Search for "residential schools"

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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.

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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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Orange Shirt Day

At an event in Williams Lake, British Columbia, in May 2013, the orange shirt was presented as a symbol of Indigenous peoples’ suffering caused by residential schools, which operated from the 1830s to the 1990s. The event led to the annual 30 September Orange Shirt Day as a means of remembrance, teaching and healing. In June 2021, the federal government declared 30 September a national statutory holiday to coincide with Orange Shirt Day. (See also Reconciliation in Canada.)

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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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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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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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Uchucklesaht Tribe

Uchucklesaht is a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation of west Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. According to the tribe, there are 299 Uchucklesaht citizens, only three of whom live in the village of Hilthatis.

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Racism

Racism is a belief that humans can be divided into a hierarchy of power on the basis of their differences in race and ethnicity. With some groups seen as superior to others on the sole basis of their racial or ethnic characteristics. Racism is frequently expressed through prejudice and discrimination. The belief can manifest itself through individuals, but also through societies and institutions.

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Tseshaht (Sheshaht)

The Tseshaht (also Ts’ishaa7ath or Ć̓išaaʔatḥ; formerly Sheshaht) are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation living in Barkley Sound and Alberni Inlet, Vancouver Island, BC. As of September 2018, the federal government counted 1,212 registered members of the Tseshaht First Nation, the majority of whom (728) live off reserve.

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Sixties Scoop

The “Sixties Scoop” refers to the large-scale removal or “scooping” of Indigenous children from their homes, communities and families of birth through the 1960s, and their subsequent adoption into predominantly non-Indigenous, middle-class families across the United States and Canada. This experience left many adoptees with a lost sense of cultural identity. The physical and emotional separation from their birth families continues to affect adult adoptees and Indigenous communities to this day.

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National Indigenous Peoples Day

Celebrated in Canada every 21 June, National Indigenous Peoples Day is an official day of celebration to recognize and honour the heritage, cultures and valuable contributions to society by First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. National Indigenous Peoples Day is the same day as the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) and was chosen for its important symbolism to many Indigenous peoples (see Religion and Spirituality of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.) This day has been celebrated as a statutory territorial holiday in the Northwest Territories since 2001 and in the Yukon since 2017.

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Assembly of First Nations

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a political organization representing approximately 900,000 First Nations citizens in Canada. The AFN advocates on behalf of First Nations on issues such as treaties, Indigenous rights, and land and resources. The AFN's Chiefs assemblies are held at least twice a year, where chiefs from each First Nation pass resolutions to direct the organization’s work. There are over 600 First Nations in Canada.

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Tsimshian

Tsimshian (Tsim-she-yan, meaning “Inside the Skeena River”) is a name that is often broadly applied to Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, speaking languages of the Tsimshian language family. In the 2016 census, 2,695 people reported speaking a Tsimshian language, with the largest concentration (98.1 per cent) living in British Columbia. Another 5,910 people claimed Tsimshian ancestry.

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Central Coast Salish

Central Coast Salish peoples historically occupied and continue to reside in territories around the Lower Fraser Valley and on southeast Vancouver Island in Canada. They include the Squamish, Klallum, Halkomelem and Northern Straits peoples.

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Ethnic Identity

An ethnic group is often a distinct category of the population in a larger society with a (generally) different culture. Distinct ethnic and cultural groups were recorded by Herodotus 2500 years ago.

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Vision Quest

Coined by 19th century anthropologists, the term “vision quest” describes a spiritual journey in various Indigenous cultures in which participants, often adolescents, are said to receive sacred knowledge and strength from the spirit world. Practised as a rite of passage among some Indigenous cultures in North America, such as the Siksika (Blackfoot), Cree, Anishinaabe (including the Ojibwe) and Inuit, vision quests reflect the role of spirituality and contemplative thinking in Indigenous cultures, and provide an important connection between the participant, the Creator and nature. Though reduced as a practice following colonization, vision quests remain part of the cultural traditions of Indigenous populations in Canada in the modern era.

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Ehattesaht

The Ehattesaht are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation that occupies 660 km2 (66,000 hectares) of territory on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A member of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, the Ehattesaht have 539 registered members as of October 2021.