Hello everyone! Before we do anything, I would like to acknowledge that I am writing this blog while residing on the unceded and traditional land of the first people of Seattle: the Duwamish, Stillaguamish, and Muckleshoot Peoples past and present, and honor with gratitude the land itself and their respective Tribes.
Just a heads up that this blog will be broaching the topic of Indigenous people and their land, so I thought it was important to do a Land Acknowledgment. For those who are unaware, a Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and the state of their traditional home lands. These can be done in many different circumstances and are something that I have personally been striving to include more in my personal and professional life. I highly recommend checking out native-land.ca to help better understand what native land you reside on and perhaps do a Land Acknowledgement of your own.
I’ve been very busy with work (I recently got a promotion that hasn’t afforded me much free time) and other projects (stay tuned) this month, so this blog is gonna be a little different than usual, but it’s my website so I’m gonna do what I want!
Canada’s Residential Schools were a topic that recently fell into and out of general public consciousness very quickly and something I’d been learning about since shortly before the horrific news of mass unmarked graves being discovered around them broke. As such, I wanted to use what I had learned over the last year or so, to help educate others while also educating myself. So I took advantage of my position as a contributor to my work’s Equity and Social Justice Newsletter to accumulate some bullet-point information regarding the history of Residential Schools and their American cousins, Native American Boarding Schools. I want to share that information with you too because it really concerns me how quickly we as a society moved on from the moral outrage from seeing the remains of thousands of children being discovered. Hopefully, you will find this information useful to educate yourself and/or others. This is really the bare minimum of information, so I really encourage you to do your own research and learn more about the atrocities that the American and Canadian governments committed against the indigenous peoples of this land.
- The ‘Indian Residential School System’ in Canada was founded as an attempt to continue assimilating indigenous peoples into the western culture – this included but was not exclusive to religious indoctrination into Christianity, learning English, and domestic and agricultural work exclusive to Anglo-Saxon traditions.
- The system came into use after the passing of the ‘Indian Act’ in 1876 and the last federally-funded school shut down in 1997.
- Many Indigenous groups were excluded as part of the Indian Act such as the Metis, the Inuit, and “non-status Indians” (e.g indigenous children with parents from different tribes or other indigenous individuals from tribes not recognized by the federal government at the time). Therefore many Indigenous populations were without rights or the Indian Act, as the Indian Act was meant to replace Canada’s “Charter of Rights and Freedoms” for Indigenous groups acknowledged by the federal government.
- The schools were extremely harmful to indigenous children – removing them from their homes and families often without consent, depriving them of their ancestral languages, and exposing them to numerous forms of abuse including (but certainly not limited to) experimentation, malnutrition, neglect, arduous labor, and sexual abuse.
- Survivors of residential schools often showed signs of the trauma they endured in post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide.
- In 2021 alone, thousands of unmarked graves have been found at the locations of former residential schools.
- Residential schools were not limited to just Canada!
- Thousands of Native American “boarding schools” existed in the United States between the 1700s and the 1900s with similar conditions.
- U.S. Army Officer Richard Henry Platt, who founded one of the Residential Schools in Pennsylvania was famous for stating “kill the Indian in him, and save the man” with the similar ideology of assimilating indigenous children under the belief that it was better for indigenous populations.
That’s gonna do it for this blog but just a reminder that I’m also still learning – so if there’s anything I should add, update, or correct here, please feel free to reach out and correct me! Otherwise, I’ll see you all next month with a more light-hearted topic.
THE WORLD IS YOUR BURRITO!
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