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Ontario

Ontario is a Canadian province bounded by Manitoba to the west, Hudson Bay to the north, Québec to the east, and New York, the Great Lakes, Michigan and Minnesota to the south. The province was founded on parts of the traditional territories of the Ojibwa, Odawa, Potawatomi, Algonquin, Mississauga, Haudenosaunee, Neutral, Wendat, Cree, Oji-Cree and Métis. The land is now governed by 46 treaties, including the Upper Canada, Williams and Robinson treaties, as well as Treaties 3, 5 and 9. As of the 2016 census, Ontario had 13,448,494 residents, making it the most populous province or territory in Canada. Ontario was one of the founding members of Confederation, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Québec, in 1867. The capital city of Ontario is Toronto. Doug Ford is the province’s current premier, leading a majority Progressive Conservative government.

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Resistance and Residential Schools

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that many Indigenous children were forced to attend. They were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Indigenous parents and children did not simply accept the residential-school system. Indigenous peoples fought against – and engaged with – the state, schools and other key players in the system. For the duration of the residential-school era, parents acted in the best interests of their children and communities. The children responded in ways that would allow them to survive. 

Credit: M. Meikle / Library and Archives Canada / PA-101771

Inuit children who lived too far away and had to stay at school during the summer. Anglican Mission School. Credit: M. Meikle / Library and Archives Canada / PA-101771

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Intergenerational Trauma and Residential Schools

Historical trauma occurs when trauma caused by historical oppression is passed down through generations. For more than 100 years, the Canadian government supported residential school programs that isolated Indigenous children from their families and communities (see Residential Schools in Canada). Under the guise of educating and preparing Indigenous children for their participation in Canadian society, the federal government and other administrators of the residential school system committed what has since been described as an act of cultural genocide. As generations of students left these institutions, they returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. This is called intergenerational trauma.

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