Between 1883 and 1996, the Canadian Indian residential school system removed 150,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children from their homes, families, communities, and culture—often forcibly—in an effort to “civilize and Christianize” Indigenous children by assimilating them into dominant society. This exposed a significant number of Indigenous children to poor living conditions as well as physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
The final residential school was shuttered only slightly more than 20 years ago—which many Canadians don’t realize—but the lasting effects of more than 100 years of trauma continues to affect survivors and their families intergenerationally.
The legacy of the residential school system can be clearly seen in the continued and “significant educational, income, and health disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians—disparities that condemn many Aboriginal people to shorter, poorer, and more troubled lives.”
In 2008, the Canadian government established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to inquire into residential schools and the lasting negative legacy they have had on former students, their children and families, their culture, and on all Canadians.
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission spoke to thousands of survivors and found that what took place in residential schools in Canada amounted to cultural genocide of Indigenous Peoples.”
In 2015, the TRC issued its final report that included 94 Calls To Action. The report called upon governments, institutions, other change-makers, and the public to act to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples.
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