Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide

12 Residential Schools: Historical Perspectives R esidential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian society. Successive Canadian governments used legislation to strip Indigenous peoples of basic human and legal rights to gain control over the peoples and their lands and natural resources. The goals of these schools were to “civilize” Indigenous peoples by forcibly converting them to Christianity, and to integrate them into Canadian society through a process of cultural, social, educational, economic, and political assimilation. Residential schools were designed to break the links Indigenous children held with their families, communities, cultures, and identities. The schools were underfunded and overcrowded; they were rife with starvation, neglect, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, often including isolation from normal human contact and nurturing. Students were forcibly removed from their communities, homes, and parents, and frequently forbidden to speak their language or to perform traditional music and dance. The experiences of Survivors varied from school to school. option a – The Legacy of Indian Residential Schools The legacy of Indian Residential Schools remains a sensitive subject in Canadian history. To better understand the intentions of and motivations for the schools, read Residential Schools on The Canadian Encyclopedia . Then complete The Legacy of Residential Schools Activity on page 4 of the Residential Schools in Canada Education Guide , available on the Education Portal , and watch the Chanie Wenjack Heritage Minute. option B – Stories of Resistance: Historical Perspectives Most Residential Schools restricted any form of expression that was connected to students’ Indigenous heritage, including but not limited to clothing, toys, languages, dancing, religious practices, and contact with families and communities. Students sometimes found ways to resist oppression by holding onto their identities, customs, and cultures. It was not always possible to resist, and harsh (often corporal) punishments were handed out to those found breaking the rules. Despite this, many Survivors remember the comfort of secretly holding on to their traditions. Examine the testimonies of Residential School Survivors using the Stories of Resistance Worksheet on the Education Portal . • Look for instances in which Survivors defied their oppressors, fought back, held on to their language, broke the rules, etc. What acts of resistance were common? • How did children find ways to hold onto their cultures? Share your observations in a circle, and discuss as a class. “When the sch”l is on the reserve, the child lives with its parents, who are savages, and though he may learn to read and write, his habits and training mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has bŠn strongly impre†ed upon myself, as head of the Department, that Indian children should be withdrawn as much as po†ible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial sch”ls where they wiŒ acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” Watch one of the videos provided on the website for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation or from the online counterpart to the touring exhibition called Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools , and complete the questions in Option B. Thomas Moore Keesick was a Cree boy from Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation in Saskatchewan who entered Regina Indian Industrial School in 1891. These propaganda photos were staged by the Department of Indian Affairs to demonstrate the “civilizing” mission of the Residential School system. Keesick is wearing women’s traditional attire that did not reflect what he would have worn at home. [1] “A young Aboriginal boy before entering school” (Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan/R-A8223-1); [2] “A young Aboriginal boy after entering school” (Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan/R-A8223-2). Map of Residential Schools in Canada (courtesy National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, University of Manitoba). R.C. Indian Residential School Study Time, [Fort] Resolution, N.W.T. (courtesy Library and Archives Canada/PA-042133). — Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Speech to the House of Commons (1883) Image Left: Background: