Indian residential schools have played a significant role in providing literacy amongst the aboriginal communities in Canada. The Indian residential schools were primarily established with the aim of providing education to the first nations. Lejac Residential School is one of the many Indian residential schools in Canada sponsored by the government with the aim of educating and creating civilization amongst the first nations (Regan, 2010). Lejac Residential School was opened in 1917 in Fort Saint James and operated by the Catholic Church. The school is located in the village of Fort Fraser. This essay seeks to establish the damage or benefit of the Indian residential schools such as Lejac residential schools and how they have transformed or damaged the local Aboriginal communities.
Reason for the establishment of Lejac Residential School
The major reason behind the creation of the residential schools in Canada was mainly constructed in first nation areas with the aim of creating civilization amongst the first nations. The introduction of the residential schools such as the Lejac Indian residential school had a significant effect on the health and spiritual wellness of the first nations. Education institutions such as Lejac Indian residential school has assimilated the local aboriginal people into modern Canadian and European ways of life. The euro-Canadian way of life adopted by the first nations in residential schools has achieved the goal of the institutions which has led to the erosion of the first nations culture which has made them more adaptive to western cultures and way of life (Churchill, 2004).
The Canadian government wanted to improve the way of life as well as the ability of the first nations to interact with the other Canadians which could improve their lives and access to modern amenities such as healthcare. The introduction of residential schools in first nations occupied areas has played a significant role in the recognition of the needs of the first nations as well as their ability to interact with people from other cultures whom they viewed as different before the introduction of residential education institutions. The Canadian government introduced the residential schools with the aim of providing the first nations a chance to learn English and adopt Christianity. Ideally, the main government aim was to establish a generation of first nations children who would make a cultural change in the aboriginal people by passing on their adopted European lifestyle to their children which would have eradicated the native traditions (Churchill, 2004).
The Canadian government introduced the aggressive assimilation policy which primary approach to implementation was the creation of residential schools such as the Lejac Indian Residential School. The residential schools were church-run just like Lejac Indian Residential School is run by the Catholic Church and funded by the government. The concept of the establishment of the residential schools was based on the belief by the government that the children are easier to mold than adults who were deeply rooted to their culture and traditions De (Leeuw, 2007).
The government introduced and funded the residential schools such as Lejac Indian Residential School was aimed at establishing a means through which they can be able to control the first nations people and also pave the way to development. Most developers and institutions were afraid of venturing in first nations areas despite being endowed with resources due to the fear of opposition from the people. The introduction of education in first nations areas has improved their approachability due to their ability to assimilate European customs and way of life. The residential schools have opened up the areas of the first nation to both governances as well as business. Further, the establishment of the residential schools has led to ethnic diversity and development in first nations territories by granting young generations education which has improved their livelihoods as well as the ability to lead a more civilied life (Churchill, 2004).
Possible damage caused by residential schools
The establishment of residential schools in first nations had significant mental, physical and spiritual adverse effects on the students who enrolled in residential schools such as Lejac Indian Residential School. On the course of a noble idea that was pioneered by the government and the church. Many children were abused physically and sexually in residential schools such as Lejac Indian Residential School. This resulted to significant mental, spiritual and psychological damage on the students. In most cases, students in Lejac Indian Residential School rarely were allowed to go to their communities which would have had a negative impact on the progress that had been achieved. In most cases due to Christian teachings and learning English the first nation students who returned to their reserves found out that they did not belong. The school strategy of isolating the genders also had a significant negative effect on the development of the children in residential schools. The cruelty of the conditions in the schools led to the death of some students, for instance, in Lejac Indian Residential School four boys were found dead in 1937 as they were running away from school to their reserves which were far away from the schools. Instead of addressing the poor conditions and policies the residential schools retorted to harsh punishments towards those who attempted to flee the schools (Niezen, 2017).
In conclusion, the residential schools had significant harm than benefit to the first nation students. In most cases, the students were forced to remain in the schools against their will which led to suffering and emotional withdrawal of the students. In other cases, students who tried to escape from the schools did not survive the treacherous walk to their reserves and met their deaths. The residential schools further widened the gap between the first nation people and the Canadian government. However, some children were able to benefit from the residential schools and learned English as well as European ways of life.
Churchill, W. (2004). Kill the Indian, save the man: The genocidal impact of American Indian residential schools. San Francisco: City Lights.
De Leeuw, S. (2007). Intimate colonialisms: the material and experienced places of British Columbia's residential schools. The Canadian Geographer/Le Geographe canadien, 51(3), 339-359.
Niezen, R. (2017). Truth and indignation: Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian residential schools. University of Toronto Press.
Regan, P. (2010). Unsettling the settler within: Indian residential schools, truth telling, and reconciliation in Canada. ubc Press.
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