Residential Schools in Canada

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From the late 1800s to the 1980s, more than 100,000 First Nations children in Canada attended residential schools To attend these schools, children were taken away from their families and communities. At the schools, the children suffered from emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse. The worst abuses were often used as punishment for speaking their indigenous languages. The imposition of residential schools on First Nations children has led to significant loss of indigenous languages, and this language loss has led to further cultural losses for traditional First Nations cultures in Canada. One far-reaching result of the residential school system is the loss of indigenous languages in Canada. A major cause of this loss was the…show more content…
Therefore, the loss of language led to the loss of traditional spiritual beliefs and connection to nature. In short, interpersonal relationships and traditional belief systems were both sacrificed when residential schools contributed to the decline of First Nations children’s indigenous language abilities. The effects of these losses continue to this day despite attempts to reverse the damage. On June 11, 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper offered an official apology on behalf of the Canadian government to survivors of residential schools for the treatment they had received there. Following this apology, Beverly Jacobs, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, noted that aboriginal people need more than an apology; they need a government commitment to dealing with the negative impacts of the schools in areas such as “language, culture, . . . tradition, and spirituality”. The effects of the residential schools on First Nations’ language and culture will never be undone; all Canadians can do now is support efforts by aboriginal people to preserve and revitalize those linguistic and cultural traditions that have not been lost. References Blair, H., Rice, S., Wood, V. & Janvier, J. (2002). Daghida: Cold Lake first nation works towards Dene language revitalization. In B. Burnaby and J. Reyner (Eds.), Indigenous languages across
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