Indian Residential Schools: Carceral Classrooms in Canada

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Indian Residential Schools in Canada functioned as a node within an expansive network of government infrastructure that perpetuated policies of forced assimilation, a civilizing agenda, racial segregation, unethical labor practices and inequitable land reform strategies, influenced by deeply intertwined institutions of colonialism and missionary crusades. Jointly established by the Canadian federal government and various religious denominations, over 130 boarding schools existed nationwide from as early on as 1874 until as late as 1996, when the last school officially shut its doors. Over 150,000 of Canada’s First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were often forcibly removed from their homes and legally subjected to formalized spiritual, academic, and vocational training in these institutionalized settings. With a mission of “killing the Indian in the child,” the psychological impacts of the Indian Residential School system and its associated policies have been widespread, profoundly traumatic and intergenerational.