records complete?
Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada has cut about 700 cheques over
the past few weeks.
Spokesman Steve Brazeau said he doesn't know how many people have been turned
down, but he stands by the department's documentation.
"We have access to all the government's existing records pertaining to Indian
residential schools," he told CBC News, adding that the department also uses
researchers to examine the matter.
But Dennis Troniak, a lawyer specializing in residential-school cases,
believes the government's records could be flawed.
"Many schools burned down. Records are incomplete," he said. "I'm not
surprised or shocked that there are no records for some people."
Long wait before appeal
Prince must wait until the entire residential-school compensation program is
finalized before he can appeal his case. That's unlikely to happen until at
least next year.
Government officials estimate 80,000 people alive today attended Indian
residential schools.
Native youngsters endured strict discipline, separation from their families
and the loss of traditional skills, language and culture at the schools,
which operated between the 1870s and 1970s.
Some students also suffered sexual abuse, a matter that has since become the
focus of legal and arbitration proceedings.

The compensation program's "common experience payments" release the
government and churches from all further liability relating to the Indian residential
school experience, except in cases of sexual abuse and serious incidents of
physical abuse

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