Prior to 1840's
no educational policy as the government had little interest in the
education of Natives. There were, however, a handful of schools run by
representatives of missionary organizations, and a few boarding schools
were established in Ontario. The schools were supervised by ill-trained
and poorly paid missionaries. Last on their list of priorities was
addressing the low attendance and academic progress of their Native
The residential school had been
contrived specifically to enable missionaries to meddle with the
character formation and identity of Native children even
though the parents had stressed repeatedly that they wanted education,
Commission set up in 1842 by Governor Sir Charles Bagot
He asserted "after a two-year review of
reserve conditions, that communities were get only in a "half-civilized
state." (Report of the Affairs of Indians in Canada, Journals of the
Legislate assembly on the Province of Canada, 1844) - taken from John
Milloy's, A National Crime, pg. 12.
"The Bagot Commission began the
formulations that brought forward the assimilative policy and eventually
the residential school system. The central rationale of the Commission's
findings was that further progress by communities would be realized only
if the civilizing system was amended to imbue Aboriginal people with the
primarily characteristics of civilization: industry and knowledge."
Milloy, pg. 13.
"Bagot Commission published their
recommendations with two very influential supporters of residential
education. Lord Elgin, the "Father of Responsible Government,...The
Reverend Egerton Ryerson, the Superintendent of Education for Upper
Canada." (Milloy, pg. 15)
"I suggest they be called industrial
schools....I understand them not to contemplate anything more in respect
to intellectual training than to give a plain English education adapted
to the working farmer and mechanic..., but in addition to this,
pupils...are to be taught agriculture, kitchen, gardening and mechanics
so far as mechanics is concerned with making and repairing the most
useful agricultural equipment."
Ryerson believed that "Indians were best suited to being working farmers
and agricultural labourers." (Milloy, pg. 16)
residential schools opened in Upper Canada (Ontario). The federal government
became involved after the results of the results of the Bagot Commission of 1842
were published, and the Gradual
Civilization Act of 1857 was enacted. These documents paved the way for
the establishment of government
funded schools that would teach the Natives English and hopefully
eliminate the Native culture.
"There is a need to raise
the Indians to the level of the whites...and take control of land out of
Indians hands. The Indian must remain under the control of the Federal Crown
rather than provincial authority, that effort to Christianize the
Indians and settle them in communities be continued,....that schools,
preferably manual labour ones, be established under the guidance of
missionaries....Their education must consist not merely training of the
mind, but of a weaning from the habits and feelings of their ancestors,
and the acquirements
of the language, art and customs of civilized
(Excerpt from a report on the study of Native education commissioned by
the Assistant Superintendent General of Indian Affairs. It
would form the basis for future directions in
policy for Indian education and how the residential schools were to be
run in Ontario.)
Although the report containing
the above quote appears to be common knowledge, there does not seem to
be an actual publication of it. Even the Ryerson University archives
does not have it. If any gentle reader can offer enlightenment, send an
applied to all Indians in the Province of Canada; they were an
affirmation of legislative control over Indians. The legislation stated
it was shouldering the responsibility and authority to define who was an
Indian as a preliminary to making it feasible for the Indian to cease
being an Indian. Part of the process was forcing Native children into
gave further responsibility to the federal government for Native
Federal Government builds
Industrial Schools far away from reserves to ensure children would be
educated in European ways, without parental or cultural influence - Sir
Hector Langevin preaches that, "if these schools are to succeed [in
terms of integration] we must not place them too near the bands; in
order to educate the children properly we must separate them from their
families." (J. Ennamorato, Sing the Brave Song, pg. 47).
the Indian and Save the Man,” was the motto coined by Captain Richard
Henry Pratt, who founded the first Native American Boarding School,
Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania and was the architect of Native
education and federal Native policy. The purpose of the Native
American Boarding schools was to assimilate Native American children
into the American culture by placing them in institutions where they
were forced to reject their Native American culture.
considerable denominational rivalry among the Anglican, Catholic,
Methodist and Presbyterian churches. One Anglican referred to the Ojibwa
as biased: "Their prejudices are so much warped in favour of the
Catholics....they received the crucifix, beads and other
mummeries...[and] instead of the gospel...they pray in the same manner
as they formerly did to their medicine bags."
