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Why Residential Schools are Created and its Impact to Students (Essay Sample)


the essay seeks to understand what is meant by residential schools, why the schools were created, the impact it had on the students and the outcome. they residential schools were a network of christian boarding schools established to assimilite the indigenous childrens and youths into canadian culture. the students however sufferd alot as they were treated harshly and were foreced to forget their culture. the outcome was not good as many died in the schools, while others escaped.


Student Name
Instructor’s Name
Residential Schools
The residential schools were a network of boarding schools that were established to assimilate the indigenous youths into the Canadian culture. These schools were government-sponsored; hence they were run by both the governments and religion. The first residential school in Canada began in the year 1883. In the initial stages, there were 69 schools with 1100 students. By 1993 the number had increased to 150,000 and 80 schools. Most of the youths were forcefully taken from the communities and brought to the residential schools. As a way of assimilation to the Canadian way of living, the aboriginal children were supposed to learn English or French and adopt Christianity. Failure to obey the rules the students would be severely punished through whipping, and to the extreme, it could result in abuse. This paper will explore why residential schools were created, there impact on the lives of the students, and the outcome.
Government and church involvement
The European settlers in Canada believe that their civilization was superior led to the establishment of residential schools by the Canadian government in the year 1883. This notion by the European settlers placed the aboriginals as second class people. They interpreted the differences between them and aboriginals to portray them as ignorant and backward. This kind of comparison left a big gap between the European culture and the aboriginals, which, according to the Europeans settlers, could only be filled through assimilating the aboriginals into their culture (Miller). The failure by the European settlers to accommodate the culture of the aboriginals led to the establishment of residential schools.
The establishment of residential schools was both an initiative of the government and religion. The main aim of the government was to assimilate the aboriginals to modern society. Schools play an essential role in education and teaching new things and information. Coming up with residential schools was the best idea to instill new believes in aboriginal children and (Miller). For example, the government wanted them to get rid of the aboriginal's language, religion, and lifestyle. The government wanted to get rid of anything to do with Indians have one people, Canadians either through birth or through assimilation.
Through the residential schools, the government aimed at killing the Indian culture and ideologies in children and youths early enough before they could get the opportunity to learn about their heritage. The schools were meant to isolate the children from the influence of their families, the communities around them, and their traditions while assimilating them into the Canadian culture, which was considered to be dominant. The students spent most of the time of the year in schools there had no time to spend with family (schiedel). It is clear that, according to the Canadian government, the Indians were regarded as second class people and their way of life inferior, hence the need for assimilation.
The church played a vital role in the running of the residential schools. One of the roles of the church in residential schools was to teach the students Christianity, which was one of the government's aims. It was believed by many that civilization and Christianity go hand in hand, hence the need for church involvement in residential schools. The same sentiments were shared in a memorandum during a convention by catholic principals. According to the memorandum, true civilization could only come through moral law, which only the church could offer (Eshet). Even though the church was primarily involved in the running of the residential schools, it did not succeed in the plans to change the Indians, to show that no one can change another human being, unless the person so wills.
Just like the government, the church aimed at getting rid of the aboriginal religious beliefs and assimilate them into Christian doctrines. Both Catholic and protestant missionaries viewed the aboriginal’s spiritual beliefs as some sort of witchcraft or superstations. They believed Christianity as the superior religion that should be emulated by all. According to William Duncan, a member of the missionary society, the conditions of the Aboriginals can only be compared to what one can expect with the savage heathen lives (Johnson). The church leaders, just like the political leaders, considered the Christian religion superior to the Aboriginal's religious believes.
Student Experiences
The first experience by the Indian students in the residential schools was the separation. These students were sent to boarding schools, which were far from their families, and spent most of their time in school. They stayed in the schools for at least ten months, and some remained in the schools throughout the year. History has it that some of these students were forcefully taken to the schools, showing that the aboriginals did not welcome the idea. The psychological trauma created by this act is unexplainable. One of the survivors of the schools said he felt lonely, afraid, lost, and abandoned (Eshet). This kind of scenario can make one feel cut off from who they are and where they belong. The damage is a lifetime.
Most of the then students in the residential schools can relate to the kind of humiliation that they suffered in the hand of the Europeans. According to Aljazeera, Wesley, who was a student at residential schools, agrees to the shame they went through. He narrates how he threw the first time he ate corn. He was forced to eat the vomit, and when he threw it again, he ate it for the second time. The aboriginals were poorly treated and were viewed as bush people who knew nothing ( editors). This kind of humiliation shows that the lives of aboriginals meant nothing to the Europeans, especially if one was not keen to get accustomed to their culture.
The humiliation was in different forms. Caribou, who is a survivor, recalls how she used to be thrown into a cold shower every day, which happened after she was sexually assaulted. She also talks of how she used to be referred to like a dog and forced to eat rotten vegetables. Apart from those who survived the humiliation and mistreatment, some who could not bear it anymore committed suicide (IIse). One can say without a doubt that the lives of the aboriginals had no value to the Europeans. They only cared about forcing their ideologies onto them.[]
Punishments that resulted in abuse were the order of the day. The students who failed to obey the rules were severely punished through whipping. Punishments and abuse were crossed as those in charge took such moments as an opportunity to assault the students. Many were sexually assaulted, while others were still physically and emotionally abused (Charles). For example, if one were caught with an offense of trying to sneak back to their families, they would be punished by being secluded in a dark closet for days and without food. The harsh nature of punishment and abuse was terrible since they could only leave the victim with the emotional trauma that can affect them for a lifetime.
The punishments for offenses like running from schools were in many forms and harsh. Sometimes such students were put in prisons that were created for this purpose. The girls who tried to escape were shaved the hair, which, according to the Indians, is an extension of one's mind, showing its strength and beauty. Other punishments included being whipped with nine knotted thongs with pants down, especially for boys. These students received punishments even for common issues in childhood, like bedwetting. The common punishment for this kind of offense was shock treatments (Eshet). Even though they are dubbed as punishment, it is clear that these kinds of treatments amount to abuse.
Another critical experience by Indian students in residential schools is the effect on the language. The student is forced to communicate in a language that they knew nothing about was a great humiliation and torture in itself. They felt lost and without an identity. Speaking the native language was punishable by, missed meals, and to the extreme even passing needles through the student’s tongue (Eshet). Speaking native language was taken seriously since language is connected with culture. Among the negative effect of this is the confusion it brought and the loss of identity.
Some of the consequences of the residential schools were health-related, and the impact is felt even today. Caribou, who is a victim from one of the schools, says that she contracts pneumonia once a year as a result of being thrown in cold showers after sexual assault (Elsie). The torture also led to other physical illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart diseases, back pains, arthritis, liver diseases, and stomach problems, among others. These diseases were a result of poor hygiene, poor diet, and starvation, punishments such as isolation in the cold and beatings. Even though the schools were abolished, the impact is still alive today, with many survivors experiencing health problems.
There have been mental disorders associated with the mistreatment of the aboriginals in the residential schools. Some of these conditions include depression, drug abuse, panic disorders, psychological disorders, and personality disorders, among others. Some of the violations like sexual assault can lead to depression and psychological disorders if not well handled. The abuse and punishments made the children hard and aggressive (Bombay). Due to the stress and the trauma, some people have found themselves indulging in drug...

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