Opinion: Residential school payouts squandered
"My mother called me near the tail end of last year. That in itself wasn't as strange as the reason she called. She needed money. She was having trouble making it to the end of the month when her pension came in. It was a shocking call to receive.

My mother was one of the recipients of the Common Experience Payment arising from the Residential School Settlement. Last fall, she and my stepfather received $10,000 for the first year they attended a school and $3,000 for every year after. They were paid well over $70,000 dollars, combined. Now, mere months later, she was broke and in need.

See, my mother and my stepfather have a gambling problem. Even when they were just living off their pensions, and they are both in their mid-70s, they made the two-hour trips to Winnipeg to hit the casino at least every second week. When the government windfall came in, they were able to go every week.

My sister, who lives just up the road, says they disappeared for weeks at a time. They would come home to the reserve for a few days and be off again. She knew they were going to gamble but there was nothing she could say or do to bring them to their senses. Now, all of that money is gone and my mother is in dire financial straits."

Get the Story:
Richard Wagamese: Residential school payouts gambled away (The Calgary Herald 2/1)