Edinburgh, June 12 : Canada has reportedly apologized to the Indians living there for its century-long policy of forcing Indian children into Christian schools to strip them of their original culture and adapt themselves to Canada's.
The country's government also offered compensation to those who were taken away from their families and admitted to such Christian schools.
According to The Scotsman, from the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 children were sent to the state-funded schools, and many were forced to leave their parents' homes, as part of a programme to integrate them into Canadian society, and became victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Earlier this week, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told MPs: "Aboriginal Canadians have been waiting for a very long time to hear an apology from the Parliament of Canada."
At dawn yesterday, aboriginals set a sacred fire and conducted a sunrise ceremony near parliament, ahead of Harper's announcement. More than 100 people gathered for a ceremony at the site of a former residential school in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, on the east coast.
At least 200 former students were invited to Ottawa to witness what native leaders called a pivotal moment for Canada's one million aboriginals.
Michael Cachagee was four years old when he was taken from his parents and sent to a school. "The intent was to destroy the Indian," he said. He is one of 80,000 surviving students.
Cachagee, who won a seat on the floor of the House of Commons to listen, said the apology could not be "shallow and hollow". He spent more than12 years at three different schools from 1944. "I was beaten. I was put in tubs of hot water. I suffered great pains of hunger. I was force-fed rotten food. They called me all kinds of names," he said.
Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said: "This is not just about survivors; this is about Canada coming to terms with its past and maturing as a nation."