(Reuters) - Canada formally apologized on Wednesday for forcing aboriginal children into grim residential schools, where many say they were sexually and physically abused.
Here are some key facts about the residential schools and Canada’s aboriginal population:
* Around 150,000 students attended the schools, which operated from the 1870s to the 1970s. The last school closed in 1996. There are currently around 87,000 survivors.
* In 1920, attendance became compulsory for all children aged 6 to 15. In 1931, at the peak of the residential school system, there were about 80 schools. In all, there were a total of about 130 schools run by the Anglican, Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches.
* The schools were meant to educate native children but became tools to assimilate the aboriginal population. Duncan Campbell Scott, a government bureaucrat, declared in 1920 that “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.” He added: “Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.”
* Ottawa agreed to a C$1.9 billion ($1.9 billion) settlement with school survivors in May 2006 that ended years of lawsuits. Survivors are eligible for C$10,000 for the first year they attended a residential school and C$3,000 for every year they were at a school after that.
* The settlement also agreed to established a truth and reconciliation commission, which started work on June 1, 2008. It will spend the next five years traveling across Canada gathering testimony from survivors.
* There are currently around 1 million aboriginals in Canada out of a total population of 32 million. Many natives live in remote reserves where poverty, crime and suicide rates are much higher than the national average
* Ottawa currently spends around C$10 billion a year on the aboriginal population.
Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson
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