Voices From Here

From the 1880s until the mid-1990s, the Government of Canada funded both church- and government-run residential schools. The primary goal was to forcibly assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society, and make them sever ties with their families, lands, and cultures. Starting in 1920, the Indian Act required First Nations children to attend residential schools. Many Métis and Inuit children were also institutionalized. More than 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and often taken far away from home. In many communities, the RCMP — typically accompanied by missionaries and school staff — went to every house to seize school-age children. Parents who did not comply faced imprisonment or severance of family allowance payments or food allocation. In the 1950s, the day-school system expanded and, through the policy of “integration,” Indigenous children were slowly transferred to provincial public schools, some of which were affiliated with Christian denominations. Day schools did not require students to live at the schools, allowing them to return to their family homes at the end of the day. However, “integration” was a lengthy process; many Indigenous children remained at residential schools well into the 1970s and 1980s. There were also regional variations. In the North, for example, a new wave of schools opened in the late 1950s; Grollier Hall in Inuvik did not close until 1997. Both residential and day schools contributed to language loss, undermined students’ identities, and denigrated Indigenous culture and knowledge. Many Survivors experienced physical, emotional, and sexual abuse while at school. To learn more about the history of residential schools, consult the Residential Schools in Canada: History and Legacy Education Guide. Provinces were given authority over Métis education in 1937. Often, Métis students who lived in communities without a day school were placed in neighbouring residential schools. Métis students were also sent to residential schools to increase enrollment, which would increase the funding the school received. Other Métis students attended day schools run by the church or the federal government. For more activities and resources on the history of residential schools, consult the Residential Schools in Canada: History and Legacy videos and Residential Schools Podcast . RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL AND DAY SCHOOL EXPERIENCES COLONIAL EDUCATION POLICIES IN CANADA SECTION 1 ACTIVITY 1 ANDRE CARRIER INTERVIEW PART I: WATCH THE INTERVIEW As a class, watch Andre Carrier’s interview. Ask students to pay close attention to the details he shares about his experiences and those of the Métis children at his school. Métis families in Manitoba were predominantly Catholic. CONTENT WARNING: This interview includes accounts of sexual assault and may elicit a strong emotional response from students. As an alternative, consider asking students to read The Canadian Encyclopedia article Métis Experiences at Residential School . GORDON’S RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL, COURTESY OF WES FINEDAY. STUDENTS AT POINTE BLEUE RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL, 1967-68, COURTESY OF MADELEINE BASILE. 6 To view this video in the language of your choice, select the appropriate subtitle option in YouTube settings.