Resident Moron

Bringing it.

A page from my journal / A beginning to meditation

I wake up late to a troubled dream. I’ve been hitting snooze for way too long, and my head is filled with fog. The last thing I said in my dream…well, it’s gone now, but I was offended and I’m trying not to let it seep into my waking state. My next thought is how much work I have to do.

I’m feeling overwhelmed. I just want to melt away. I’ve set to hand in two assignments today but all I’ve done so far is come up with the title of my thesis: Teacher’s Perceptions of the Applications of Brain-Based Learning in Middle Years Classrooms.

I haven’t felt attractive in a long time. Something in my eyes is gone – is it youth? Maybe just allergies. As much as I desire intimacy, I first need to find someone I can look in the eyes. Have I experienced the last of my innocence? I crave something pure. Maybe that love will come again.

I want what orchestral music makes me feel. That must be my soul stirring.


I posted both those assignments by 8, then did some more work, then sold a chair for $20. Now I’m going to relax (and watch the new Criminal Minds). An old friend got in touch to remind me to stay cool. I just made a CLT…with chicken nuggets. Awesome.

Also, I listened to classical music all afternoon. Game changer.

May 9, 2012 Posted by | Writing | , , , , | 1 Comment


These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day. There is no time to them. There is simply the rose; it is perfect in every moment of its existence. Before a leaf-bud has burst, its whole life acts; in the full-blown flower there is no more; in the leafless root there is no less. Its nature is satisfied and it satisfies nature in all moments alike. But man postpones or remembers; he does not live in the present, but with reverted eye laments the past, or, heedless of the riches that surround him, stands on tiptoe to foresee the future. He cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Beautifully written and wise.

I like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at this “live in the present and love thyself” philosophy over the past couple of years. Ah, the mid-twenties graduate student, jugglin’ life like a pro.

(Psst… Don’t forget Mother’s Day on the 13th.)

May 5, 2012 Posted by | Writing | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Residential Schools in Canada

Written for a Masters level History of Education class.

Canada’s First Nations, 1880-1960: Residential Schools as a Means of Cultural Extinction

Has Canada been implicated in genocide?  Indian residential schools were put into practice as early as 1879, as a newly independent Canada broke away from the British Empire and attempted to establish a nation-state of its own (Chrisjohn et al., 2002).  It is difficult to determine what percentage of Canada’s 4.4% indigenous population (Corntassel & Holder, 2008) suffered as a result of attending residential schools between 1880 and 1960, the period highlighted in this paper, though it is approximated that 10,000 Aboriginal children were attending residential schools in the 1960s (Brasfield, 2001).  In the end, over 150,000 Aboriginal children had passed through more than 130 residential schools all across Canada, with 70,000-80,000 of these students remaining alive today (Troniak, 2011).  Over 90,000 of those aged as young as three up to eighteen years old (Kirkness, 1999; Barton et al., 2005) were forcibly separated from their families (Corntassel & Holder, 2008) and placed in government-driven, church-funded residential schools created for the purpose of assimilating Indigenous peoples, as openly declared by such dominant figureheads as John A. Macdonald (as cited in Morse, 2008).

A revival of this subject has occurred in popular media in recent years due to the government and churches’ public quasi-apologies, survivor lawsuits, and legal and monetary settlements.  Indeed, residential schools have become a representation of the nation-state’s intervention into Aboriginal families and communities, as well as the ability to dictate assimilation and the abuse of the churches’ trust responsibility (Million, 2000).  Despite this fact, the true breadth and complexity of the impact of residential schools remains under-studied by academics, and recent perspectives brought to light have only emphasized the silence and ignorance surrounding this issue.  Is there truth to the hype, or evidence that the accusations are founded – was this in fact a form of genocide, hidden from the public eye?  Do assimilation or acculturation in any way justify the actions taken by the churches on behalf of the Canadian government?

