Residential Schools in Canada

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Residential Schools in Canada

"Founded in the 19th century, the Canadian Indian residential school system was intended to force the assimilation of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada into European-Canadian society. The purpose of the schools, which separated children from their families, has been described as "killing the Indian in the child." Although Education in Canada had been allocated to the provincial governments by the British North America BNA act, aboriginal peoples and their treaties were under the jurisdiction of the federal government. "

"Funded under the Indian Act by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, a branch of the federal government, the schools were run by churches of various denominations — about sixty per cent by Roman Catholics, and thirty per cent by the Anglican Church of Canada and the United Church of Canada, along with its pre-1925 predecessors, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches. This system of using the established school facilities set up by missionaries was employed by the federal government for economical expedience. The federal government provided facilities and maintenance and the churches provided teachers and education." Source: Wikipedia contributors. "Canadian Indian residential school system." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Nov. 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Indian_residential_school_system.

"The residential schools system, which ran from the 1870s until the 1990s, saw about 150,000 native kids taken from their families and sent to church-run schools under a deliberate policy of "civilizing" First Nations.

Many students were physically, mentally and sexually abused. Some committed suicide. Mortality rates reached 50 per cent at some schools.

In the 1990s, thousands of victims sued the churches that ran the schools and the Canadian government. The $1.9-billion settlement of that suit in 2007 prompted an apology from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the creation of the commission." Source: CBC News January 30, 2013


  1. A history of residential schools in Canada from CBC.ca The Canadian government developed a policy called "aggressive assimilation" to be taught at church-run, government-funded industrial schools, later called residential schools. 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. Attendance was mandatory. Agents were employed by the government to ensure all native children attended.
  2. Canadian Aboriginal residential school system from Wikipedia. "In the 19th century, the Canadian Indian residential school system was intended to assimilate the children of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada into European-Canadian society.[1] The purpose of the schools, which separated children from their families, has also been described as cultural genocide or "killing the Indian in the child."
  3. List of Residential Schools from the Residential Schools Class Action Litigation.
  4. List of residential schools in Canada from Wikipedia. "The first residential schools were set up in the 1840s with the last residential school closing in 1996"
  5. Timeline of residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commision from CBC.ca
  6. Thoughts on Forgiveness and Aboriginal Residential Schools in Canada from Faith Today a magazine published by the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.
  7. Where Are the Children?:Healing the Legacy of Residential Schools The Legacy of Hope Foundation was established to address the long-term implications of the damage done to Aboriginal children and their families by many of the residential schools. The psychological wounds run deep and have infected new generations. Healing is a gradual process that will demand time and patience.
    A primary objective of our work is to promote awareness among the Canadian public about residential schools and try to help them to understand the ripple effect those schools have had on Aboriginal life. But equally important, we want to bring about reconciliation between generations of Aboriginal people, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
  8. Plucked from his family in Curve Lake, artist Freddy Taylor endured life in a residential school Like the scars on his face, his paintings reflect a hardship. They show a man at conflict with his culture, a man grappling with the theft of his identity. Source: Peterborough Examiner
  9. Indian Residential Schools Unit from the Assembly of First Nations. Resolution 6/2010 is focused on protecting the rights of former Indian Residential Schools (IRS) survivors in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA).
  10. Residential Schools Class Action Litigation Provides the official Court website for the settlement of the In re Residential Schools Class Action Litigation.
  11. What is the Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission? from CBC.ca. "The Canadian government formed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as part of the court-approved Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that was negotiated between legal counsel for former students, legal counsel for the churches, the government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations and other aboriginal organizations."
  12. Stolen Children fro CBC.ca
  13. Residential School Lesson Plans Central Okanagan School District SD No. 23

Current News Items on Residential Schools in Canada

  1. Google News Search on "Residential Schools"
  2. Residential School Testimony Continues in Cowichan Valley (March 15, 2012)
  3. Ottawa ordered to provide all residential schools documents (January 30, 2013) Truth and Reconciliation Commission took federal government to court over denial of millions of documents

