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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Métis Experiences at Residential School

Although the first residential schools in Canada were established with the intention of assimilating First Nations children into Euro-Canadian culture, Métis and Inuit children were also institutionalized in such facilities. Métis children experienced similar day-to-day conditions to those of other students in residential schools, but they were often considered “outsiders” by their peers and administrators. This perception affected their experiences within these institutions in particular ways.


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Egerton Ryerson

Adolphus Egerton Ryerson, Methodist minister, educator (born 24 March 1803 in Charlotteville Township, Norfolk County, Upper Canada; died 18 February 1882 in Toronto, Ontario). Egerton Ryerson was a leading figure in education and politics in 19th century Ontario. He helped found and edit the Christian Guardian (1829) and served as president of the Methodist Church of Canada (1874–78). As superintendent of education in Canada West, Ryerson established a system of free, mandatory schooling at the primary and secondary level — the forerunner of Ontario’s current school system. He also founded the Provincial Normal School (1847), which eventually became the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). Ryerson also served as principal of Victoria College, which he helped found in 1836 as the Upper Canada Academy. He was also, however, involved in the development of residential schools in Canada. This has led to increasing calls to rename Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University) and other institutions named in his honour.

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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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Joseph Francis Dion

Joseph Francis Dion, Métis leader, political organizer, and teacher (born 2 July 1888 near Onion Lake, SK; died 21 December 1960 in Bonnyville, AB). Dion was central to the shaping of modern Indigenous political organizations on the Prairies. He became a farmer (1903) and teacher on the Kehewin reserve (1916-40). In the 1930s he worked with Jim Brady and  Malcolm Norris  to found what is now the Métis Nation of Alberta (1932; president, 1932-58) and the Indian Association of Alberta (1939). Serving in the executives of First Nations, Métis and Roman Catholic Church organizations, he travelled, lectured, recorded living traditions (published as  My Tribe the Crees, 1979) and managed a Métis dance troupe. A relatively conservative reformer, Dion promoted the idea of Indigenous self-help through local agricultural development and the preservation of traditional culture.

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Laure Gaudreault

Laure Gaudreault, teacher, unionist, journalist (b at La Malbaie, Qué 25 Oct 1889; d at Clermont, Qué 19 Jan 1975). Gaudreault attended the École normale Laval and then taught in Québec village grade schools.

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Sir George Robert Parkin

Sir George Robert Parkin, educator (b at Salisbury, NB 8 Feb 1846; d at London, Eng 25 June 1922). In his own words, the "wandering evangelist of Empire," Parkin was a successful teacher at New Brunswick high schools

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Myrtle Guerrero

Myrtle Guerrero (b Rose, later m Knox-Leet). Educator, b North Battleford, Sask, 5 Aug 1906, d Oakville, Ont, 11 Aug 1995; ATCM 1939. After private studies 1917-28 in Lethbridge, Alta, she continued her training 1928-32 at the TCM, where her piano teachers were Peter C. Kennedy and Alberto Guerrero.

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G. Roy Fenwick

G. (George) Roy Fenwick. Educator, writer, adjudicator, broadcaster, b Hamilton, Ont, 11 May 1889, d Ottawa 8 Jul 1970; LTCM 1911, B MUS (Toronto) 1927, D MUS (Montreal) 1950. His mother was Maggie Barr, a Scottish soprano.

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James Laughlin Hughes

James Laughlin Hughes, educator, author (b near Bowmanville, Ont 20 Feb 1846; d at Toronto 3 Jan 1935), elder brother of Sir Sam HUGHES. Educated at Toronto Normal School, he became principal of its associated Model School at age 24.

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Walter Currie

Walter Currie, teacher, administrator (b at Chatham, Ontario 1 Oct 1922). He was among the earliest activists in Indigenous educational reform during the period after the Second World War.

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Natalie Kuzmich

Natalie (Olga) Kuzmich (b Belz). Educator, producer, adjudicator, b Toronto 22 May 1932; B MUS music education (Toronto) 1954, MA musicology (Toronto) 1968.

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Robert Stangeland

Robert (Alan) Stangeland. Teacher, administrator, pianist, b Chicago 18 Nov 1930, naturalized Canadian 1969; B MUS (Miami) 1952, M MUS (Eastman School of Music [ESM], Rochester) 1953, DMA (ESM, Rochester) 1963.

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Lois Choksy

Lois (b Dowell) Choksy. Teacher, administrator, b Baltimore, Md, 30 Jun 1928, naturalized Canadian 1983; B SC music education (Peabody Cons) 1958, M SC music education (Wisconsin) 1962, Kodály certificate (Liszt Academy, Budapest) 1971, certificate in aesthetics (Massachusetts) 1972.

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George Ziegler

George (Henry) Ziegler. Teacher, bandmaster, organist-choirmaster, b. Berlin (Kitchener), Ont, 1 Aug 1889, d. there 22 Oct 1981; LTCM piano 1909, ATCM organ 1912. He played in the Ziegler Family Orchestra and at 13 became the youngest member of the Berlin Musical Society Band.

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The Underground Railroad (Plain-Language Summary)

The Underground Railroad was a secret organization. It was made up of people who helped African Americans escape from slavery in the southern United States. The people in this organization set up a system of routes that escaped slaves could travel to find freedom in the northern United States and Canada. In the 1800s (the 19th century) between 30,000 and 40,000 escaped slaves travelled to British North America (Canada) through the Underground Railroad.

(This article is a plain-language summary of the Underground Railroad in Canada. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry on The Underground Railroad.)

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Lloyd Slind

Lloyd Slind (Hilmer). Educator, b Dahlton, near Saskatoon, 21 Jun 1910, d Vancouver 2 Jan 2004; B SC (Saskatchewan) 1933, B MUS (Montreal) 1947, LRSM 1948, D ED (Florida State) 1955.