Residential schools often prevailed under the façade of ‘child protection’ facilities, available for the relocation of children judged to be living in difficult family situations or extreme poverty (Barton et al., 2005).  Though supposed by many to promote self-sufficiency among indigenous populations, it seems that the dominion’s purpose for residential schools was assimilation in order to forward their own social and colonial agenda (Miller, 1996; Million, 2000).  This included the desire to ‘free up’ land and resources reserved for the Natives and rid the government of moral, economic and legal obligations (Trevithick, 1998; Brasfield, 2001), as the Crown Lands Protection Act of 1839 had declared Indian lands to be Crown lands (Prochner, 2004).  Education of the Aboriginals was also presented as a means to an end, a manner of converting the “animalistic” First Nations peoples (still in their civilizational infancy) into proper, civilized British citizens displaying desirable social behaviours and mainstream worldviews (Miller, 1996; Chrisjohn et al., 2002).  This aim shifted the purpose of residential schools toward a mechanism by which the government could legally manage or socially control the Native population.

Consistently occurring trends and themes in the literature regarding the residential school experience span cultural conflict, alienation, poor self-concept, family breakdown, substance abuse, violence, and lack of preparation for jobs and life.  The practice of separating children from their parents effectively extinguished the traditional influences and transmission of culture in their lives, resulting in the loss of family structure, cohesion, and quality of family life.  Children who attended these schools also suffered as individuals from the loss of culture, identity, and language, resulting in the loss of self-concept and self-esteem (Barton et al., 2005).  Additionally, the unhealthy environmental conditions that students were exposed to resulted in a startling number of illnesses and deaths, while evidence of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse continues to come forward to the present day:

Anyone who says the system didn’t have a negative effect on young Indian children held captive there has never seen or felt the anger and shame that can surface at the most awkward moments.  …  I entered residential school a loved and loving child, but changed under the care of black-robed strangers (Fontaine, 2010, p. 121).

Was the nation successful in the assimilation or acculturation of Natives into the Canadian community?  Were students given a fair and benevolent opportunity to become educated Canadian citizens, or were they simply traumatized by the experiences meant to remove Aboriginal influence from society and policy?  This paper examines the intents behind and consequences of residential schooling, positing that the aims and purposes of education were to assimilate Native children into the “civilized” European image rather than provide them with tools to engage in a successful, independent future and citizenship; this reflected a hidden agenda with the goals of building a nation, including the extension of land ownership and the creation of a distinctly Canadian identity.  As a result of time spent in church-state run residential schools, rather than “ridding themselves of the Indian problem” or contributing to society at large, the Canadian government and church orders charged with the responsibility of these students succeeded only in creating chaos and destruction.  These students and their families no longer fit into their own communities nor felt at ease with their own traditions, and the generally poor quality of education left them ill-prepared to become contributing members of society, resulting in long-standing trauma and generations of mistrust, legal conflict, and substance abuse.

The terms Aboriginal, Native and First Nations will be used interchangeably throughout the discussion to refer to all Indigenous peoples of Canada.

American Education to Treat a “Lesser Evolved” People

There was a general consensus among 19th and 20th century colonialists (and unfortunately also the general public) reflecting an inferior view of the culture and methods of the Aboriginal tribes.  Sources and influences of these racially driven attitudes included “new strains of scientific racism such as Social Darwinism, the influence of British imperialist attitudes, and the spillover from the institutionalized racism…in the neighbouring United States” (Miller, 1996).  Segregation of other minorities and immigrants also paved the way for condescending attitudes and policies toward the Aboriginals.  The “childlike morality” of Aboriginals neatly explained the defects in their society, as well as their refusal to recognize one of the bases of Christian theory, original sin; education by the missionaries was therefore part of a broader assault on Aboriginal identity in their construction as “sexually depraved peoples” rather than an attempt to improve the lives of their children (Miller, 1996; Million, 2000).

