Pis to Tacks down Residential School Abusers

By Sue Bailey
March 14, 2009

OTTAWA — The federal government will hire up to 10 private investigation firms to track down former staff and students accused of abuse in native residential schools.

Former teachers, clergy, other staff and students have been named as perpetrators in several thousand compensation claims.

Ottawa has already paid out more than $350 million in settlements over the last decade – most of them for sexual abuse.

It's expected that about 12,000 more claims will be filed under a $4-billion compensation deal reached in 2006.

The deal offers additional compensation on top of payments averaging $28,000 for each student forced to attend the church-run schools.

Private investigators will be hired across Canada to find anyone accused of abuse and give them a chance to respond.

It will be the investigators' job to track down alleged perpetrators and inform the Indian Affairs Department how to contact them. If they've died, the investigators will provide the department with death certificates.

In the past, some cases have been referred to the RCMP for further investigation.

Experience dealing with people accused or convicted of physical and/or sexual abuse is a plus, says the call for bids.

Candidates will be also be evaluated on their security clearance, ability to travel and knowledge of aboriginal people.

It wasn't immediately clear how much the contracts will cost as qualified candidates will be in part selected on the basis of per diem rates.

It's not the first time the federal government has hired private investigators to help it fulfil its duty under various settlement processes to inform anyone accused of abuse.

About 150,000 children attended the now defunct schools that were funded by Ottawa to “Christianize'' native peoples. While some former students describe good memories, thousands sued for often horrifying ordeals at the hands of church staff and other pupils.

Many people recall being beaten for speaking their native languages as they gradually lost touch with their parents and customs. Cultural rootlessness, alcoholism, drug abuse and incest have often resulted, affecting generations of families to this day.

There are about 80,000 surviving former students.


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