Many students were physically and sexually abused by school administrators and staff. A lack of medical care and sanitation led to disease and death.
In the 1980s students began disclosing the abuse they had experienced at residential schools. By the late 1990s they had begun to launch lawsuits against the churches and the federal government. A settlement agreement included compensation for residential school survivors and provided for the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As well, on June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology on behalf of the federal government.2 He apologized to former students, their families, and communities for both the excesses of residential schools and the creation of the system itself.
2. The full text of the Prime Minister's apology can be found at ainc-inac.gc.ca/ai/rqpi/apo/index-eng.asp.