CITY & REGION
Thursday, November 24, 2005
said he was sent to St. Cyprian residential school on the
reserve in 1943, when he was seven years old. While Potts said he has made a
good life since, the abuse he suffered at the school remains with him still
The federal government's compensation offer of more than $2
billion in payments and programs comes as a comfort to abuse victims of
For Kenneth Potts, the agreement announced Wednesday will
offer a bit of security in his retirement.
," Potts, a
native, said from his
The deal, which must be approved in court, would likely be
paid to the abuse victims by the end of 2006. It is open to the more than
80,000 former students of the schools -- whose average age is 60 -- and
includes $10,000 plus $3,000 for each year spent in the system.
Those who suffered abuse will receive additional
compensation that could range into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Now 69, Potts was seven years old when his parents were
ordered to deliver him to St. Cyprian's school. That day is seared in his
"My dad reluctantly took me to the school because they
told him the law would come after him if he said no," Potts said.
"When the parents left, they took me and bathed me in some kind of
solution, then cut off all my hair, so I was bald."
Speaking Blackfoot was forbidden, and Potts said he was
"We were abused all the time," Potts said.
"When we were sitting in school, they would whack us over the head with
these sticks, pointers that they used in reading."
When he was nine years old, Potts was shifted from full-day
school to half days, working the afternoons on farms without pay. He left St.
Cyprian's in 1952 after nine years of schooling.
"I had nothing to show for it."
He worked on area farms, and fell in to alcoholism. Thirty
years ago, he swore off drinking and hasn't touched spirits since.
His two daughters are educated and grown, and a source of
He's grateful for the work of his lawyers over the past
decade. "They're not quitters, you know?" Potts said. "They kept
at it, all this time."
Potts is one of 620 claimants represented by the
Partner Vaughn Marshall was elated by the announcement.
"I've always seen this case as one for the ages,"
"With the boarding schools," he said, "we're
talking about something that was happening for over a century, enduring,
unrelenting, affecting generation after generation."