Impact of Colonization in Canada
Colonization occurs in circumstances where more than one group or species is populated in an area. In the past,Canada has hosted many people from different groups including those with the characteristics of Aboriginal people, with different lifestyles, beliefs, ways of operating trade activities and social backgrounds. Nevertheless, colonization helped Canada to forma distinct Canadian Culture.The culture was more composed of the geographic and linguistics of Canada and even incorporated the economic status of its neighboring country the United States.
Citizens who were born in Canada felt that they had legal rights to live in that country hence fought against colonization by maintaining their customs and beliefs and gave the Europeans who had come to their country to gain from the country’s natural resources a difficult time. Even as this happened, different communities in Canada sought freedom from the governments that had created the Indian Act –which had been enforced and gave the government the mandate to control Indian Education through the minister – in the country after the destruction of the aboriginal communities residing in this country. During the period of colonization in Canada, the aboriginal communities proposed that the Canadian government should cease controlling the people, land and other resources and fully support the equality of the aboriginal nations.
The process of establishing residential schools was tough during the colonization period in the country. This is because majority of the residential schools were biased and hence offered education to the natives of the country only or the people that originated from the same community. The Indian Act offered the Indians a right to vote on condition that they would abandon their belief status and accept the establishment of residential schools for the Indians. This Act, however was also unfair and mean to the Indians who chose to attend the residential schools because it made it compulsory for children as young as 6 years to attend the school where they would be compelled to stay for months without going for holidays.During the school sessions, learners were forbidden from practicing any activities that were related to their culture and also communicating in their own language. Since most of these schools were established by missionaries, most of the learners were converted to Christianity and were also taught how to read English.
Physical punishment was meted out to the students who violated any of the rules and many of the students developed different challenges and problems owing to the harsh living conditions in the schools. Majority of the students that left the schools faced many types of abuses and this affected their social life in the future. Nonetheless, there are many children who lost their lives as they attempted to resist the rule of the residential schools. Some of these children committed suicide while others died while trying to escape from the schools. There are also those that died due to the trauma they faced in the schools and as they attempted to erase the bad memories of the school conditions. The children who survived the closure of these schools, required a lot of time for healing and compensation from the abuses and torture they had been put through by the federal government and the Department of India.
The churches and the federal government assumed that by establishing these schools it would be easier for them to mold the children in comparison to the adults. They required to do this in order to intervene and avoid leaving the native people behind and as such, they would do this by erasing the cultural influence of the native people from their children. Today, close to 80,000 former students are still living, and the impact of residential schools continues to be felt throughout the generations and is attributed to many social problems that continue to exist.This is because the survivors still carry the burden of the traumatic experiences that they had to bear, and being the survivors of such atrocities, they continue to regard themselves with shame, self hatred and violence due to the many abuses they experienced in order to be shown how inferior they were. This made them feel neglected and also affected their relations with their families. However, the government of Canada,with the help of the christian missionaries, took over the management of the residential schools and controlled the schools and set rules and regulations to govern the schools.
Due to colonization, the natives of Canada due, did not have the freedomto practice theirculture and the introduction of the Christian beliefs and values, which brought about the many problems in the residential schools that many natives in the country had to face. Canada has also faced myriad of challenges with regards to the loss of loved ones as well as abuses from the colonists.
In the process of healing, the survivors have taken the Canadian government, the Assembly of first nations and churches to the court in order to gain compensation for the tortures they had been subjected to while living in the residential schools, which were actually established by these three bodies. However, a body known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has been given the mandate to carry out research and learn more about what happened to those natives who attended the residential schools, and duly inform the people of Canada what happened. The commission will record the truth of what happened by relying on the previous records that are held by those who operated and funded the schools, obtaining the experiences of the survivors from the schools, their families, communities and anyone who was in any way affected by the residential school experience.
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Hookimaw-Witt, “Any Changes since Residential School?” (PDF)
Lecture Notes on: “Culture” and on the “Residential Schools” (Power Points)
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