(J. Ennamorato, Sing the Brave Song, Pg.
Native children from the home and villages to be instructed in
Christianity is now well established. More often than not children were
kidnapped without the knowledge of the parents. The bulk of the
so-called educational experience in the schools, however, was manual
labour rather than scholastic. Children worked mostly in the fields,
laundries or shops (a concept borrowed from the United States Residential
School system) and barely had a grade six education by the time they
of the most heinous kinds at the hands of
priests and nuns were commonplace, spiritually and emotionally
damaging generations of Native children. We are still paying for these
atrocities to the present day with family and substance abuse five times
the national average.
order-in-council was passed in 1892 announcing the regulations for the
operation of residential schools. It set up a grant arrangement stating
that the government would give $110-$145 per student per year to the
church-run schools and $72 per student in the day schools. Little of
this money actually went into hiring competent, compassionate and
Public School History of Canada:
"All Indians were superstitious,
having strange ideas about nature. They thought that birds,
beasts....were like men. Thus an Indian has been known to make a long
speech of apology to a wounded bear. Such were the people whom the
pioneers of our own race found lording it over the North American
continent – this untamed savage of the forest who could not bring
himself to submit to the restraints of European life."
amendments to the Indian Act which made it easier for the government to
obtain convictions for "spiritual mis-behaviour.
of Schools peaks: Eighty schools: one in Nova Scotia, thirteen in
Ontario, ten in Manitoba, fourteen in Saskatchewan, twenty in Alberta,
sixteen in British Columbia, four in the Northwest Territories, and two
in the Yukon. In addition, two schools are planned for Quebec.
residential schools were built on flat land and in remote areas (prairies)
making escape difficult; children could be seen for miles, hunted down and
brought back by the Indian Agents.
Indian children, half the student population were enrolled in
seventy-six residential schools across the country. In 1930,
three-quarters of Indian students were in grades one to three, and only
three in every hundred students progressed past grade six.
Students were discouraged by
school officials to go on to higher grades and were often ordered out of
the school by age sixteen. At a residential school in northwestern
Ontario, a federal inspector admonished the administrator for offering
grades nine, by saying,
"If we let the Indian people go to grade
nine then they’ll want to go to grade ten, and then they’ll want to
go to university, that’s what we don’t want."
educated because it was thought that if Native male residential school
graduates married unschooled Native females they would simply revert
back to their prior ‘heathenism’. (Also called, 'The Blame it on Eve
for Everything Syndrome!')
begins to shift. Understatement of the century: Residential schools were not accomplishing their
purpose of cultural assimilation and some thought that the Natives
should not be taught to compete with whites but should be taught
to make a living on the reserve. The DIA begins to phase out the
residential schools because they realized a new approach was needed
towards Natives. Drug and alcohol abuse were on the rise and were directly
attributed to the appalling conditions, sexual abuse and slavery endured
by Native captives.
federally-operated residential school is closed (Akaitcho Hall in
Yellowknife). It is estimated that
more than 100,000 Native children aged six and up attended the national
network of residential schools from 1930 until the last one closed.
seven residential schools remaining, all of them administered by bands.
4,500 lawsuits have been launched representing at least 9,000 claimants
who allege physical or sexual abuse in the now defunct schools run by
Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian church groups for the
The suits threaten the financial viability of some of the Churches. For
and Church organizations, including the St. Paul Diocese, are facing up
to $195 million in damages in lawsuits filed on behalf of 230 former
Native students of the Blue Quills Residential School.
The suit also
names the Oblates, the Grey Nuns, the Attorney General of Canada and the
Roman Catholic Church as defendants. It alleges that the Native people
suffered abuse and, "brutal, inhumane and cruel treatment"
while they were students at the school in St. Paul.
While many of the allegations
contained in the court documents are of a general nature, more than 20
individuals, both lay and religious, are named in connection with
specific allegations." By Jay Charland, Staff Writer Edmonton.