Was it necessary to assimilate Aboriginal culture into a European image in order for Canada to develop as a nation?  At another time, this and other questions were considerably easier to answer: of course a civilized culture of science, technology and industry knew better than an “tribe” who remained close to nature and still lived in interdependent communities.  Miller (1996) discusses the common perception of Aboriginals as less evolved, judged according to European and North American standards to produce a number of unpleasant stereotypes, including the ‘fact’ that the Aboriginal “constitutionally dislikes work and does not feel the need of laying up stores or amassing wealth” (p. 185).  These stereotypes, though relatively harmless in the private sphere, were particularly destructive in public practice:

First Nations people have had many dreams and expectations die because of the prevailing belief that Indian people are incapable of governing themselves.  Paternalism and condescension toward our people have been the standard attitudes of federal and provincial governments and their agencies and organizations responsible for health, education, child welfare, police and social services (Fontaine, 2010, p. 151).

Were Aboriginals capable of educating themselves prior to the development of residential schools?  It seems that North American aid was not only unwelcome, but also widely unnecessary.  Neegan (2005) describes the highly developed, traditional system of education of Aboriginals based on experiences and sharing, where learning was for living and survival, and students were taught to respect the environment through observation and practice while developing mental, spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.  Youth were provided with the specific skills, attitudes and knowledge necessary to function in everyday life, and even the contributions of the youngest member of the family to household work was encouraged.  These crucial factors in Aboriginal culture – mainly, the significance of home life to education – were to be dislocated by the separation of children from their families, friends and siblings, resulting in confusion and powerlessness of both parents and children regarding their roles in the system.

On a more optimistic note, Berger (2009), professor and head of the Living Education Institute, sees a future for the traditional education of the Natives in his novel on “eco leadership” that emphasizes the power of the circle, or connectedness with all that surrounds a person.  These eco- and community-friendly methods of learning are in fact not only more evolved than the carefully designed curriculum of today, but also, Berger argues, necessary to avoid destruction in our future.  The work of teachers in the strict, unsustainable curriculum seems to limit the student’s experience of reality; we must “reconnect the way of technology with the way of nature, the way of the sacred with the way of rational knowledge, product with process, information with inspiration, learning with life” (Berger, 2009, p. 3) in order to engage in true, productive learning.  So what is it that schools really teach children – and what is it that they should teach?

Today [education] is the result of conscious design by teachers, boards of education, government policy-makers, parents and others—but not usually by the children, youth, and teenagers who attend school…  Schools tend to obscure the simple fact that the only real source of knowledge is nature.  Curriculum is too often designed as an end in itself—the student becomes secondary…  Schools, teachers, textbooks educate with one over-arching problem: all things change (Berger, 2009, p. 9).

The North American education system is designed to be efficient, but the traditional way of the Natives was to learn from the land and their experiences upon it; if the common core curriculum does not work for a large proportion of Canadian students today, it certainly would not have worked for this characteristically-distinct sub-population in the past.  Assessments focus on student performance and sophisticated reflection, but our education system – and society at large – does not necessarily promote experiential learning or quiet time for reflection.  Instead, it encourages productivity, levels of achievement, speed and efficiency, but “without the art of reflection we are confined to doing either what others are doing around us, the first thing that comes to mind, or what is expected.  And the true source of innovation, inspiration and creativity is inaccessible…ourselves” (Berger, 2009, p. 11).

These discrepancies in educational priorities resulted in a form of schooling that did not hold meaning for members of the Aboriginal population:

I couldn’t comprehend the nature of [priests’ and nuns’] teachings, the way they instilled fear and apprehension in my parents and the rest of the congregation.  I still don’t understand the power those teachings had; I can only assume that the spirituality of our people invoked a strong and deep respect and fear for the messenger and his helpers (Fontaine, 2010, p. 29-30).

