Winnipeg Free Press

 

 

New support for victims of residential school abuse

Winnipeg Free Press

 

Saturday, April 24th, 2004 Page B-4

 

 

THE group representing Japanese Canadians displaced during the Second World War has thrown its support behind the aboriginal victims of residential schools. At a meeting of an aboriginal organization in Winnipeg yesterday, Keiko Miki, president of the National Association of Japanese Canadians, read the letter she has written to Denis Coderre, federal minister responsible for the Office of Indian Residential Schools Resolution.

 

Miki told the Four Worlds International Institute for Human and Community Development meeting that her letter urges Coderre to give fair settlements to the thousands of aboriginals who attended the schools for decades.

 

Miki wrote that her association is calling for "a timely, compassionate and just resolution and support for the survivors of experiences in the Indian Residential Schools."

 

In an interview, Miki said the issue is similar to the 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were stripped of their rights and forcibly relocated during the Second World War. "Unlike our issue, the residential school issue hasn't been resolved," she said. The federal government funded more than 100 residential schools for aboriginal children throughout the 1900s.

 

Many of the children suffered sexual and physical abuse, and others said they also lost their cultural teachings and aboriginal languages.

 

Vaughn Marshall, an Alberta lawyer who represents hundreds of aboriginals who went to residential schools, said the letter of support from Miki and her organization "is huge."

 

"Canadaís residential schools system is one of the most serious human rights abuses in our country's history," Marshall said. "The letter recognizes that Japanese Canadians got compensation for improper confinement and suggests a similar kind of compensation is needed for the improper confinement for every Aboriginal child forced to attend a residential school."

 

 

 kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Winnipeg Free Press