Residential Schools

Topics: First Nations, Aboriginal peoples in Canada, Canadian Indian residential school system Pages: 7 (2516 words) Published: April 8, 2011
Long before Europeans came to North America, The Aboriginal people had a highly developed way of life. This however all changed when the Europeans decided to settle among them. For the Anglophones and the French people of Canada it became more and more evident that something drastic would need to be done in order to fit them into their ideal perception of what it was to be Canadian. With the help of the church the Canadian government implemented the residential school system, which was devoted to providing a disciplined based ideal that promoted rejection of the aboriginal culture in favor of the dominant white population. The residential system would eventually become an official Canadian policy for the education of Indian. Even though there are those that state that the government was just looking out for the greater good of society. The fact is that the aboriginal people faced many hardships as a result, they lost their cultural identity and spirituality through the loss of the ability to speak their language, practice various ceremonies and rituals, but most importantly the ability to see their families. Many people during their stay within these institutions experienced both physical and emotional abuse, scaring them for the rest of their lives. Of the many tragedies that took place within these institutions the first being the assimilation of a culture. Many people were taught to be ashamed of their own cultures and belief system in order to promote the new one that was given to them. “It was the destruction of the Indians was the goal, and not the improvement.”[1] From the beginning of time the aboriginal people enjoyed a simple way of life and this transcended into the way the children were educated. “Traditional education of aboriginal children was mainly informal, experiential process. Nevertheless, it provided young people with specific skills, attitudes and knowledge that they needed in everyday life.”[2] Learning is for living and survival, so the aboriginal people took pride in what they were able to teach their children, even though it may not have been as advanced as the preferred European way. Children were taught tools that would help them in the future and how to sustain their culture. Some of the following are the basics of the education of an Indian: “The common elements of the Aboriginal education were the shaping behavior by positive examples in the home, the provision of subtle guidance towards desired forms of behavior through the use of games, a heavy reliance on the use of stories for didactic purposes, and as they child neared early adulthood, the utilization of more formal ritualized ceremonies to impart the rite of passage.”[3] This style of education continues today, but its importance to indigenous people has been greatly reduced with the introduction of the more traditional classroom that we are more familiar with today. Closer to the end of the residential school system children and adults believed that it could be classified into two distinct categories necessary evils; necessary because many first peoples saw Christianity as a new and positive force in their lives, or because they recognized the need for European skills; but evil because they removed children from their homes and family ties. “With assimilation in mind, the schools were designed as total intuitions those that seek to re-socialize people by instilling them with new roles, skills or values.”[4]Many people may have learnt new skills while staying in these schools, but the last effects linger on for many years to follow as it was an oppression of a culture. Language is defined as body which can be written, spoken or otherwise communicated between people, therefore making it absolutely necessary in all aspects of learning. As language is an important aspect to a culture the following can be said, “Language is the transmission of culture; a culture can not survive without it.”[5] Once the residential school...
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