Essay on Aborigial Residential Schools

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The official purpose of the residential school system was to integrate aboriginal children of the Aboriginal people in Canada into mainstream society. This was to be done through assimilation. The purpose of these schools has been described as a cultural genocide, or “killing the Indian in the child.” Children were forcibly separated from their family and taken from their reserves, to be placed in boarding schools run mainly by the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, and United churches. Residential schools broke the connection between children, family and culture. Aboriginal children were forbidden to acknowledge their heritage and culture, native languages and traditional spiritual beliefs. If the aboriginal children broke any of the school rules they were severely punished. For example, children would have a needle stuck through tongue for speaking their aboriginal language, and boys would be forced to wear a dress for trying to contact a female relative. In the film, “Kuper Island,” one person said that they were told only negative things about their nations, and that they would only be successful if they assimilated. Aboriginal children were physically, mentally and sexually abused. Authorities, usually of religious status, would often beat the children when they would talk their native language, engage in aboriginal practices (spiritual, cultural or otherwise) or try to communicate with family. This was also considered to be psychological abuse because it was depriving the aboriginal children of their heritage, culture and family. They were given the freedom to believe what they had been taught growing up. The aboriginals were also sexually abused by authoritative figures. In the film, “Kuper Island,” one person gives a testimony saying that they couldn’t play at ease on the playground until they called a number (this number signified who might be abused that day.) Once they knew they weren’t called they could relax and try to enjoy themselves. The...
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