Michael Peers issues an
apology on behalf of the United Church, to the
National Native Convocation in Minaki, Ont., Friday, Aug. 6, 1993.
He had spent several days listening to the pain and brokenness of Native
"I have felt shame and humiliation as I have heard of
inflicted by my people, and as I think of the part our church played in
that suffering. I am deeply conscious of the sacredness of the stories
that I have heard and I hold in the highest honour those who have told
them. I am sorry more than I can say that we were part of a system which
took you and your children from home and family. I am sorry more than I
can say that we tried to remake you in our image by taking from you your
language, and your signs of identity. I know how often you have heard
words which have been empty because they have not been accompanied by
actions. I pledge to you my best efforts, and our church at the national
level to walk with you on the path of God's healing."
The apology was accepted
on behalf of those present by Elder, Vi Smith. The grace showed by the
Indigenous people in their forgiveness lifted the church from bended
knee. Now it is up to both parties to try and walk together.
Royal Commission Report on Aboriginal People
It is a far-reaching, comprehensive message of reconciliation between Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Part of the breakdown in this
relationship, is described in the RCAP report as the cultural
superiority and policy of assimilation that finds expression in the
Indian Residential Schools. The report is a sweeping condemnation of the
attitudes and behaviour of the federal government.
major reforms which to this day have been largely ignored by the Federal
of this report was acted on despite intense lobbying by Native groups.
January 8, 1998
The Canadian Government
through the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs apologized to the
country's 1.5 million Indigenous people for decades of mistreatment that
include attempts to stamp out Native culture and assimilate Indians and
mixed race people. Minister of Indian Affairs Jane Stewart reads a
''Statement of Reconciliation'' that acknowledges the damage done to the
Native population - including the hanging of Louis Riel after he led a
rebellion of Indian and mixed-race people in western Canada in 1885. The
government apology stops short of pardoning Riel, something Indigenous
leaders have demanded for decades. Stewart does, however, apologize for
the government's assimilation policies.
''Attitudes of racial and cultural
superiority led to a suppression of aboriginal culture and values,"
she says. ''As a country, we are burdened by past actions that resulted in
weakening the identity of aboriginal peoples, suppressing their languages
and cultures, and outlawing spiritual practices.
We must recognize the impact of these
actions on the once self-sustaining nations that were dis-aggregated,
disrupted, limited or even destroyed by the dispossession of traditional
territory, by the relocation of aboriginal people, and by some provisions
of the Indian Act. The time has come to state formally that the days of
paternalism and disrespect are behind us and we are committed to changing
the nature of the relationship between aboriginal and non-aboriginal
people in Canada.''
A $350 million dollar Healing Fund is
created. Most First Nations do not believed that this sum is anywhere
close to compensating them for the damage to Native societies; the money
does not include off-reserve Natives, Inuit or Métis. To date little of
the money has found its way into the hands of the survivors.
Although it was referred to as
Canada Apologizes, the apology was not given by the chief representative
of the government, the
Prime Minister. This is
significant. If he had, it would have been an admission of culpability
and the lawsuit settlements would have skyrocketed.
Money? The hearts and healing of the Original
People? Money? The hearts and healing of the Original People? -
1998 - APOLOGY from the United
Church of Canada
deepest reaches of your memories, you have
shared with us your stories of suffering
from our church's involvement in the
operation of Indian Residential Schools. You
have shared the personal and historic pain
that you still bear, and you have been
vulnerable yet again. You have also shared
with us your strength and wisdom born of the
life-giving dignity of your communities and
traditions and your stories of survival.
to our church's commitment to repentance, I
spoke these words of apology on behalf of
the General Council Executive on Tuesday,
October 27, 1998:
"As Moderator of The United
Church of Canada, I wish to speak the words that many people
have wanted to hear for a very long time. On behalf of The
United Church of Canada, I apologize for the pain and
suffering that our church's involvement in the Indian
Residential School system has caused. We are aware of some
of the damage that this cruel and ill-conceived system of
assimilation has perpetrated on Canada's First Nations
peoples. For this we are truly and most humbly sorry.
