Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture.
January 01, 1831
The Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Upper Canada, became Canada’s first residential school. At first, the school only admitted boys. Girls were admitted in 1834.
January 01, 1844
The Bagot Commission proposed that separating Indigenous children from their parents was the best way to achieve assimilation. The commission also recommended that the Mohawk Institute be considered a model for other industrial schools.
January 01, 1857
The Gradual Civilization Act
The Gradual Civilization Act required male Status Indians and Métis over the age of 21 to read, write and speak either English or French, and to choose a government-approved surname. The Act awarded 50 acres of land to any “sufficiently advanced” Indigenous male, and in return removed any tribal affiliation or treaty rights.
January 01, 1867
Under the Constitution Act (British North America Act), Indians and land reserved for Indians were made a federal responsibility, as was education.
January 01, 1883
Residential Schools Authorized
Sir John A. Macdonald authorized the creation of residential schools in the West based on the recommendations of the 1879 Davin Report.
January 01, 1884
Creation of Residential Schools
Amendments to the Indian Act of 1876 provided for the creation of Indian residential schools, funded and operated by the Government of Canada and Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and United churches. The Canadian government also banned traditional Indigenous ceremonies.
January 01, 1896
Forty-five residential schools were in operation across Canada. Each school was provided with an allowance per student, which led to overcrowding and an increase in diseases within the institutions.
January 01, 1907
Health at Residential Schools
After visiting 35 residential schools, Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, chief medical officer for Canada’s Department of the Interior and Indian Affairs (1904–21), revealed that Indigenous children were dying at alarming rates. Bryce suggested the mortality rate could be as high as 42 per cent.
January 01, 1920
Residential Schools Become Mandatory
Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, Duncan Campbell Scott, made attendance at residential school mandatory for every Indian child between 7 and 16 years of age.
January 01, 1922
The Story of a National Crime Published
Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce published The Story of a National Crime, exposing the government’s suppression of information on the health of Indigenous peoples. Bryce argued that Duncan Campbell Scott and the ministry of Indian Affairs neglected Indigenous health needs, and noted a “criminal disregard for the treaty pledges.”
January 01, 1930
Canadian Residential Schools
During the 1930s, the Indian residential school system had a network of 80 to 90 schools with an enrolment of over 17,000.
January 01, 1955
Residential School System Expands
The federal government expanded the system of residential schools and hostels to Inuit in the far north.
January 01, 1960
The Sixties Scoop
As residential schools closed, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families by provincial and federal social workers and placed in foster or adoption homes. Often, these homes were non-Indigenous. Some children were even placed outside of Canada.
November 17, 1966
Coroner’s Inquest Into Charlie Wenjack’s Death
A coroner’s inquest into Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack’s death was held. The jury report recognized that “The Indian education system causes tremendous emotional & adjustment problems for these children.” They recommended, “A study be made of the present Indian education & philosophy. Is it right?”
January 01, 1969
Department of Indian Affairs Responsible for Residential Schools
The agreement between the churches and the Canadian government comes to an end, with the Department of Indian Affairs assuming responsibility for the remaining schools. The transfer of a few schools to local bands begins.
January 01, 1979
Twelve residential schools were still operating in Canada, with 1,200 children attending. The Department of Indian Affairs evaluated the schools and created a series of initiatives. Among them was a plan to make the school administration more culturally aware of the needs of Indigenous students.
October 30, 1990
Phil Fontaine’s Testimony of Abuse at Residential Schools
Head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Phil Fontaine, spoke publicly of the abuse he suffered at residential school. He gave a number of media interviews, outlining the abuse and calling for a public inquiry.
August 26, 1991
Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney initiates the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, with seven commissioners. The report is completed in 1996.
January 01, 1996
Last Residential School Closes
The last federally-run facility, Gordon Residential School, closed in Punnichy, Saskatchewan.
November 21, 1996
Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples
The Final Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples recommended a public inquiry into the effects residential schools have had on subsequent generations. The 4,000-page document made 440 recommendations calling for changes in the relationship between Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous peoples, and governments in Canada.
January 01, 2007
Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement
The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement provided compensation to survivors of residential schools. All survivors received the Common Experience Payment, based on the number of years they attended residential school. Claims of sexual and physical abuse were assessed on a case-by-case basis.
June 01, 2008
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
The Canadian government authorized the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to document the truth and inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools.
June 11, 2008
Apology to Former Residential Schools Students
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada, delivered a formal apology in the House of Commons to former students, their families, and communities for Canada's role in the operation of residential schools. The apology recognized the profoundly damaging and lasting impact the schools had on Aboriginal culture, heritage and language. Some criticized the speech saying that it specifically excluded from the apology the students of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
June 16, 2010
First National Truth and Reconciliation Event
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada hosted its first national event, in Winnipeg, MB. It explored the history of the residential schools system, the experience of former students and their families and the impact such institutions had on Aboriginal communities. Six more events followed in cities around the country, with a national closing ceremony in Ottawa.
March 27, 2014
Final National Truth and Reconciliation Event
The seventh and final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) took place over three days in Edmonton, Alberta. The TRC sought to provide opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to share their experiences at residential schools.
May 26, 2014
Residential School Monument in Winnipeg
A monument to honour the survivors of residential schools was unveiled in Winnipeg, MB, near the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Aboriginal children into Euro-Canadian culture. Since the last residential school closed in 1996, former students have pressed for recognition and restitution, resulting in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007.
June 02, 2015
Summary Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released the summary of its final report on the residential school system and the experiences of its survivors, characterizing Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal people as "cultural genocide." The report put forward 94 recommendations aimed at repairing relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada—relations that have suffered deeply from the legacy of more than a century of assimilationist policies and human rights violations.
November 03, 2015
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Opens
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, a permanent archive of materials, documents and testimonies on residential schools gathered during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, opened at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Both the centre and the commission were created by the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
December 15, 2015
Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Released
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future, its final report on the residential school system and the experiences of its survivors, in which Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal people is characterized as "cultural genocide." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who attended the ceremonial release of the report, committed his government to implementing all of the 94 recommendations set out in the June 2015 summary report. The recommendations are aimed at repairing relations between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada — relations that have suffered deeply from the legacy of more than a century of assimilationist policies and human rights violations.
May 30, 2016
Premier Wynne Issues Residential Schools Apology
In response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne formally apologized for the abuses committed against Indigenous peoples in the residential school system, as well as for the oppressive policies and practices supported by past Ontario governments. The province announced a $250-million, three-year investment in a number of initiatives aimed at reconciliation.
November 24, 2017
Trudeau issues Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools apology
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to survivors of residential schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. They were excluded from Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology because residential schools there were not run by the federal government and were established before Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949. Survivor Toby Obed, who was instrumental in the class-action lawsuit against the federal government, accepted Trudeau’s apology on behalf of his community. However, Greg Rich, Innu Nation Grand Chief, refused Trudeau’s apology, saying it was too narrow.