Residential School

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Residential School

What if I told you that you couldn’t speak your native language because you had to learn mine.

Hi my name is Chelsea Sylliboy and I’m going to be talking to you about residential school.

I’ll be giving you a brief history, life at the schools and what the after effects were/are.

What is a residential school and how did it begin?

In the 19th century, the Canadian government believed it was responsible for educating and caring for the country's aboriginal people. It thought their best chance for success was to learn English and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs. Ideally, they would pass their adopted lifestyle on to their children, and native traditions would diminish, or be completely abolished in a few generations. The Canadian government developed a policy called "aggressive assimilation" to be taught at church-run, government-funded industrial schools, later called residential schools to “kill the Indian in the child”. The government felt children were easier to mould than adults and the concept of a boarding school was the best way to prepare them for life in mainstream society. Residential schools were federally run, under the Department of Indian Affairs. In 1920, under the Indian Act, it became mandatory for every native child to attend a residential school and illegal for them to attend any other educational institution, failure to send children to residential school often resulted in the punishment of parents, including imprisonment. Federal agents were employed by the government to ensure all native children attended.

The federal government and churches operated over 130 residential schools across Canada. Over 150,000 children (some as young as 4 years old) attended these schools. The last residential school closed in 1996, which was just 17 years ago.

Life at the residential schools

Students had their hair cut short, they were dressed in uniforms, and their days were strictly regimented by timetables....
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