Residential School System

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The Canadian Residential School System was brought into existence in the late 19th century in a final attempt ‘to get rid of the Indian problem”. In partner with various church organizations and groups, the federal government funded the institutions. The intent of the residential schooling system was to civilize the “savages” and to make them useful and law abiding members of society with strict rules and punishments for any misdeeds (Coliness 2009). Since children were more susceptible to influence and are typically easier to manipulate, they would be enrolled in these schools at very young ages. In the early decades, the system was managed loosely and without proper guidlines. This in turn led to a lack of counterveiling power of officials. …show more content…
For almost three centuries prior, Aborigninals and European settlers co-existed in a fairly peaceful manner. By the mid 19th century issues arose when expansionist policies pushed settlers to the west. This led to there being a direct competeition for land and resources between the settlers and Aboriginals. The native peoples of the west became “obstacles of the newcomers” (Miller, J. 2006). In the face of brewing conflict, Sir, John A. Macdonald began to view the natives as nusances to the nation and made attendance of these“industrial schools” mandatory. Most people at the time “interpreted the socio-cultural differences between themselves and the Aboriginal peoples as proof that Canada’s first inhabitants were ignorant, savage, and—like children—in need of guidance.” (Hansen, E. 2009). They wished to transition the first nations traditional hunter/gatherer type lifestyle and culture into one of industry and agriculture and christianity. In partnership with multiple church organizations, the Canadian government supported and funded this endeavour to assimilate aborigninal children. Children were typically taken far away from their homes at ages as young as 4 or 5, and were placed in schools in very rural areas. This alienated them and caused severe emotional trauma in many cases. In taking children this young, it severed many key family ties and …show more content…
Students were banned from speaking or writing in their native tongue and harsh, often abusive punishments were doled out by the staff. Such abuses documented by Survivors are strappings, beatings, being shackled to their beds, and some even had needles shoved into their tongues as punishment for speaking their native languages (Haig-Brown 1998). Abuse at the schools was very widespread and encompassed the various types. Psychological, emotional, sexual and physical absuses have all been documented and have been testified by many Survivors of the residential schools in front of the Royal Commission (Canada 1996). Students were subjected to Christian education that opposed many of the traditional beliefs that had been taught through contact with their elders and other influences. The forced attempt at erradication of their native languages, spirituality, and culture can only be described as attempted cultural

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