Indigenous children were not allowed to practice their traditions, see their families, or learn about their Indigenous heritage. The following quote from Robertson sums up residential schools perfectly “In essence, the churches were attempting to eliminate the influence of Aboriginal families and communities on the minds of their children.” The Canadian government created the schools to try and force the Indigenous people into a European society. Although the Canadian government has apologized for the brutality and severity of the residential schools, they scars that have been left behind will never fade.
More specifically in 1884, it became mandatory for all native children in Canada to attend day or residential schools (Miller, 1996). For many native children in Canada at the time, the only schools available in this mandatory requirement put forth by the government of Canada, were residential schools. The sole purpose of these schools was blatant assimilation. Native children were separated from their families, deprived of the ability to practice their cultural, deprived from speaking their native languages, and most prevalent in this discussion, were exposed to physical and sexual abuse from those in positions of authority on large scale occurrences. Indian residential schools in Canada were constructed with no other goal, then destroying and dismantling the native cultural in Canada, by specifically targeting the upcoming generation.
This is due to the fact that the last residential school (that we know of) did not close until 1996. Residential schooling was created in order to assimilate the Aboriginal peoples in Canada, in these schools the students would be taken out of their reserve and stripped of their culture; we created an ‘other’ on purpose. What I mean by that is we allowed the government to stipulate a social phenomena of ‘Othering’ creating the opportunity to define in this case the Aboriginal people in Canada as different. This further justified the attempts made (such a... ... middle of paper ... ... speak English. I have heard many more stories like this.
The Canadian and American governments designed a residential school system to assimilate Indigenous children into Western society by stripping them of their language, cultural practices as well as their traditions. By breaking these children’s ties to their families and communities, as well as forcing them to assimilate into Western society; residential schools were a root cause of many social problems, which even persist within Aboriginal communities today. The best theoretical perspective to explain the issue of residential schools is best described by conflict theory. In this particular case Western society involving such institutions as the government and the church are the “ruling class” and the indigenous of Canada and the United States of America are the subject class. The ruling class of Canada and the United States exploited and oppressed the indigenous to assimilate them into western society.
The trauma to which Aboriginal people were exposed in the past by residential schools continues to have major negative effect to the generations to follow. By the 1840s, the attempts by the churches to “civilize” Aboriginal people became a matter of official state policy (Claes and Clifton, 1998). This was an era of westward expansion and the government was anxious to prevent any Aboriginal interference with its colonization plans. Subscribing to an ideology that constructed Aboriginal people as backward and savage, government officials believed assimilation was in the population’s best interests (1998; Culture and Mental Health Research Unit, 2000). For example, in 1847, the chief superintendent of education in Upper Canada indicated in a report to the Legislative Assembly that “education must consist not merely of the training of the mind, but of a weaning from the habits and feelings of their ancestors, and the acquirements of the language, arts and customs of civilized life” (cited in Claes and Clifton, 1998:15).
Through legislature the people with the power, the British, would attempt to civilize First Nations. To assimilate the minority, because just by being so means your cultures and values are less than mine. In the 1820s the colonial administrations first attempt at assimilation took place at Lake Simcoe in Upper Canada. A group of Aboriginals were encouraged to colonial-style village where they’d be taught agriculture and advised to become Christians. Because of poor management, underfunding, a lack of understanding Aboriginals cultures and values, the experiment was a big failure.
Summary Statement – Indian Act The Indian Act was an attempt by the Canadian government to assimilate the aboriginals into the Canadian society through means such as Enfranchisement, the creation of elective band councils, the banning of aboriginals seeking legal help, and through the process of providing the Superintendent General of the Indian Affairs extreme control over the aboriginals, such as allowing the Superintendent to decide who receives certain benefits, during the earlier stages of the Canadian-Indigenous' political interaction. The failure of the Indian Act though only led to more confusion regarding the interaction of Canada and the aboriginals, giving birth to the failed White Paper and the unconstitutional Bill C-31, and the conflict still is left unresolved until this day. The Indian Act is a combination of multiple legislations regarding the Aboriginal people who reside across Canada, such as the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869 (Hanson, n.p.). The Gradual Civilization Act was the Canadian government's attempt to assimilate the aboriginals into the Canadian society in a passive manner, through a method they encouraged called Enfranchisement. Enfranchisement is basically a legal process that allows aboriginals to give up their aboriginal status and accept a Canadian status (Crey, n.p.).
However, in 1917, the Canadian government chose to enforce conscription, or mandatory military service. Native communities reacted very quickly to this news, writing to the government with letters noting that Aboriginals still did not have rights of citizens and should therefore be exempt from conscription. Finally, in January 1918, the cabinet passed an order-in-council absolving Aboriginals from compulsory enlistment. At the beginning of the Great War, Aboriginals were not accepted by the Canadian government for military service, but the Canadian leaders soon came to realize that native men would be a great addition to the service. Regardless of the controversy with enlistment, Aboriginals contributed unexpectedly large numbers of men to fight with Canada during Worl... ... middle of paper ... ...e First World War commenced, Aboriginals were not treated as citizens of Canada and were forbidden from enlisting in the military.
But, to what extent was the purpose of Residential schools rooted in cultural misunderstanding of Aboriginals. I will be looking into the purpose of residential schools being instated, activities that went on in residential schools and the impact left on families because of residential schools. Why did we the Canadian Government have so much hatred towards Aboriginals? Before opening residential schools, the Canadian government believed they were responsible to help teach aboriginal children in Canada English and really bring them away from the aboriginal culture. Also there was so much discrimination against Aboriginals; many times Canadians would say the phrase “Kill the Indians” which showed how much hatred was shown to Aboriginals.
Since time immoral, Aboriginal people and their ancestors have settled and lived in North America. With contact of European settlers, came severe oppression and genocide. Since contact, Aboriginal people have led an uphill battle, fighting with the Canadian government for Aboriginal freedom and equality. Many suggest that Canadians still should be held morally responsible for the crimes committed against our indigenous peoples, such as the implementation of Canadian residential schools and aboriginal sterilization. Others suggest that Canadians can not be held morally responsible for actions committed by those so long ago.