Canada pays indigenous people taken from their homes

Meagan Wohlberg and Melaw Nakehk’o flesh a moose hide with moose leg bones at the urban hide tanning camp organized by Dene Nahjo in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, in this September 9, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2017
0

Canada pays indigenous people taken from their homes

TORONTO: The Canadian government has agreed to pay compensation to indigenous people who were taken from their homes and adopted into non-indigenous families.
Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett announced the settlement Friday in what’s known as the “Sixties Scoop.” Indigenous children were robbed of their cultural identities by being placed with non-native families by child welfare services during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Many lost touch with their culture and language.
The settlement for an estimated 20,000 people is aimed at resolving numerous related lawsuits. The victims will share 750 million Canadian dollars ($596 million), with individual amounts to be determined later. Many said they expected a settlement of around 50,000 Canadian dollars each.
Lead plaintiff Marcia Brown Martel, who was taken by child welfare officials and adopted by a non-native family, called events the “stealing of children.”
“I have great hope that because we’ve reached this plateau that this will never, ever happen in Canada again,” said Brown Martel, who was placed in the foster system as a child and suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Many had mixed emotions about the settlement.
“I had no idea I was native until I was a teenager,” Colleen Cardinal told The Associated Press. Cardinal was taken from her biological family at the age of two in Alberta and adopted into a non-indigenous family in Ontario along with her two older sisters. She said her sisters were sexually molested by their adopted father.
“There were ongoing attempts to assimilate our people into the mainstream culture,” she said, adding that the settlement doesn’t amount to much.
“It’s quite disappointing,” she said. “It’s quite low. It should be CA$80,000 or $100,000. A lot of us were taken out of the province, out of the country, taken so far away from our families.” Cardinal now lives with post-traumatic stress disorder. But she said she’s now happy and is the co-founder and coordinator of the National Indigenous Survivors of Child Welfare Network.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba ruled in February that Canada had breached its “duty of care” to the children and found the government liable.
A tearful Bennett, the government minister, said she couldn’t understand how it was allowed to happen.
“I don’t know what people were thinking,” she said.
The settlement package also includes up to 50 million Canadian dollars for a healing and reconciliation foundation.
The agreement is a “first step” in resolving Sixties Scoop litigation, Bennett added, noting the federal government is committed to working with other indigenous peoples affected.
The Sixties Scoop echoes the history of residential schools in Canada.
Some 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their families over much of the last century and put in government schools, where they were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.
Canada’s previous prime minister made a historic apology in 2008 to residential school survivors.


Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

Updated 24 September 2018
0

Own up to mass Muslim detentions, Amnesty tells China

  • Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang
  • Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment

BEIJING: China must come clean about the fate of an estimated one million minority Muslims swept up in a “massive crackdown” in its far western region of Xinjiang, Amnesty International said Monday.
Beijing has tightened restrictions on Muslim minorities to combat what it calls Islamic extremism and separatist elements in Xinjiang.
Critics say the drive risks fueling resentment toward Beijing and further inflaming separatist sentiment.
In a new report, which included testimony from people held in the camps, the international rights group said Beijing had rolled out “an intensifying government campaign of mass internment, intrusive surveillance, political indoctrination and forced cultural assimilation.”
Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are punished for violating regulations banning beards and burqas, and for the possession of unauthorized Qur’ans, it added.
Up to a million people are detained in internment camps, a United Nations panel on racial discrimination reported last month, with many detained for offenses as minor as making contact with family members outside the country or sharing Islamic holiday greetings on social media.
“Hundreds of thousands of families have been torn apart by this massive crackdown,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia director, in a statement.
“They are desperate to know what has happened to their loved ones and it is time the Chinese authorities give them answers.”
Beijing has denied reports of the camps but evidence is mounting in the form of government documents and escapee testimony.
These suggest that Chinese authorities are detaining large groups of people in a network of extrajudicial camps for political and cultural indoctrination on a scale unseen since the Maoist era.
Amnesty’s report interviewed several former detainees who said they were put in shackles, tortured, and made to sing political songs and learn about the Communist Party.
The testimony tallies with evidence gathered by foreign reporters and rights groups in the past year.
Amnesty also called on governments around the world to hold Beijing to account for “the nightmare” unfolding in Xinjiang.
Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced “awful abuses” of Uighur Muslims detained in re-education camps.
“Hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of Uighurs are held against their will in so-called re-education camps where they’re forced to endure severe political indoctrination and other awful abuses,” Pompeo said in a speech.
However Pakistan, China’s biggest Muslim ally, quickly denied reports last week that it had criticized Beijing — which is pouring billions in infrastructure investment into the country — over the issue.
Religious affairs minister Noorul Haq Qadri told AFP China has agreed to exchange delegations of religious students to help promote “harmony” between Muslims and Chinese authorities.
China’s top leaders recently called for religious practices to be brought in line with “traditional” Chinese values and culture, sparking concern among rights groups.
Earlier this month draft regulations suggested Beijing was considering restrictions on religious content online, such as images of people praying or chanting.
State supervision of religion has increased in a bid to “block extremism,” and authorities have removed Islamic symbols such as crescents from public spaces in areas with significant Muslim populations.
Christians have also been targeted in crackdowns, with a prominent Beijing “underground” church shuttered by authorities earlier this month. Churches in central Henan province have seen their crosses torn down and followers harassed.