Examining the residential school system in Canada between the 1870s and 1996 exposes numerous human rights and civil liberties violations of individuals by the government. This case study involves both de jure discrimination and de facto discrimination experienced by Aboriginals based on their culture. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms specifically protects Aboriginal rights under section 25 and section 15 declares that, “Every individual is equal before and under the law” (Sharpe & Roach, 2009, p. 307). Human rights and civil liberties of Aboriginal children and parents were ignored and violated by residential schools which were fuelled by government policy, agendas of church organizations, and a public desire to assimilate the native population into Canadian society.
Assimilating the aboriginal population into Canadian society was seen as the best solution to eliminating the costs associated with this segment of society receiving funds for being wards of the state. Once the process of shaping students into ideal citizens has been completed, they would be granted full citizenship and automatically enfranchises them. The removal treaty rights and tribe affiliation would mean that the federal government is no longer faced with the financial burden associated with caring for these peoples (Akhtar, 2010, p. 113). Since children have the potential to easily adapt to situations, they are perfect candidates for socialization programs which ease them into society.
When the policy of aggressive civilization was supported by the Canadian government, public funding became available for the residential school project which involved stripping aboriginal children of their cultur...
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...ess to the issue and recognizing the problems with this policy will help prevent further violations of rights and liberties.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is in place to ensure the citizens of Canada are protected from unreasonable violations by the government. When the assimilation policy was adopted there was no way to determine the far reaching effects that it would have on aboriginal children and their families. Over time societal views change and the policies are directly affected so this kind of human rights violation would be less acceptable. Challenging the status quo can bring about change and bring awareness to a topic that was often overlooked. In a nation which prides it’s self on being a multicultural mosaic, residential schools fuelled by policy, religious organizations and the public should be stricken down permanently.
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