Ottawa has announced the biggest compensation package in Canadian history, freeing up $2 billion in damages for victims of residential school abuse. Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl called the settlement historic. Phil Fontaine, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, bristled at talk the influx of money could lead to increased violence and substance abuse in aboriginal communities but still spoke of a “turning point in the history of this nation.”
There was less enthusiasm last week when Canada voted against a United Nations declaration on indigenous rights that was more than two decades in the making. Canada’s opposition did not stop the UN General Assembly from approving the text 143-4, with Australia, New Zealand and the United States making up the rest of the quartet. The UN rates all four among the 20 most “developed” countries in the world. Last week’s vote suggests otherwise.
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