Equity & Diversity

A Painful Legacy: Government-Run Indian Boarding Schools

By Elizabeth Rich — June 17, 2010 1 min read

From the late 18th century through the 20th century, government-run Indian boarding schools attempted to assimilate and Christianize Indian children and, in the process, often left them feeling degraded and abused. But the United States is not the only country with this painful history.

Education Week has posted a story about how Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission is encouraging its indigenous population to speak out about the horrors they experienced in Canada’s government and church-run schools. Stories of sexual and physical abuse, much like those we’ve read and heard about in this country, are emerging—150,000 Canadian children were removed from their families and forced to attend these schools during much of the 20th century. The last such school in Canada closed in 1996, reports The Daily News, a newspaper from British Columbia.

Robert Joseph, B.C. hereditary chief of the Kwaguilth nation on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island, said at the commission’s first public gathering on Wednesday, “I’m 70 now and it took almost all of that time to share some of these secrets—dark ugly painful, degrading, dehumanizing secrets...I was just so angry. I don’t want to pass my anger on any more.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.