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Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 03:26 GMT 04:26 UK
Canada's natives take action

Five native Indians in Canada have launched a lawsuit seeking compensation on behalf of thousands of children who suffered abuse at church-run schools in the province of Ontario.

The group says that between the nineteen-thirties and seventies, the Canadian government sent native Indian children to church-run boarding schools in an attempt to assimilate them into non-native Christian society.

Expressions of native culture were routinely punished.

The action names the Canadian government and four major churches Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbytarian.

The case is being closely monitored as a legal precedent could be set which would open the way to many similar claims. Several of the churches have already paid millions of dollars in private settlements and say they face bankruptcy if the expected tide of legal actions continue.

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