Type: Process Essays
Sample donated: Ann Long
Last updated: September 22, 2019
Residential schools are extremely significant to the history of Canada, as well as the prime minister at the time of these schools, John A Macdonald.
Canada’s first prime minister, John A Macdonald, played a huge role of initiating, supporting, and defending the residential school system in the 19th century. The person ultimately responsible for planning and encouraging the system, its “creator”, is John A Macdonald. In the late 1870s, Macdonald wanted to create an organized school system of federal schools for Indigenous children that could be used to disrupt Indigenous traditions and force aboriginal children into white English culture. Then he asked a friend, Nicholas Flood Davin, to investigate theboarding schools for Indigenous peoples in the United States and determine how it could be done in Canada. Impressed by The aggressive assimilation that was going on in the United States through residential schooling, Nicholas published the report in 1879. Shortly after, John A Macdonald used his recommendation to create residential schools to assimilate aboriginals into white Canadian culture.
In May 1883, John A Macdonald brought the idea of the schools to the House of Commons. He argued, “When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages, he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn toread and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write, the Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” John A Macdonald continued to defend the expansion of the residential school system to all parts of the country, despite many problems with the first schools, including a high number of student deaths, absences from schools, inadequate housing and poor educational conditions.
John a macdonald didn’t know the significance or bad impact these schools would have on the relationship between The First Nations people and the Canadian government. Residential schools are very significant to the history of Canada and indigenous people. the last residential school closed in the 1990’s, so it had been happening for a long time. In that time, there were many tragedies as a result of these schools. Kids were stripped or their families. The kids were given a poor education, had Christianity forced upon them, weren’t allowed to speak their native language, and were forced to do chores for the majority of the day.
Kids who didn’t follow the rules were beaten, and had a death toll of over 4000. Today we still see harsh consequences of Residential schools. There has been a major decrease in aboriginal culture, which is a result of it being removed from their family homes at a young age. We also see many First Nations people in poverty caused by them and their families being put into the schools. The schools ended up not teaching the kids the things they needed to know to get jobs, causing a major poverty cycle in the indigenous community that continues today.
Lastly, Residential schools are very symbolic today. We see Residential schools as symbolic of Canadian racism and discrimination. When we think of Canadian racism and discrimination one of the first things we think of is the schools.
Residential schools are also symbolic of the Canadian governments treatment of aboriginal people and the broken relationship between the government and First Nations people. The Canadian government treats aboriginal people as less than them, and treat them unfairly in events such as the treaties,and the government’s unfulfilled promises towards them. The impacts of the residential school experience are being passed on for generations. Parents who were forced to send their children to theschools had to deal with the devastating effects of separation and total lack of communication or knowledge about how their own child is doing. Many of the children suffered emotional physical an sexual abuse. These children were stripped of their native languages and culture.
This caused additional feelings of alienation, shame and anger that the aboriginal community still feels today. The impact of the schools has alienated generations of Indigenous peoples from their beliefs, traditions and lifestyles. The damages caused by these schools created trauma that continues to a effect Indigenous peoples across Canada today. The Indian Act, first introduced in 1876, gave the Canadian government license to control almost every aspect of Indigenous peoples’ lives. The Act required children to attend residential schools, the majority of which operated after 1880. Residential schools were originally created by Christian churches and the Canadian government (which John A Macdonald lead). The goals of these schools were to ‘civilize’ Indigenous peoples by converting them to Christianity, and to force them into Canadian society through a process of cultural, social, educational, economic and political assimilation. The residential school system that John A Macdonald created has effected an entire culture and the relationship between the government and the First Nations people, they ran from the1870s and the 1990s.
The last Indian residential school closed in 1996.and people today are still effected by it.