The Indian Act and residential school

1974 Words Mar 23rd, 2004 8 Pages
The Indian Act of 1876 and many of its amending statutes contained sections that were discriminatory towards Canadian Native Indians, and that legalized suppression of Indian customs and traditions. In this paper, I will examine how one section of the Act, the one relating to residential schools, contributed to the genocide of Indian culture.

Ever since the first Europeans set foot on Canadian soil in the 15th century, they have thought their culture and way of life was superior to that of the Native North Americans. Initially the Europeans relied upon the Indians to show them how to travel and survive in the wilds of Canada. They also were dependent on Indians as trading partners and as military allies. However, as more settlers arrived
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At the same time, those teachers tried to instill the white man's ways into them.

The whole concept of teaching in the residential schools was countering the traditional native lifestyle. Native children had always learned through interacting with, emulating, and observing their parents and elders. There was no structured educational system as there was in the schools. Parents thought that you "...don't [want to] explain too much or you'll take away the opportunity to learn."(Goulet, 1998)

Discipline was another philosophy foreign to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. Native parents would let their children discover how to go about doing things by making mistakes on their own. If a child tried something and it did not work out, the child would suffer the natural consequences of their error and try to find a better way next time. The entire concept of striking a child was completely unheard of and was thought to be extremely inappropriate and unnecessary. At both Mopass and the Ontario school, these were common practices, as was starving children and taking away their privileges. King

(1967), for example describes a situation:

"They starved us up there! We got one egg a year-at Easter. The rest of the time we got dogfood mush [corn meal] and skim milk. Them in the staff dining room, though, they got bacon and eggs everyday. We never saw fruit from one Christmas to the next, but they sure had it. Why some of those kids just starved to death. One year there was
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