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The Intergenerational Repercussions of Canada’s Indian Residential School SystemAli Hooshmand - 47039599History 111 Professor Mckay
Indian Residential Schools (IRS) were established in Canada throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century under the administration of the Canadian government in coordination with Catholic and Anglican churches. The evolution of these schools until their closure in 1996 highlight one of the darkest developments throughout Canada’s history, as they were often administered in an inhumane and unjust manner. The policy framework that allowed for the implementation of Indian Residential Schools was based on the concept of forced assimilation, which was geared towards ‘killing the Indian in the child’. This process of forced assimilation undertaken by the Canadian government and Christian church organizations throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries constitutes nothing short of cultural genocide, and the many repercussions of the Indian Residential School system are still evident within Indigenous societies today. Numerous researches have attempted to identify a direct causal link between familial attendance at an Indian Residential School and various indicators of social, economic, and cultural hardships endured by Indigenous communities around North America. The abundance of evidence that suggests a direct correlation between the detrimental impact of residential schools and adverse modern day outcomes demonstrate the inherent failures of the IRS. Not only did the Canadian government fail to properly integrate Indigenous communities within the overarching developmental framework of Canadian society, but rather the IRS system has directly contributed to the everlasting presence of intergenerational trauma amongst Indigenous communities today. Although Indian Residential Schools were officially adopted as the Canadian government’s education policy for Aboriginal youth following confederation in 1867, efforts to assimilate the Indigenous peoples of Canada into Judeo-Christian culture hadvebeen present
since the dawn of colonialism and the arrival of European settlers in Canada (Milloy, 2017). Prior to Canada’s confederation, missionary schools were established throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries with the support of colonial governments, which like residential schools were geared towards the assimilation and “civilization” of Indigenous youth (Rose, 2018). Two distinct forms of schools were developed throughout this period, day schools and industrial schools. Day schools were often smaller in size and they were located within or near Indigenous reserves. As these schools were situated close to their homes, students were able to maintain a moderate relationship with their families (Milloy, 2017). In addition, they were also able to retain some level of Indigenous culture, including their language and traditions.