Search for "residential school"

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BC Commits $12 Million to Help First Nations Search More Residential School Sites

The British Columbia government committed $12 million to help First Nations in the province search the grounds of former residential schools for more unmarked children’s graves. Some of the funds were also directed toward mental health supports. The province said it would work with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), Indigenous Services Canada, and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to ensure that the funds went to projects led by First Nations.

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Ryerson University Announces It Will Be Renamed

The board of governors of Ryerson University agreed to accept all 22 recommendations made by the Standing Strong (Mash Koh Wee Kah Pooh Win) Task Force, which was established in December 2020 to “develop principles to guide commemoration at the university and to respond to the history and legacy of Egerton Ryerson within the context of the university’s values.” The recommendations included renaming the school and making materials available on the history and legacy of Egerton Ryerson, one of the architects of Canada’s residential school system.

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Education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

Before contact with Europeans, Indigenous peoples educated their youth through traditional means — demonstration, group socialization, participation in cultural and spiritual rituals, skill development and oral teachings. The introduction of European classroom-style education as part of a larger goal of assimilation disrupted traditional methods and resulted in cultural trauma and dislocation. Reformers of Indigenous education policies are attempting to reintegrate traditional teachings and provide more cultural and language-based support to enhance and improve the outcomes of Indigenous children in the education system.

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Remains of 215 Children Found on Grounds of Kamloops Residential School

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The unmarked graves of 215 children were confirmed through the use of ground penetrating radar on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School — at one time the largest residential school in the country. Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation called the finding an “unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented.”

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Aboriginal Healing Foundation

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation was an Indigenous-led non-profit organization that operated from 1998 to 2014. It was created after the federal government committed $350 million in 1998 to create a “Healing Strategy” to address the legacy of residential schools. The Foundation’s purpose was to foster and support community-based healing initiatives by conducting research and providing funding to various related projects.

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Children Who Didn’t Come Home from Residential Schools Named Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year

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The Canadian Press named “children who didn’t come home from residential schools” as Canada’s Newsmaker of the Year. More than 1,000 unmarked graves on the sites of former residential schools across Western Canada had been confirmed since the first findings at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School were made public on 27 May.

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Children’s Books About Residential Schools in Canada

Church-run schools for Indigenous children were created in Canada in the 1600s. In 1883, the Canadian government funded and helped establish more church-run schools. The goal was to assimilate Indigenous children into the dominant white, Christian society. By the time the last residential school closed in 1996, more than 150,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children had been forced to attend against their will and the wishes of their parents. Many children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused at the schools. Thousands died. The multigenerational social and psychological effects of the schools have been devastating and ongoing. The federal government and churches have apologized for what is now widely considered a form of genocide. (See also Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)

Knowledge of what happened at the schools is an essential part of reconciliation and healing. Many children’s books have been written about residential schools as part of that essential effort. This list includes titles for toddlers to preteens. Together, these books explore a variety of themes related to residential schools, including intergenerational trauma, language revitalization, commemoration and the power of resistance.

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Inuit Experiences at Residential School

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools created to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Schools in the North were run by missionaries for nearly a century before the federal government began to open new, so-called modern institutions in the 1950s. This was less than a decade after a Special Joint Committee (see Indigenous Suffrage) found that the system was ineffectual. The committee’s recommendations led to the eventual closure of residential schools across the country.

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Chanie Wenjack

Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack (born 19 January 1954; died 23 October 1966 near Redditt, ON). Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy from Ontario, ran away from his residential school near Kenora at age 12, and subsequently died from hunger and exposure to the harsh weather. His death in 1966 sparked national attention and the first inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children in Canadian residential schools.

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Residential Schools in Canada Interactive Map

The map below indicates the location of many residential schools in Canada. Click on individual points to learn a school’s name, religious denomination, opening and closing dates, and any other names by which the school was known. This map does not reflect every residential school that operated in the country. It only includes schools listed in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and a similar agreement reached for survivors of schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. This means that schools that operated without the support of the federal government — as in schools run by a province, a religious order, or both — are not included on this map. Day schools, where many Indigenous students experienced treatment similar to that described at residential schools, are also not included.

