The Residential School SystemChloe DiBenedettoSherwood Secondary School AbstractThis essay shows the challenges and impacts students who attended residential schools.
The federal government wanted Aboriginal children to abandon their traditional beliefs and adapt to Canadian society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries,. Residential schools were funded by the federal government and operated by various religious institutions. The goal of residential schools to by strip Aboriginal peoples of their language, culture, and connection with the family. The children would attend school for ten months a year a having very little connection to their family members. Students at the schools endured physical and emotional abuse.
The children were abused by their teachers if they were caught practicing their culture. Over time the abuse would cause physical and mental pain that would later transition with them into their adult lives, causing challenges. The impacts and challenges they faced affected them individually, their intimate relationships and their family lives. IntroductionThe implementation of Residential schools for indigenous students dates back to the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The schools were federally administered but managed by Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches. (Joseph, 2014). As an attempt to educate and transform the youth into Canadian society, residential schools were set up across Canada.
The school’s caused long-term impacts and challenges on Aboriginal people. When European settlers came to Canada, they assumed that their civilization was superior to another. They felt as though the cultural differences between themselves and the Aboriginal people were seen as ignorant and savage. The federal law concluded that aboriginals needed to convert to Canadian civilization.
By the early 1930’s were built and 17000 students were enrolled. The Aboriginal students faced mental and physical abuse,while living in poor living conditions affect their health. Aboriginal students were forced to endure pain at such a young age under the Canadian laws implemented by the Government.Impacts Individuals The impact residential schools had on Aboriginal children affected their health and well being.
Residential schools destroyed a child physically, mentally, and emotionally. Residential schools would mistreat many of their students. Students were strictly forbidden to speak their language or practice Aboriginal customs and traditions. Children were forced to be stripped of their culture and learn the more “dominant” Canadian culture. This would cause emotional damage making the child believe they were at a lower minority compared to others because of the culture they grew up in.
In Residential schools there would be strict rules students would have to follow. Any violations of the rules students would be dealt with violently, and made abuse very common. Unfortunately, many of the physical pain they suffered would lead to death, The government stopped recording deaths of children in residential schools, we think, probably because the rates were so high (Sinclair, 2015). There would be up to 6,000 deaths in the schooling system.
As well as sexual abuse toward boys girls. One in five kids were sexually abused at schools by their teachers. (Tim Naumetz, 2009). The abuse that Aboriginal students would receive impacted them as they were forced to live the consequences for ten months.
The harms caused in schools would put a child in a negative mindset and cause mental illness such as depression and anxiety. Many of the students would be forced to live through distracting events and were not able to seek help while having to be tortured by their teachers every day. Another impact that students were forced to face were the abilities to learn in the classroom. Many residential schools would force their students to work voluntarily and unpaid. The girls did the housekeeping; boys, general maintenance, and agriculture. (Joseph, 2015). Many of the schools were low funded so they would rely on the work as a way to survive and keep the school running. The chores the students were forced to do impacted their time in the classroom.
Aboriginal students may have been in the fifth grade by the time they were 18 years old. The impact of being used for work in a negative space would lead to kids having a lower education than most, making it difficult in life as they were to grow older. Family Children were taken away from their families at a very young age.
This was because teachers could impalement Canadian culture before tehri family does, giving plenty of time for the teacher to convert the student. Families dealt with stress and sadness losing a beloved family member. Rules were placed by the federal Government so that every Indigenous child would be forced to attend residential schools. If any family member would go against the rules they would be punished by the Indian affairs. (Paul, 2008) Many students at residential schools rarely had opportunities to see examples of normal family life. The impact of becoming disconnected their family as a child caused sadness for both sides.
They were in school ten months a year, and parents usually weren’t allowed to visit them. Letters home were copied from the blackboard and written in English – which many parents couldn’t read. Unable to gain the support of a family member would impact the student emotionally. Some could be impacted by loneliness and depression.
