Residential Schools And Cultural Assimilation Nepean Hs Hsb4 U Essay

1067 words - 5 pages

Cultural Assimilation of
Native Americans Within
Canada
Throughout Canadian history there has seldom, if ever, been a case of cultural
assimilation as extreme as the residential school system. From its formation to its demise,
residential schools managed to tear apart the deep rooted aboriginal culture present in Canada
using tactics that have prompted churches and governments to apologize and seek forgiveness
from those who managed to survive the schools. This essay discusses the genesis, motives,
tactics, and impacts of residential schools in a way which can shed light on the extremities taken
by churches and the Canadian Government to destroy Aboriginal culture.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers in Canada, Aboriginal peoples had developed a
self sufficient way of life which allowed them to thrive in Canada’s beautiful, but sometimes
harsh climate (Oliver, 2010). While many Europeans chose generalize all Native Americans as n
one group, they were actually a complex makeup of differing cultures and ideologies. Groups
such as Iroquois, Woodland, Plains, Pacific, and Plateau were all collections of peoples that
contained a number of sub groups, each with differing ideas, principals, and living habits. To
sustain themselves, these groups would trap, hunt, fish, and gather. Some, such as the Woodlands
peoples, lived nomadic lifestyles. Others, including Iroquois, adapted their survival tactics in a
way in which allowed them to live sedentary lives (First Nations in Canada, 2017). Many,
especially those who lived sedentary lives, created complex government structures based on
democratic principles similar to what we see in western politics today (Fontaine, 2007).
Aboriginals also enjoyed a religious system in which beliefs were largely similar across different
groups. They believed that their values and way of life were gifts from the Creator, and that one
of the most vital aspects of life was to live in harmony with nature and its elements (Mosby,
2017). In order to maintain their rich culture and traditions, Indigenous peoples educated their
youth through tactics such as demonstration, group socialization, participation in cultural and
spiritual rituals, skill development, and storytelling (Mccue, 2011).
When colonists arrived to what is now Canada, they were predominantly met with peace
and generosity from the Native Americans: behavior that was common for Natives to display to
newcomers. However, this hospitality displayed to the Europeans was wrongfully interpreted as
subservience, backing the Europeans’ belief in their own supremacy (Oliver, 2010). From here,
the relationship between the two parties began to deteriorate. The Europeans believed that they
had a duty to educate and “save” the First Nations people that they saw as “savages, witches, and
cannibals” (Oliver, 2010). Eventually in 1776, the federal government passed the Indian Act
which required them provide Indigenous youth with an education and integrate them into
Canadian...

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