Adapted from CBC.ca and The Vancouver Sun by Nila Gopaul
Residential Schools and Reconciliation Resources
Teachers from around B.C. are meeting
at a conference in Vancouver.
They are reviewing new material.
The material is about residential schools and reconciliation.
What are residential schools?
The residential school system
operated in Canada from 1875-1996.
During this time, about 150,000 aboriginal children
were forced to live at schools.
They were taken from their homes.
At these schools, the children were not allowed
to speak their language.
They could not practice their culture or tradition.
Some of the children were underfed and abused.
These children are called “survivors”.
What is reconciliation?
Reconciliation means the fixing of a broken relationship.
This relationship is between the Canadian government
and aboriginal peoples of Canada.
On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Harper made an official apology:
“Two primary objectives of the residential school system
were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes,
families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them
into the dominant culture.
These objectives were based on the assumption
Aboriginal cultures and spiritual beliefs were inferior and unequal.
Indeed, some sought, as it was infamously said,
‘to kill the Indian in the child’.
Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong,
has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.”
New material this fall
This fall, new material for teachers will be available
for Grades 5, 10, 11 and 12.
Ken Heales is a teacher in Hundred Mile House.
He is in Vancouver for the conference.
He tested some of the material last year.
“It was quite surprising to me
how many of my students
really didn’t know about it,” Heales said.
“They were shocked to find out this had happened
— they wanted to learn more.”
Louise Lacerte is a residential school survivor.
“There was an era where we weren’t allowed to …
share the information or the experiences …
within those schools,” Lecerte said.
“So now I think it’s turned around
where our children’s children can start understanding
why we are the way we are.”
The First Nations Education Steering Committee
and the First Nations Schools Association
made the material for the conference.