TORONTO (AP) -- The Canadian government and the Anglican Church of Canada have reached a tentative agreement to settle thousands of lawsuits Indians brought alleging abuse at aboriginal residential schools.
The deal, if ratified by the groups involved, would save the Anglican national synod from bankruptcy. The church helped run the schools and, along with the government, was named as a defendant in the suits.
Under the proposal announced Nov. 20, the church would pay 30 percent of the claims up to $16 million and the government would pay 70 percent. The lawsuits could end up costing the government hundreds of millions of dollars.
''Our agreement is a commitment to the victims of physical and sexual abuse to try to bring an end to the pain and suffering,'' said Ralph Goodale, a Cabinet minister.
Tens of thousands of Indian children attended the residential schools all over Canada from 1930 until 1996, when the last one closed. Funded by the federal government but run by the churches until the mid-1970s, the schools are blamed for stripping Indian children of their native language and culture.
More than 4,500 lawsuits on behalf of 12,000 claimants have been filed, many alleging physical and sexual abuse. The government apologized in 1998 for widespread abuse at the schools.
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