As an aboriginal issue, residential schools are felt by aboriginal and non-aboriginal people alike as one of the great injusitces that the Government of Canada has perpetrated on its own people. Administered jointly by Canadian churches and the federal government, residential schools became official Canadian policy for the education of Indian children. Speaking no English, having never ridden in a car or truck, having never eaten anything other than meat, fish, bannock and perhaps the occasional sweet treat, aboriginal children as young as six left the world of their families and were sent into the unfamiliar world of the white man.
Children were usually rounded up in August and transported by train, plane or bus to the residential schools. They were separated from their brothers, sisters and friends and herded together according to age level. They were issued clothes and assigned a bed number. Even though many of the children could not speak any English, the supervisors spoke only English to them. The children were, in fact, punished for speaking their native languages. For as long as a year, and occasionally for several years, children were unable to express to anyone in authority what their basic needs were. Loneliness, sickness, confusion and abuse were common. Some students experienced sexual abuse and violence.
aboriginal issues, poverty, racism, violence, victims rights
CONTEMPORARY ABORIGINAL ISSUES: RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS - schoolnet.ca