Who Funded Residential Schools In Canada

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About Funded Residential Schools In Canada

In Canada, the Indian residential school system was a network of boarding schools for Indigenous peoples. The Department of Indian Affairs of Canada provided funding for the network, which was run by churches. To remove Indigenous children from the influence of their own native culture and religion and assimilate them into the mainstream Canadian society, the school system was established.

Over the duration of the system’s more than a century-long existence, some 150,000 kids nationwide were sent to residential schools. In the 1930s, it was estimated that 30 percent of Indigenous students were enrolled in residential schools. Due to insufficient records, it is still unknown how many people have died at schools. The range of estimates is 3,200 to over 30,000.

The system was established by legislation passed prior to Confederation, but it only became operational once Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie signed the Indian Act in 1876. Under Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, the government embraced the American system of residential industrial schools, which was a collaboration between the state and several religious institutions.

Under Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell, the Indian Act was amended in 1894 to require First Nations children to attend day schools, industrial schools, or residential schools. Because of the isolation of many towns and the locations of the schools, residential schools were the only option for some families to attend. To reduce contact between families and their children, the schools were purposefully placed far away from Indigenous settlements.

Indian Commissioner Hayter Reed lobbied for farther-flung schools to cut down on family visits, which he said undermined efforts to assimilate Indigenous kids. The implementation of a pass system intended to limit Indigenous people to reserves severely curtailed parental visitation. Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet, the final residential school to receive federal funding, shut its doors in 1997. With the exception of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, schools were operational in every province and territory.

Indigenous children were gravely injured by the residential school system, which separated them from their families, deprived them of their native languages, and subjected many of them to physical and sexual assault. Additionally, students were pressured into becoming “assimilated” citizens, erasing their legal Indian identity. Students who attended the residential school system frequently graduated unable to fit into their communities but still susceptible to discriminatory sentiments in mainstream Canadian society since they were cut off from their family and culture and compelled to speak English or French.

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In the end, the method was successful in preventing the generational transmission of Indigenous customs and beliefs. The system’s legacy has been connected to a rise in post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, drug misuse, suicide, and intergenerational trauma that still affects Indigenous communities today.

Government Involvement

The British North America Act transferred responsibility for education in Canada to the provincial governments, but the federal government remained still in charge of Indigenous peoples and their treaties. The federal government pledged to fund Indigenous education as part of multiple treaties. Under the terms of the Indian Act, residential schools were supported by the federal Department of the Interior.

An Act to modify and consolidate the laws relating to Indians was passed in 1876, and it incorporated all prior legislation putting Indigenous communities, lands, and money under government administration. The act significantly restricted Indians’ freedom to engage in spiritual and cultural activities, according to the TRC, and made them “wards of the state, unable to vote in provincial or federal elections or enter the professions if they did not resign their status.”

Prior to Confederation, the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869 and the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 laid the groundwork for this method. These actions were predicated on the idea that French and British culture were inherently superior, and that Indigenous peoples ought to convert to Christianity, learn French or English, and start farming. At the time, numerous Indigenous leaders campaigned for the repeal of these laws.

Any Indigenous male who was deemed “sufficiently advanced in the elementary branches of education” was given 50 acres (200,000 m2) of property and was instantly enfranchised, losing any tribal membership or treaty rights.

The government hoped that by passing this legislation and establishing residential schools, Indigenous peoples could eventually blend in with the rest of society. Individual allotments of farmland would necessitate modifications to the communal reserve system, which First Nations governments vehemently oppose.

Indigenous children from 7 to 16 had to attend school as a result of changes made to the Indian Act in 1894. The modifications included a number of exclusions related to the location of the school, the wellbeing of the kids, and their prior passing of academic exams. In 1908, it was modified to apply to kids between the ages of 6 and 15. Pressure from missionary representatives led to the adoption of required attendance. They were finding it difficult to draw in new students because of the declining quality of the schools, which made them dependent on enrollment quotas to receive funds.