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Wauzhushk Onigum Nation

Wauzhushk Onigum Nation (pronounced Waa-JUSHK oh-KNEE-gum), commonly referred to as Rat Portage, is an Anishinaabe community based on the north shore of Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario. Wauzhushk Onigum’s primary reserve, Kenora 38B, is 22.3 km2. As of 2021, the First Nation has 802 registered members, 383 of whom live on this reserve. Wauzhushk Onigum is a member of Treaty 3, signed in 1873. The City of Kenora is 3 km northwest and is the closest service hub for the First Nation.

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Peter Henderson Bryce

Peter Henderson Bryce, physician, public health official (born 17 August 1853 in Mount Pleasant, Canada West; died 15 January 1932 at sea). Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce was a pioneer of public health and sanitation policy in Canada. He is most remembered for his efforts to improve the health and living conditions of Indigenous people. His Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories exposed the unsanitary conditions of residential schools in the Prairie provinces. It also prompted national calls for residential school reform.

Click here for definitions of key terms used in this article.

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Lillian Elias

Lillian Elias (whose Inuvialuktun name is Panigavluk) is a teacher, language activist and a residential school Survivor (born 1943 in the Mackenzie Delta, NT). Influenced by her time at residential school, where administrators attempted to forcefully strip her of her language and culture, Elias has spent much of her life promoting and preserving her first language, Inuvialuktun (see Inuvialuit).

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Hundreds of Unmarked Graves Found at Saskatchewan Residential School

One month after the confirmation of 215 unmarked graves at a former residential school in Kamloops, BC, ground-penetrating radar revealed an estimated 751 graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Cowessess First Nation territory, about 150 km east of Regina. The radar search began on 1 June. The Marieval school was open from 1899 to 1997 and was administered by the Catholic Church until 1968.

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Fatty Legs

Fatty Legs (2010) is a memoir about a young Inuvialuit girl’s two years at a religious residential school. It is based on the experiences of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, who cowrote the novel with her daughter-in-law Christy Jordan-Fenton. Published by Annick Press, the book features illustrations by Liz Amini-Holmes and archival photographs from Pokiak-Fenton’s personal collection. Fatty Legs was a finalist for the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize. It received many other nominations and was named one of the 10 best children’s books of the year by the Globe and Mail.

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160+ Unmarked Children’s Graves Found at Another BC Residential School

Penelakut Tribe chief Joan Brown said in a statement that more than 160 “undocumented and unmarked” graves had been found on Penelakut Island, formerly Kuper Island, off the coast of Vancouver Island southeast of Nanaimo. The graves were found at the site of the Kuper Island Industrial School, a residential school run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969 and by the federal government from 1969 until 1975.

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Thousands Attend “Cancel Canada Day” Rally in Ottawa

The annual Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill were replaced this year by a “Cancel Canada Day” rally organized by Idle No More and the Anishinaabe nation. Thousands of people, many of them wearing orange shirts, marched from the offices of Indigenous Services Canada in Gatineau to Parliament Hill, where they gathered to “honour all of the lives lost to the Canadian state.” Flags on Parliament Hill flew at half-mast in honour of the hundreds of dead children that had been found on the sites of former residential schools weeks earlier.

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Truth and Reconciliation Records Added to UNESCO Register

A collection of residential school survivors’ archives, personal stories and pictures held at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg was added to the UNESCO Canada Memory of the World Register. Other collections of similar items from the McCord Stewart Museum in Montreal and the Wallace B. Chung and Madeline H. Chung Collection at the University of British Columbia Library had already been added. Residential school survivor and Orange Shirt Day founder Phyllis Webstad said, “It’s a world recognition that these documents of survivors’ truths are going to be kept for years to come and for future generations.”