To those individuals who
were physically, sexually, and mentally abused as students
of the Indian Residential Schools in which The United Church
of Canada was involved, I offer you our most sincere
apology. You did nothing wrong. You were and are the victims
of evil acts that cannot under any circumstances be
justified or excused. We know that many within our
church will still not understand why each of us must bear
the scar, the blame for this horrendous period in Canadian
history. But the truth is, we are the bearers of many
blessings from our ancestors, and therefore, we must also
bear their burdens."
Our burdens include
dishonouring the depths of the struggles of First Nations
peoples and the richness of your gifts. We seek God's
forgiveness and healing grace as we take steps toward
building respectful, compassionate, and loving relationships
with First Nations peoples. We are in the midst of a long
and painful journey as we reflect on the cries that we did
not or would not hear, and how we have behaved as a church.
As we travel this difficult road of repentance,
reconciliation, and healing, we commit ourselves to work
toward ensuring that we will never again use our power as a
church to hurt others with attitudes of racial and spiritual
We pray that you will hear
the sincerity of our words today and that you will witness
the living out of our apology in our actions in the future."
The Right Rev. Bill Phipps
Moderator of The United Church of Canada
July 1999 - Front page of the Globe and Mail, Erin Anderssen, Reporter
Lawyers swoop to
cash in on Native claims
Leaders worry the suffering of
residential-school victims is exploited by fees as high as 40 per cent
Article is about how
"Residential-school claims have become a burgeoning industry for
Canada's legal profession, with a lot of money to be made" specifically
the article deals with the Peigan First Nation... the article continues
on A7 under the title: "Some lawyers cashing in, native say", the
article says that the Law Society of Saskatchewan has passed a new
"...that prevents its members
from holding meetings in communities unless they are invited by
prospective clients, and requires them to mark all documents sent to
solicit business as "advertising material." ... and forbids lawyers
to settle fee arrangements until they meet with each clie
May 28, 2000 -
Archbishop Michael Peers issues a pastoral letter: "Resulting from
abuse in the residential schools there are over 1,600 claims of varying
kinds brought against the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada.
About one hundred cases involve proven abuse of children, with the
perpetrators given prison sentences. The costs of litigation and
settlements for these alone is sufficient to exhaust all the assets of the
General Synod and of some dioceses involved." The Anglican Church may
have to declare bankruptcy. Not going to happen as a result of a deal
struck between the Church and the State which limits the amount of
compensation to survivors!
Federal government names The General Synod of the Anglican Church
by third party action in 386 residential school cases. Similarly, the
government also involves a number of Roman Catholic dioceses in
residential school abuse trials, even though residential schools were
operated by separately incorporated Orders within the church.
Assembly of First Nations Chief Matthew Coon Come attended
the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in South Africa. He
embarrassed the Canadian government by telling delegates of the hundreds
of years of suffering Native people have experienced at the hands of the
Canadian government. Unrepentant Coon Come says, "I was not there to
paint a rosy picture. That is not my job." Six weeks later, in
retaliation, DIAND Minister, Robert Nault slashed the AFNs budget from
twenty-one million dollars to ten million dollars, causing the layoff of
over seventy employees. Matthew Coon Come is no longer a hero to the
The Presbyterian Church and the federal government have agreed to terms
that limit the church's liability for residential lawsuits to $2.1
million. The agreement paves the way for settling outstanding claims by
former students who were abused.
September 9, 2000
The head of the Federal Bureau of
Indian Affairs formally apologized yesterday for the agency's "legacy
of racism and inhumanity" that included massacres, relocations and
the destruction of Indian languages and cultures.
‘By accepting this legacy, we accept
also the moral responsibility of putting things right," Kevin Over, a
Pawnee Indian, said in an emotional speech marking the agency's 175th
With tears in his eyes,
Mr. Over apologized
on behalf of the BIA, but not the federal government as a whole. He is the
highest-ranking U.S. official ever to make such a statement regarding the
treatment of American Indians. "This agency participated in the ethnic
cleansing that befell the Western tribes," he said. "This agency
set out to destroy all things Indian. The legacy of these misdeeds haunts
President did not apologize, and in terms of cold hard cash resulting
from lawsuits this is also
March - "They are waiting for us to
officials say they are moving faster to compensate those abused in Indian
residential schools, but critics warn victims caught in a sluggish
process are dying off.
