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Resources for Learning About Canada's Residential School System

Content Warning

Please note that the resources on this guide include survivor testimony and textual and visual depictions of psychological, physical, and sexual abuse. We care about your well-being; the following services are here to support you:

About Residential Schools

Residential Schools were run by religious organizations and sponsored by the Canadian government. They were founded with the intent to educate and convert Indigenous children and youth, and to assimilate them into white settler society.

At an 1846 meeting of the General Council of Indian Chiefs and Principle Men, Indian Affairs Superintendent P. G. Anderson gave the following statement:

“... it is because you do not feel, or know the value of education; you would not give up your idle roving habits, to enable your children to receive instruction. Therefore you remain poor, ignorant and miserable. It is found you cannot govern yourselves. And if left to be guided by your own judgement, you will never be better off than you are at the present; and your children will ever remain in ignorance. It has therefore been determined, that your children shall be sent to Schools, where they will forget their Indian habits and be instructed in all the necessary arts of civilized life, and become one with your white brethren."

The first federally run Residential School in Canada opened two years later (1848) in Alderville (Alnwick), Ontario.

At school, students were held captive, isolated from their families and their siblings, and forcibly stripped of their language, religion, traditions, and culture.

The resources in this guide shed light on the residential school experience and its far-reaching and long-lasting impacts, with a focus on Indigenous perspectives. They honour the memory of those lost and celebrate Indigenous resilience and resurgence.