Psychological Damage Inflicted By The Residential School System

2334 words - 10 pages

First Nations children suffered many forms of abuse at the hands of the Canadian Government (Oh, Canada!) under the guise of residential schools. The purposes of the residential schools were to remove First Nations children from the influence of their families and cultures, and to intergrade them into the dominant culture (The Residential School System). This was done under the assumption that First Nations culture was lesser, “to kill the Indian in the child” as it was commonly said. The children were forcibly separated from their families to live in year-round schools where they were taught “white man” curriculum, with a two-month vacation time, completely separated from their Aboriginal heritage and forbidden from speaking their own languages (The Residential School System). If these rules, along with many others, were broken the punishments were severe (Oh, Canada!). Residential school survivors spoke of their horrible abuse during their time at the schools, including: sexual, physical and psychological (The Psychological and Intergenerational Impacts of the Indian Residential School System). The students received an inferior education, usually only taught up to grade five, training them for manual labor jobs (The Residential School System). The residential school system undermined First Nations culture and disrupted families for generations, leaving severe psychological damage in not only the survivors but also their families and the following generations (The Psychological and Intergenerational Impacts of the Indian Residential School System). Many students grew up without experiencing a family life, never gaining the experience and knowledge necessary to raise a family of their own. The effects of the schools were far reaching and continue to have an impact on First Nations communities.
The residential schools were first suggested in 1844 as a way of civilizing the First Nations people (Oh, Canada!). The government, the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Methodist Church, and the Presbyterian Church came together to “educate the Aboriginal Canadians (The Residential School System).” In 1920, attendance at the schools became mandatory; any children between the ages of six and fifteen could be forcibly removed from their families (The Psychological and Intergenerational Impacts of the Indian Residential School System) damaging the children, and their families irreparably. The most important thing to either of them was torn away and returned damaged, if returned at all. Jose Amaujaq writes about his childhood, spending every day playing with his “soul mate” Cyril until he was taken from his family and after when he returns home for the summer. “Going home after being away for ten months brought thoughts of puppies, little sister, mother and father, and of course Cyril. But the truth is that one can never really go home again (Jose Amaujaq Kusugak 2011).” Nothing was the same for him after his time in the residential school. He...

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