Although education in Canada was made the jurisdiction of the provincial governments by the British North America Act, Indigenous peoples and their treaties were under the jurisdiction of the federal government. As a condition of several treaties, the federal government agreed to provide for Indigenous education. Residential schools were funded under the Indian Act by what was then the federal Department of the Interior.

Adopted in 1876 as An Act to amend and consolidate the laws respecting Indians, it consolidated all previous laws placing Indigenous communities, land and finances under federal control. As explained by the TRC, the act “made Indians wards of the state, unable to vote in provincial or federal elections or enter the professions if they did not surrender their status, and severely limited their freedom to participate in spiritual and cultural practices.”

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The Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act of 1869 formed the foundations for this system prior to Confederation. These acts assumed the inherent superiority of French and British ways, and the need for Indigenous peoples to become French or English speakers, Christians, and farmers. At the time, many Indigenous leaders argued to have these acts overturned.

The Gradual Civilization Act awarded 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land to any Indigenous male deemed “sufficiently advanced in the elementary branches of education” and would automatically enfranchise him, removing any tribal affiliation or treaty rights.

With this legislation, and through the creation of residential schools, the government believed Indigenous peoples could eventually become assimilated into the general population. Individual allotments of farmland would require changes in the communal reserve system, something fiercely opposed by First Nations governments

Parental Resistance And Compulsory Attendance

Throughout its existence, several families and parents of indigenous students opposed the residential school system. Children were prevented from attending school and, in some circumstances, kept hidden from government agents entrusted with gathering up kids on reservations.

Parents frequently argued for increased funding for schools, as well as the expansion of day schools in convenient locations for parents to enroll their children in. They also frequently demanded that the standard of instruction, as well as the quality of the food and clothing offered at the schools, be raised. Demands for information on allegations of abuse were frequently brushed aside as a ruse by parents trying to keep their kids at home, with government and school officials assumed to be the experts.

In 1894, amendments to the Indian Act made school attendance compulsory for Indigenous children between 7 and 16 years of age. The changes included a series of exemptions regarding school location, the health of the children and their prior completion of school examinations. It was changed to children between 6 and 15 years of age in 1908. The introduction of mandatory attendance was the result of pressure from missionary representatives. Reliant on student enrolment quotas to secure funding, they were struggling to attract new students due to increasingly poor school conditions.

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The Family Allowance Act, which was passed in 1945, included a requirement that school-age children be enrolled in school in order for families to be eligible for the “baby bonus,” further pressuring Indigenous parents to send their kids to school.

Funding Residential Schools In Canada

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission list three reasons behind the federal government’s decision to establish residential schools.

  1. Provide Aboriginal people with skills to participate in a market-based economy.
  2. Further political assimilation, in hope that educated students would give up their status and not return to their reserves or families.
  3. Schools were “engines of cultural and spiritual change” where “‘savages’ were to emerge as Christian ‘white men'”.

Andsell Macrae, a commissioner with Indian Affairs, was quoted by the Commission as saying: “It is unlikely that any Tribe or Tribes would give trouble of a serious nature to the Government whose members had children completely under Government control.” In addition to these three, the Commission stated a national security element.

The federal government adopted the American system of residential industrial schools in an effort to reduce expenditures. Edgar Dewdney, the Indian Commissioner, wanted the residential schools to become financially independent a few years after they first opened by using forced labor. The government thought that by using the industrial system and the inexpensive labor provided by missionary workers, it could “run a system of residential schools for almost nothing. Much schools did this through a system where students studied for half the day and conducted “vocational training,” including raising or growing and preparing most of the food they ate, making and mending much of their clothing, and maintaining the schools “for the remainder. Because of the failure of this system, schools never attained self-sufficiency.

By 1891, the government had reduced the already meager pay, stopped paying for running expenses, and set a fixed amount of money per pupil. Due to this strategy, pupils who were judged “too young or too unwell” were more likely to be accepted. A health problem in the schools and a financial catastrophe in the missionary groups were brought on by the ongoing underfunding. To address the health crisis, the federal government boosted per capita grant financing in 1911. But there was no inflation adjustment made to the funding. That award was repeatedly cut during the 1930s, the Great Depression, and World War II.

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