Gabe Mentuck, 73, said his claim
has dragged on for six years and he charged the government is "just
waiting for us to die." He is claiming compensation for abuse that
occurred at the Pine Creek Residential School in northern Manitoba in
Note: the recent apology by Prime Minister
Harper to the Chinese Canadians (June 22, 2006) as a result of the
racist head-tax imposed on them was timed when there are so very few
survivors left. The head-tax was levied against almost 9,000 Chinese,
now there are less than 20 still alive. One cannot help but
conclude that much the same cynicism is being levied against Native
residential school survivors.
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (INRSSA)
This was the
largest class action case in Canada's History. The Settlement
Agreement received Court approval on March 21,
2007 with the full support of all parties involved:
Government of Canada, Legal Counsel for former students; Legal Counsel
for Churches, and the Assembly of First Nations. For details keep
RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT (INRSSA):
THE PAINFUL STORY COMES TO A LEGAL END
March 21, 2007
This was the
largest class action case in Canada's History. The Settlement
Agreement received Court approval on March 21,
2007 with the full support of all parties involved:
Government of Canada, Legal Counsel for former students; Legal Counsel
for Churches, and the Assembly of First Nations.
period ran for 150 days ensuring that those affected by the INRSSA were
informed of the components of the Agreement and how their legal rights
may be affected. Approximately 340 former students opted out.
Implementation began September 19, 2007 and includes the following:
Common Experience Payment (CEP)
to be paid to all eligible former students who resided at
a recognized Residential School. This is a lump sum payment that
recognizes the Residential School experience resulted in loss of
culture, language, etc. Upon verification each person will
receive $10,000 for the first year or part thereof and an
additional $3,000.00 for each subsequent year or partial
thereof. Average payment is estimated to be $28,000.
Former Students can submit applications: to a centralized
processing centre; to receive the application packaged, call:
1-866-699-1742; TTY 1-800-926-9105. Payment can be by cheque or
direct deposit. Former students DO NOT
NEED copies of their school records to apply for the
Independent Assessment Process (IAP)
an adjudicative process which provides individuals
with compensation for sexual and physical abuse. legal advice is
recommended before proceeding. $960 million has been allocated
to pay for claims settled under IAP. Maximum payment is
$275,000. Actual income loss may be compensated up to a maximum
IMPORTANT NOTE: Former
students can apply for both IAP and CEP.
Establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Indian Residential Support Health System
is a $96 million to support emotional health and wellness
services. If eligible to receive CEP, you are eligible for the
health services which includes the following: Professional
counselling services; Assistance with cost of transportation to
counselling services and/or Elders not in home community;
Emotional support provided by Resolution Health Support Workers;
Cultural support provided by Elders.
The list of one hundred and thirty (130)
recognized Residential Schools is available at:
residential school is not on the list it may be added if it
meets the criteria.
The first payment was made to
Mary Moonias, a teacher from the Louis Bull
First Nation in Alberta on October 4, 2007.
spent ten years in a residential school.
receiving the payment she said:
"Let's celebrate that were here, that we survived . Let's learn to
talk about our pain and move on. I want my people to move on."
legal conclusion, opens the way for an official apology from
the Prime Minister of Canada, June 11, 2008.
JUNE 11, 2008
MINISTER HARPER ON BEHALF OF THE
CANADIAN GOVERNMENT OFFERS A FULL APOLOGY!
As is expected, the apology receives a mixed reception from the
Indigenous victims. Overall, however, it is agreed that the apology
which was a long time in coming, was needed in order to help with
the healing process.
The Catholic Church, the biggest
religious perpetrator has never apologized! As the Dene Elders say, "Tomorrow
will be better."
approximately 80,000 residential school survivors with an average
age over 65.