The impact of separating a child from their family affected both parties with stress and sadness over the course of the students schooling years.Intimate RelationshipsAboriginal children who attended residential schools came across a hard time developing a relationship with their family members. Since the kids were taken at such a young age it became hard to establish a healthy relationship with their parents. Very little visits were allowed back home to see their family.
This would force a strain on a relationship with the child and their parents. This impacted the child as they could not have that parenting role model that most kids have. The student wouldn’t be able to gain that physical bond with their family that keeps a child healthy. As well as Children who had siblings in residential schools would strain their relationship at the school because it was gender divided. Siblings would often not grow a relationship due to little contact with each other. The impact by the low amount of relationship development between the Aboriginal students and their family members would place strain and stress that would follow through the generations when they aren’t able to develop that healthy relationship with each other. ChallengesIndividualResidential school survivors faced many illness and challenges as they got older.
Many survivors developed post-traumatic stress disorders; a type of anxiety that appears after a traumatic event. Residential school survivors faced this disorder due to the physical and sexual abuse they experiences at a young age. Many survivors are challenged with flashbacks, nightmares and aggressive memories from their experiences in residential schools. PTS affects one’s life of living as they get older and if it goes untreated it can lead to possible alcohol or drug abuse.
(Webster, 2012). Residential school survivors are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol at a young age after they are graduated from residential schools. Drug addiction is a chronic disease, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the drug addict and those around them. (2016).
With post-traumatic stress disorder survivors have had a difficult trying to engage in family, social and professional circumstances, a daily task that is quite normal to an average person. (2005). Residential school syndrome is similar to post-traumatic stress although it is more focused on the cultural impacts. Survivors lose knowledge of their culture in residential schools causing negative impacts and the sense of not knowing who they truly are. The extreme abuse survivors would go through if they were to practice their culture or speak their language would cause them to fear authority. (Doherty & Berglund, 2012).
As the abuse in Residential schools came from their teachers, who were in charge of them and gave out abusive punishments, survivors have a fear of being controlled by others who are higher in authority affecting their everyday lives negatively. This can challenge someone with a job as if they have to listen to their boss or impact their child as they have no true sense of authority. Those who are affected by both disorder can go through therapy to get help. 96 individuals were interviewed by Nuu-Chah-Nulth interviewers and 30% – 80% indicated that they were victims of abuse and more than half needed therapy or healing (Brasfield, 2001).
RelationshipsBeing in an intimate relationship with a survivor can be a challenge to both individuals in the relationship. This can be a challenge as many survivors of Residential schools have a negative past that can reflect on the way they express their love and compassion to their partner. In fact, 9% of indigenous people are victims of spousal abuse in 2014, this is compared to the 4% of nonindigenous people who have experienced spousal abuse as well (Ferreras, 2016). Spousal abuse is more likely in indigenous people from their destructive past that played a toll on their future lives. Mentally survivors with post-traumatic stress have trouble in social situations as they are constantly reminded of their troubled past. This can make it difficult to engage and commit to a relationship. Victims of abuse have trouble gaining trust in their partners.
This is because many classmates would be forced to abuse each other. (Minsky, 2015). Undermining children’s trust at a young age on their classmates and affected them as they got older.
With little trust in a relationship can cause dysfunctionalism. Also, starting an intimate relationship can become difficult as they are not fully able to commit because of the trust that has trouble gaining in someone. In conclusion, the challenge that former students face is the inability to form trust in a relationship with other because of the abuse they were given, undermining their trust for others FamilyWhen students would return home from residential schools they often felt as if they didn’t belong and felt isolated from their family. Students would attend school for 10 months and had very little chance for communication.
Students had no parent roles models, the class teachers and caregivers would be the person they learned from, leading to generations passing on the trauma of residential schools to their own children. With loneliness, isolation and abuse as their model in childhood, generations of residential school students went on to demonstrate the same behavior with their own children. The abused, in turn, became abusers, creating a cycle of childhood.
