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Residential Schools in Canada Research Paper

Residential schools were seen by the Canadian government as a way to civilize the native population and keep their children from continuing in their native traditions. In 1895 Rev Fr A.M Carion stated in a report from a residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia that the purpose of the residential school is to civilize the Indian and to make them good, useful and law abiding members of society with strict punishments for any wrong doings. 1 Richard Pratt, who founded the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, one of the first of the reservation schools in the United States, preached “you must kill the Indian in him; to save the man”. These ideals were later adopted by the Canadian government. 2 The goal of residential schools was to assimilate Aboriginals into white society through children since they were much more susceptible to influence. This research paper will focus on the residential school system and will argue that the Canadian government and churches committed genocide amongst the indigenous populations in an attempt to eliminate the native culture. It will focus on the history of residential schools in Canada, their intended targets, the health and quality of life of the Aboriginals attending these schools, the sterilization of Aboriginal women, those who succeeded in the school system, and what has changed since the opening of the schools. 0F 1F

Up until the mid 1850’s, churches were in full control of the residential schools. The Bagot Commission Report of 1842 and the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 came into effect and opened the way for the Canadian government to fund schools that would teach english, religion and other aspects of European culture and discipline anyone who displayed native traits. 3 By 1892, the Federal government and churches entered into a partnership to run the residential school system for the children. 4 The residential schools grew from fifty-four schools in 1898 to a high of eighty-one by 1946. Residential schools expanded in numbers quickly due to the Federal government’s funding and support. From 1840 to 1980, over one hundred twenty-five thousand Aboriginal, Metis and Inuit children attended these residential schools. 5 Residential schools were the government and churches’ way of eliminating the native traditions and forcefully assimilating them into society. Most acts of genocide receive public support towards the victim but due to the government’s cunning ability to conceal the truth they were able to continue this form of 2F 3F 4F

1

Derek G. Smith, The “Policy of Aggressive Civilization” and Projects of Governance in Roman Catholic Industrial Schools for Native Peoples in Canada, 1870-95, Canadian Anthropology Society, 43(2001): 264. 2

Latoya Peterson, NPR Reports on the Strange History of Native American Boarding Schools”, Racialicious, May 13, 2008, http://www.racialicious.com/2008/05/13/npr-reports-on-the-strange-history-ofnative-american-boarding-schools. 3

Can Money Undo the Past? A Canadian Example, Comparitive Education

39, no. 3 (August 2003): 332.
4 5

Heidi Kuran, “Residential Schools & Abuse”, http://www.niichro.com/womhealth/wohealth7.html. Murray, “Can Money Undo the Past”, 332. 1

Residential Schools in Canada Research Paper

cultural annihilation for over 150 years with little opposition. This act of genocide is now looked on by some as Canada’s Holocaust; as Canadian officials delicately attempted to eradicate an entire culture and assimilate Aboriginals in Canada into its own culture and under its rules. The intended target of the residential schools was not the adult population but native children between the ages of three to eighteen because they were easier to manipulate and control. By 1920, under the direction of Duncan Campbell Scott, head of the Department of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932, it became mandatory for all to attend residential schools and people were taken by force...
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