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scheme (in addition to challenges that can at any rate be brought by litigation raising the Charter).
Indian residential schools
Reconciliation is a fundamental aspect of the Government of Canada’s approach to
addressing the harmful legacy of Indian residential schools. For over a century, until the last school was shut down in the 1990s, this system educated more than 150,000 Aboriginal children in schools outside their communities.
On 11 June 2008, the Prime Minister formally apologized to former students of Indian
residential schools on behalf of the Government of Canada and all Canadians, asking forgiveness
for the students' suffering and for the damaging impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language.
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is the basis upon which
compensation is paid to individuals who attended these schools. In total, 64,000 former students
have received $1.3 billion dollars. Canada also established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission is intended to give a voice to those who wish to recount their personal experiences with the Indian residential school system and to produce an accurate and public record of the past.
Treaty rights, self-government and land claims
Traditional territories have great cultural and spiritual importance for Aboriginal peoples.
Moreover, the collective management of land and resources is a significant aspect of the way of life of many Aboriginal groups, contributing to their subsistence and economic self-sufficiency. The Government of Canada seeks to reconcile the rights of Aboriginal peoples over traditional lands with Canadian territorial sovereignty through continued respect for existing, historic treaties and the negotiation of new treaties and other agreements. The Canadian Constitution recognizes and affirms Aboriginal treaty rights.
Historic treaties provided for the allocation of lands specifically reserved for Aboriginal
groups as well as continued access by Aboriginal groups to non-reserve lands for the purposes of
hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering. Most of these treaties are still in force today. Claims sometimes arise from disagreements over whether treaty provisions or contractual or other obligations have been fully satisfied.
The Government of Canada has initiated a multi-faceted action plan to expedite the process
for the resolution of specific claims, placing greater emphasis on dispute resolution, committing an additional $250 million a year for settlements and creating a tribunal of impartial judges to decide claims when negotiations fail.
Comprehensive claims negotiations address a wide range of rights, responsibilities and
benefits, including ownership of lands, fisheries and wildlife harvesting rights, participation in
land and resource management, financial compensation, resource revenue sharing and economic development projects. Twenty comprehensive claim agreements or treaties, covering roughly 40 per cent of Canada’s land mass, have come into effect since 1973. These treaties involve over 90 Aboriginal communities with over 70,000 members. Approximately 60 other processes across
the country are at various stages of negotiations.