Residential Schools

Topics: First Nations / Pages: 6 (1443 words) / Published: Nov 3rd, 2013
The term Residential schools refer to a variety of institutions that include industrial schools, boarding schools and student residents. European settlers in Canada brought with them the assumption that their own civilization was the greatest of human achievement and all should live like them. They believed that the Aboriginal people, Canada’s first inhabitants, were ignorant, savage and in need of guidance. Beginning in the 1800s, the Canadian federal government partnered with Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, United, and Presbyterian churches to create and operate the residential school system.1 The schools were set up across the country in an effort to assimilate First Nations people into mainstream society. The assimilation policy started because the Canadian government, stated by the Indian Act, was responsible for providing educational services to Aboriginal children. The schools were funded by the government and operated by the churches. By 1931, the churches were operating 80 residential schools across the country, as well as day schools on some reserves.2 It was believed that the best way to achieve assimilation success was for the children (aged 4 to 18) to learn English and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs as they were easier to mould than the adults. There were a total of about 130 schools in every territory and province except Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick from the earliest in the 19th century to the last, which closed in 1996.3 The idea was that the children would grow up and pass their adopted lifestyle on to their children and native traditions would fizzle away. “Two primary objectives of the Residential Schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture… Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said, “to kill the Indian in the child.”4
Along with enforced separation of young

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