Native Canadians to testify on decades of abuse

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Hundreds of indigenous Canadians are to give evidence before a commission of their experiences at state-funded schools set up to enforce assimilation.

About 150,000 children attended the Church-run boarding schools which operated up to the 1970s.

The pupils were forced to abandon their cultural identity and many were physically and sexually abused.

The truth and reconciliation commission is part of a settlement agreed by the Canadian government four years ago.

The settlement also included an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and more than C$2bn (£1.3bn) compensation for surviving former schoolchildren and their families.

The BBC's Lee Carter in Toronto says the so-called Indian residential schools represent one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.

For some survivors, disclosing their experiences to the commission may prove extremely distressing, she adds.

The schools, which operated from the late 19th Century, were designed to assimilate the children into European-Canadian society by removing their language, religion and culture.

Many former students recall being beaten for speaking their native language.

The federal government has already acknowledged that physical and sexual abuse were rampant in the schools....

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