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Home / An Overview of Residential Schools in Canada (Elementary Version)

An Overview of Residential Schools in Canada (Elementary Version)

Catalogue Number:  MCI082
Producer:  McIntyre Media Inc.
Subject:  Canadian History, Canadian Social Studies, First Nations Studies, Geography, History, Social Studies
Language:  English
Grade Level:  3 - 5, 6 - 8
Country Of Origin:  Canada
Copyright Year:  2015
Running Time:  14:28
Closed Captions:  Yes

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First Nations people have lived in this country for many thousands of years. They were here long before anyone else. In the 16th century, European explorers and missionaries began making their way to Canada. Many of these people worked with the native people, learning from them and helping them. However, the Europeans also brought with them diseases like smallpox, tuberculosis and measles. Native people had never been in contact with these germs and many thousands died as a result.

As the British and French governments took more control, aboriginal people began to lose their culture and the land they needed for their way of life. A series of treaties, acts and reports set in motion the establishment of a system of residential schools. These schools were funded by the government and run by churches. The government believed Aboriginal Canadians should learn English or French and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs. They didn’t think that aboriginal culture was important in the modern world. They hoped that native traditons and culture would eventuallydisappear. The government believed children were easier to change than adults so they set up this system of schools.

Education was a way to “assimilate” the children – to make them behave and think more like the Europeans who were taking over Canada. Residential schools had a lasting impact on First Nations individuals, families and communites. The children who returned home brought with them the various abuses they experienced. That has affected their families and communites for generations. Children came home lonely, depressed and scared. Many had died without ever seeing their parents again.

This program gives students an overview of the residential school system in Canada. Combining archival footage with residential school survivor interviews, students will learn why and how the schools were established, the effect of treaties on aboriginal life, the impact of residential schools on future generations,what life was like for children in these schools, and an appreciation of aboriginal culture and history.



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