Residential School System & Intergenerational Impact
The purpose of residential schooling was to assimilate Aboriginal children into mainstream Canadian society by disconnecting them from their families and communities and severing all ties with languages, customs and beliefs (Chansoneuve, 2005). The following paper with depict the history behind residential schools, the varying schools across Canada, the intergenerational impact and influence the residential school system had issues such as alcoholism, family violence, substance abuse, lack of education, the increasing crime rate and the role of the Criminal Justice System in Canada. In addition to, what the government has accomplished in terms of compensation for the suffering that occurred.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation defines residential schools as being industrial schools, boarding schools, homes for students, hostels, billets, residential schools, residential schools with a majority of day students, or a combination of any of the above by which attended by Aboriginal students (Chansoneuve, 2005). Children were taken away from their families and reserves and put in these schools whereby they were taught shame and rejection for everything about their heritage, including their ancestors, families, languages, beliefs and cultural traditions. Many of these students were not only disconnected from their families but also sexually and physically abused and often by multiple authoritative figures and many for a long duration of their stay. The Aboriginal Healing foundation classified the cultural disconnection, cultural shame and trauma as a cultural genocide. The unresolved trauma and exploitation that occurred in these schools has now directly contributed to the problems that Aboriginal people face today.
In 1845 the Canadian government proposed a report to the legislative assembly of Upper Canada that recommended that boarding schools be set up to educate Indian children across Canada (Chansoneuve, 2005). The superintendent of Indian affairs agreed but also suggested that there be a partnership between the government and the church to create a schooling system of a religious nature. However, it was not until 1863 that the first Roman Catholic residential school were to be established at St. Mary’s Mission in British Columbia by Oblate Father Florimond Gendre. In 1879 Nicholas Flood Davin was sent to the United States by Prime Minister John A. Macdonald to investigate and report on Indian industrial training schools. Within his report he recommended that funding off-reserve boarding schools to teach children the skills needed in the modern Canadian economy and the government to therefore consider boarding schools rather than day schools. He classified them as residential schools, and deemed them to be more successful because they could completely remove the children from their “evil surroundings” (Barnes, Cole & Josefowitz, 2006). From then on until 1969, the partnership between the government of Canada and the churches continued in all provinces except New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Conversely, the last residential school in Canada did not close until 1996, and it was not until then that the government of Canada assumed all responsibility for the schools and the intergenerational trauma they produced.
The aggressive assimilation of the residential schools would remove Aboriginal children from their homes because the government felt that children were easier to mould and prepare for mainstream society than adults. In 1920, Canada amended the Indian Act, making it obligatory for Aboriginal parents to send their children between the ages of seven and fifteen years who is physically able to Indian residential schools (Joseph, 2002). Attendance was mandatory and by 1931 80 schools were in operation across Canada and about 150,000 Aboriginal,...