As reported in the July 23 issue of the Globe and Mail, claims for previous residential school abuse could easily top $3.5 billion, far more than the $960 million which was originally budgeted by the federal government. In addition to the Common Experience Payment, which pays former students in accordance to the number of years they spent in the schools, the total compensation awarded to former residential school students could approach $5.4 billion.

With an average settlement of $117,613.00, one would hope that this money is used to provide decent housing along with access to adequate health and educational resources for the survivors and their children. I trust that the leaders of Assembly of First Nations and The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will provide programs to assist the survivors in channelling these resources for the maximum benefit of each individual.

If this $5.4 billion figure amount seems outrageous to the average Canadian taxpayer who may not be aware of the carnage that occurred in the schools, they should obtain a copy of Blue Saltwater and read about what Blue experienced when he was exiled to the St Ignatius Residential School. This surely will change their minds and make it clear that these payments are the least that the government and churches can do to re-mediate the damage and thereby engender a process of reconciliation and growth.