One thought on “An Overview Of The Indian Residential School System

  1. Very concise and effective at giving us an overview or “snapshot” of what the Indian residential schools were like. What stood out to me the most was the attitude of Duncan Campbell Scott, Canada’s Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs in 1920, towards indigenous people when he said, “I want to get rid of the Indian problem.” To be honest, before reading this booklet in preparation for The Awakening Project’s Orientation, it never crossed my mind that Canada, the country that we live in and the identity of which multiculturalism is a big part, could make such demeaning comments about specific racial groups. In other words, I find Scott’s quote/statement super racist because he was hinting at the fact that it is wrong to be Indian/indigenous by calling it “the Indian problem.” From this statement, it was very clear why residential schools were established back then. Indeed, in the Government of Canada’s Statement of Apology to Aboriginal Peoples delivered by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, he quoted how Canada wanted “to kill the Indian in the child” through residential schools. Again, this was just another way of saying that it was not OK to be Indian/indigenous… as if it is a thing or quality that is harmful to the child if possessed and thus needs to be rid of… like some sort of disease or parasite. Many white people like Scott had this ideology that indigenous cultures, spiritual beliefs, and pretty much everything about the Aboriginal peoples were inferior to those of the Europeans, so this was the source of motivation for them to get both the Canadian government and some churches involved in assimilating these people into the “main culture” so that they will no longer be a “problem.” Aside from the racist comments, ideologies, and views on indigenous people, I was also quite shocked about how indigenous children were being treated and the ways in which all the rules were being enforced on children at residential schools. Before I read those two sections of the booklet, I was expecting a bit of physical abuse from the staff at residential schools to ensure that the children were following the rules, but definitely not half as harsh as things like using toxic chemicals to clean the hair and skin of these children and inserting needles into tongues for speaking their native language. Everything that was done to these indigenous children was just so inhumane, and to me, it all sounded like medieval torture. However, I was happy to learn that Canada now recognizes that what it has done to its indigenous children at residential schools was wrong, despite the fact that it did take many years to do so.

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