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Assimilation Through Education

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Assimilation Through Education

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  • Jan. 12, 2010
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During the 19th and early 20th century, federal government was presented with the belief that First Nations Peoples would need to be assimilated into the Western European culture in Canada . Residential schools removed young Native children from their homes, and discouraged the language and customs of the First Nations. This proved to play an essential role in conducting the policy of assimilation . Day schools were built in some communities, but because of isolation and seasonal movement of Natives, it was found to be more appropriate to establish a large residential school in a stable settlement . This essay will examine the extent of church involvement with residential schools, the purpose of the schools and the consequences Native Peoples suffered as a direct result of these schools.

During the 19th century, many churches were devoted to public education. During this time, there was little government understanding of the importance of cultural heritage within the Native Peoples through education and spiritual guidance. Thus the mission for providing education and spiritual guidance, or salvation, was not lessened by the respect for the First Nations culture and spirituality within their communities. In rare circumstances, the national governmental policy of assimilation was not questioned by the church . This approach to the mission allowed the church to represent the ideals and policies of the government in supporting the schools . Between 1849 and 1925, Methodists and Presbyterians run churches began with 12 schools, in which later unified, the United Church commanded responsibility until the closure of the last in 1969 . Some housing was deemed necessary where children from a distance would not have to travel to attend day schools. The Anglican and Roman Catholic churches operated 120 Indian Residential Schools . As the residential school system progressed, it was the responsibility of the federal government to set standards and provide funding for the...