Mohawk Institute Residential School

  1. "The Mohawk Institute was one of several residential schools for Indian children in Canada and was part of the Indian education system administered by the Department of Indian Affairs.
    The Mohawk Institute was founded by the New England Company in the period 1828 - 1834. The New England Company was originally known as “The Company for Propagation of the Gospel in New England and the Parts Adjacent in America”. Its mandate was to propagate the Christian religion to and amongst “heathen natives” and for “civilizing, teaching and instructing the said heathen natives and their children, not only in the principles and knowledge of the true religion and in morality, and the knowledge of the English tongue and in other liberal arts and sciences...”.
    The New England Company operated the Mohawk Institute Residential School until at least 1922 with financial assistance/contributions from the Department of Indian Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the “Department”) after 1885. In 1922, New England Company entered into a lease agreement with the Department" Read the full story at Cohen Highley LLP, London, Ontario
  2. Child's Remains and Other Bones Identified at Canada's Oldest Indian Residential School in Brantford, Ontario.
    "A test dig in a twenty square foot area on grounds adjoining the former Mohawk Institute have revealed a considerable number of bones, as well as buttons which have been confirmed to be part of the children's school uniforms. Large deposits of coal were also found associated with these remains, all at a depth of barely two feet. Several of the bones have also been cut up, suggesting that the bodies may have been deliberately dismembered, while other bones were broken." from a statement by the Kanien'keha':ka Nation of the Grand River. Source: Salem News November 28, 2011
  3. Mohawks investigate whether bone fragment dug up near residential school is from child Source: APTN December 7, 2011
  4. Residential School Settlement Takes Historic Step A class action brought by the former students of the Mohawk Institute Residential School (the "School"), a native residential school in Brantford, Ontario, and their families, was settled in November 2005 by way of a national Agreement in Principle between the Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations (the "AFN"), legal counsel for Indian Residential School survivors and various religious entities (the "Agreement"). Source:NationTalk September 17, 2007
  5. Tales of the Mush Hole retold Brantford Expositor August 24, 2012. The children had no toys, no books and no form of recreation. Letters home were censored – if indeed they were sent. There was one swing and one teeter-totter and 200 kids. Next door was an apple orchard with beautiful fruit but the children were forbidden from eating them.

Films About Residential Schools in Canada

  1. Where the Spirit Lives (1989) Set in 1937 amid the rugged beauty of Western Canada, WHERE THE SPIRIT LIVES is the uplifting story of Komi, a courageous young Blackfoot girl. Taken from her home on the reserve, she is sent by the government to an English-speaking residential school and re-named Amelia. With only the help of Kathleen, a compassionate schoolteacher, Amelia must find within herself the courage to live in what white society calls civilization, and what to her is a foreign and hostile environment. Shot on location in the scenic Canadian Rockies, WHERE THE SPIRIT LIVES is a moving tribute to a young girl's courage and indomitable spirit. Written by Keith Ross Leckie and directed by Bruce Pittman, it aired on CBC Television in 1989. The film starred Michelle St. John as Amelia, a young First Nations girl captured and confined to the residential school system of the 1930s. The system was an attempt to have aboriginal youth to assimilate into the majority European-Canadian culture. Amelia resists assimilation and plans her escape. The film's cast includes Ann-Marie MacDonald and David Hemblen as teachers at the school. IMDb.com, Inc. Entry, Wikipedia entry Watch on YouTube.
  2. Video: A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools In 1928, a government official predicted Canada would end its "Indian problem" within two generations. Church-run, government-funded residential schools for native children were supposed to prepare them for life in white society. But the aims of assimilation meant devastation for those who were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Decades later, aboriginal people began to share their stories and demand acknowledgement of — and compensation for — their stolen childhoods. (from CBC.ca Digital Archives)
  3. Video: A New Future Orphans, convalescents and those who live too deep in the bush for day school: these are the students of the residential school in remote Moose Factory, Ont. For 10 months a year, these native children — some taken from their homes — start each day with a religious service before heading to classes. A CBC Television crew visits the school to salute Education Week — and here, the education is all about how to integrate into mainstream Canadian society. Broadcast March 13, 1955 CBC.ca Digital Archives)
  4. Government takes over residential schools Employees at residential schools couldn't be happier. They're now civil servants, making more money and working fewer hours under their new boss: the federal government. There's also a new emphasis on fostering native culture and language at the schools. But, as the CBC reports, others aren't so pleased by the changes. Some municipalities are resisting a plan to send students to local day schools — a plan that would increase the proportion of native children in community schools. Broadcast May 1, 1969 (from CBC.ca Digital Archives)
  5. Remembering the bad old days in the residential school The host of Our Native Land talks about school days with two former classmates. Broadcast Date: Feb. 26, 1972 (from CBC.ca Digital Archives)
  6. An apology from the government of Canada for residential schools and the damage they caused to aboriginal people. June 11, 2008. (from CBC.ca Digital Archives)