The Impacts of the Residential School System on the Aboriginal People of Canada

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‘I want to get rid of the Indian problem. That is my whole point. Our objective is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic and there is no Indian question’ (Scott in Grant, 1996: 273). Canada is a vast territory widely recognised for the cultural and geographical diversity in nature. This alone poses a distinct challenge to understanding a unified conception of Aboriginal Geographies of Canada - particularly for understanding the Geographies of The Canadian Residential Schools System (RSS). The Canadian Residential School System was an early government led approach to Indigenous ‘development’. It was initially implemented to educate the ‘uncivilised’ Aboriginal populations of Canada as a way to assimilate Indigenous people into the colonial settler population. This created profound effects on Indigenous people in Canada, including the spaces and places so integral to their culture. In this essay I will discuss the impacts of the residential school system on the Aboriginal people of Canada with particular reference to how space and place are critical importance to mapping the geographies of the Canadian Residential School System. In conclusion, I suggest that the impacts of the Canadian Residential school system have had direct impacts on not only physical space, but also the places that have intrinsic meaning to both the identity and culture of Aboriginal people in Canada. Fig 1. Selected
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