Sexual violation that has spread from one generation to the next. Sexual violation of children is unfortunately happens worldwide worldwide. Within Canada’s overall population, research shows one in three girls and one in six boys experience an unwanted sexual act, with 30 to 40 percent of victims abused by a family member (Kirkup & Ubelacker, 2016). This comes off as a challenge for their family. The family is forced to endure this pain making a negative environment in their family life. Often abuse can distract others from their goals to become successful as they are reminded of the abuse they receive from their family members. In their social life, they can often have a hard time making friends as they mimic their family members actions of abuse.
TheoriesConflict theoryConflict theory impacted students in residential schools. Aboriginals first stood in the way of the European way of living where everyone would be confined to their culture and race. As time went on the Canadian government forced the younger generation of Indigenous people to residential schools to conform them to Canadian culture. Conflict theories believe that society is constantly changing and conflict arises because people are always trying to promote their own special interest. More specifically, the Government identifies the changes in children were to be made in school in order to conform to society and be accepted into the workplace. They feared that the Aboriginal practices and beliefs would disrupt the cohesion of their own society. The Canadian government adopted the method of residential schools for Aboriginals as an attempt to confirm the future generations. The children were stripped of their native culture in Residential schools.
Students were punished if they spoke in their native language, as this rule was reflected and followed at school. With the rules in place, the Aboriginal culture was set to be extinct and make nearly impossible for generations to receive proper knowledge of their native culture. Conflict theory is based on social inequality, and it explains how the powerful promote their own interests at the expense of the weak (Ravelli & Webber, 2010). Residential schools show this as the children were mistreated and abused by the more powerful, prominent religious authority in the school.
Overall, the conflict theory best describes the residential school system, and it correctly identifies how the government used its power to change the indigenous cultures. Attachment theoryThe attachment theory shows a challenge for the child as they don’t have that connection with their family like non-indigenous kids do. The attachment theory is a deep and enduring emotional bond that connects one person to another across time and space. Many residential students would rarely see their parents as they were in school for 10 months and had limited contact.
Children were unable to form that bond causing a reactive attachment disorder, a condition found in children who may have received grossly negligent care and do not form a healthy emotional attachment with their primary caregivers. Students weren’t able to develop that connection with their family as they would be sent away at such a young age. As someone with reactive attachment disorder grows older they can display callous, unemotional traits such as behavioral problems and abuse towards people or animals. This can affect their everyday lives and make it a struggle to function in the real world as saviors don’t have that intimate bond with a parental figure. Functionalist theory The government’s purpose in setting up the residential schools was to convert Indigenous students into the dominant Canadian culture. Journalist and politician Nicholas Flood Davin studying residential schools stated “If anything is to be done with the Indian, we must catch him very young.
The children must be kept constant within the circle of civilized conditions,” (Davin, 1879). The public education was used as a tool to blend in and the objective was to be achieved by preventing indigenous cultural practices by placing residentials schools to strip students from their heritage. From the functionalist perspective, the main purpose of residential schools was to guide children into the more dominant culture, to spread knowledge and skills allowing Aboriginal children to fit into society, or the social control of a population regarded negatively. Although it was the hidden function of the school, the federal Government tried to prevent indigenous people. From a functional perspective, residential schools were dysfunctional because they failed to convert the students.
Students were not “successfully” remodeled into the government ideal image of a Canadian child and Aboriginal society remained. But, long-term negative impacts and challenges were implemented on the students from the abuse at residential schools. The Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada stated, “the legacy of the residential school experience is reflected in the significant educational, income, health, and social disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians” (TRC, 2015). Overall the functional theory has to conform society into one by establishing residential schools to convert Indigenous children to type more dominant cultural. In failure to do so, students were affected by sexual, physical and mental abuse challenging their lives as a student and as they grew older.
ConclusionResidential school survivors faced negatives experiences both in and out of the school. Impacts such as mental and physical abuse affected the children while at school. Forcing to be ashamed of their cultural and by the torture that the authority placed on them. Survivors still faced challenges from residential schools that affect them mentally as well.
Overall the impact and challenges have affected many Indigenous people as an individual, their relationships and family lives.