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Residential Schools (Genocide)
Transcript of Residential Schools (Genocide)
8 Stages Of Genocide
- Unlike most examples of genocide, the extermination stage in residential schools was not geared towards the destruction of a group of people, but rather the elimination of their culture.
- Aboriginal students placed into residential schools were striped of their identity and forced to assimilate into the dominant culture.
- They had their hair cut short and were dressed in uniforms.
- It was forbidden for Aboriginal students to speak their languages or to practice any of their customs/traditions.
- If any rules were to be violated, they would be severely punished.
- Constant emotional and psychological abuse occurred at residential schools, while physical abuse was used as a form of punishment. Along with that, sexual abuse was common.
- Abuse, overcrowding, poor sanitation, and severely inadequate food/health care resulted in a numerous amount of deaths.
- Although the initial goal of residential schools did not involve the killing of Aboriginal children, it resulted in a shockingly high death toll.
- There is no direct denial as to residential schools happening, but the fact that “Aboriginal culture” was striped from the students tend to be forgotten or pushed aside.
- The main points of focus generally are the dehumanization and polarization stages, rather than the extermination stage of the culture.
- Those who deny that residential schools were harmful to the world altogether, justify their perspective by presenting views such as “at least the Aboriginal children received education.”
- Residential schools presented more negative than positive results.
- The schools weakened the Aboriginal culture greatly, along with family ties.
- In 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought residential schools to the light and formally apologized for Canada’s role in the system.
> “Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”
> “The government now recognizes that the consequences of the Indian residential schools policy were profoundly negative and that this policy has had a lasting and damaging impact on Aboriginal culture, heritage, and language.”
> “The government of Canada sincerely apologizes and asks the forgiveness of the aboriginal peoples of the country for failing them so profoundly.”
- The residential school system separated children from their families and friends.
- It did not allow them to acknowledge their Aboriginal heritage, culture, or language(s).
- Students forced into these schools were assimilated into the dominant culture of the time since theirs was thought to be inferior.
- Residential schools striped Aboriginal children of their cultural identity, and disconnected them from all that they had known growing up.
- Legal guardianship of students was assumed by the principal(s) of the residential school.
- In order to prepare for cultural extermination of Aboriginal culture, amendments to the Indian Act, 1876 in 1884 provided the creation of Indian residential schools.
- Over 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children (ages 4-16) are estimated to have attended residential schools in Canada.
- There were strict rules that ensured children accepted and adapted to the languages, religious beliefs, and ways of life that they were taught at the residential schools.
> For example, students caught speaking their native tongue would be dealt with using extreme abuse such as the puncturing of their tongues with needles.
- Like its name, the preparation stage prepared for the extermination of Aboriginal culture.
- After the processes of classification and symbolization, dehumanization is the next stage.
- Mass violences, sexual abuse, and hatred was directed at the Indigeneous individuals in residential schools.
- Euro-Canadians poisoned water, pilfered lands, and desecrated the students' ancestor's bones/graves.
- Aboriginal people were characterized as savages and therefore, looked at as inferior.
- Along with that, there was the belief that any individual who was not Christian was either an animal or sub-human.
- Duncan Campbell Scott was the Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs and the administrator of the residential school system for Canadian Indigenous people.
- His objective was to continue this system until there was no longer any trace of Aboriginal culture in anyone.
- He wanted to assimilate Aboriginal children into the Euro-Canadian culture by placing them into residential schools.
- A system called the "half-day system" was formed, in which students spent half the day in the classroom and the other at work.
- Residential schools were predominantly funded and operated by the Government of Canada, Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian and United churches.
- Students put into residential schools were distinguished by their ethnicity.
- Society was divided and there was a power struggle between Aboriginals and Euro-Canadians.
- Residential schools cut Indigenous youth from their families, history, culture, and language.
- Under the Indian Act, people who earned a university degree would automatically lose their Indian status.
- Women who married non-status men were no longer classified with their original status.
> Children had their Aboriginal names changed to blend in with the Euro-Canadians at the time.
- Instead of having languages, types of dress, names, or traditions that set them apart from other ethnic groups, students at residential schools were forced to assimilate.
> Residential schools did not allow children to speak their native tongue.
> Traditional ceremonies such as the Sun Dance and Potlatch were banned.
*The Sun Dance was banned because it promoted the Aboriginal culture and transferred titles within the community.
*The Potlatch was banned because people were sharing their belongings rather than improving the economy by investing in goods.