Despite this lack of understanding and agreement, there was the factor of authority, the imbalance of power, which led groups who were made to feel naïve and uncertain about their right and beliefs to give in to the notions of the all-knowing, all-powerful church heads:

I’m sad now to think that Dad eventually succumbed to the system and quietly surrendered to the notion that the government controlled Indian people and that the Department of Indian Affairs was the “boss”…  The Church’s word became God’s word, no matter how wrong or misdirected the word was that came from the priests and nuns.  Their agenda was to satisfy their contract with the government to establish power and control over our people…  Our spirituality became less of an influence on our people as our Creator was replaced by a punishing God. … Mom and Dad had never been subjected to Roman Catholic Church teachings before they went to residential school, so everything they heard was new and had to be true, in their eyes, because priests said they represented Jesus Christ and God, who to us was the same as the Creator (Fontaine, 2010, p. 94-97).

In order to achieve this assimilation, to replace Aboriginal beliefs with those of the nation’s founders, education through residential schooling was thought to be the best means.  This was primarily because schools have the unique ability to socialize (and indoctrinate) students based on a provincial or federal government’s agenda, but also because children are not yet set in their beliefs, leaving them vulnerable to manipulation to instill desirable behaviours and attitudes.  It was decided by government officials that Aboriginal youth would be quicker to embrace the new religious ideals and civilized habits ingrained in them at a young age through direct instruction, especially when separated from the ‘negative’ influence of their families, elders and communities (Morse, 2008).  Finally, it was hoped and expected that the children’s training would in turn influence their parents when they returned to the community, because foreign parents were considered poor examples for their children (Prochner, 2004) – if not, it was only a matter of waiting for the elders to pass on, leaving their traditions lost and forgotten.

Motivations Behind Residential Schooling: Assimilating the Aboriginals

Theodore Fontaine’s parents dropped him off at a residential school when he was seven years old, with high hopes for his future among the comfort and amenities of white people.  By this time, attendance at residential schools was not yet mandatory, though in the future it would carry fines and threat of imprisonment for dissenting Aboriginals; regardless of the means by which children arrived at these schools, their experiences were to mirror those of young Fontaine:

Little did [my parents] know that the experience I was about to undergo for the next 12 years would shape and control my life for the next 40 or 50…  I would no longer be a son with a family structure.  I would be parented by people who’d never known the joy of parenthood and in some cases hadn’t been parented themselves (2010, p. 20).

This separation from family and distancing from traditional culture left a number of children with a sense of loneliness and abandonment, which reverberated with confusion and wistfulness throughout their experience: “I wish Dad were not so busy with his work and everything else.  I think he’d like to take me out of school to teach me how to work, but he also wants me to learn and to finish school in order to get a better job” (Fontaine, 2010, p. 16-17).  However, in the pseudo-choice offered by the government – of bad education or no education at all – many parents had no option but to turn to residential schooling for the sake of their children’s future in a predominantly white man’s world (Chrisjohn et al., 2002).

Despite any intent to genuinely educate Aboriginals, an organized curriculum was only loosely applied in actual practice and more than 40 percent of the teaching staff had no professional diploma (Morse, 2008).  Half-days were spent in formal instruction of reading, writing, arithmetic, geometry, British history and geography – all in all, an attack on Aboriginal culture and knowledge (Neegan, 2005).  Native languages were banned for the most part and their use was often punished severely (Miller, 1996); without the ability to transmit culture or communicate traditions, the demise of individual Aboriginal languages and cultures was considered to be only a matter of time.  Outside of the rote instruction of this often-inadequate curriculum, churches used the children’s labour to support the institutions charged with supporting them: girls engaged in domestic help in white women’s homes, while the boys were trained in labour-heavy farm work (Miller, 1996; Kirkness, 1999; Million, 2000).  Even a strictly enforced dress code, which had members of the church sharing the glory of success in before-and-after pictures, communicated the message that children should be ashamed of their inferior culture (Miller, 1996; Neegan, 2005): “At school she was taught that all the things she had learned at home were ‘ugly’…  At school she learned to hate, not simply the people who oppressed her, but herself and her race as well” (Miller, 1996).

The question of how these events were permitted to happen in the face of their devastating consequences is beyond the scope of this paper.  Suffice it to present that government policy and aims opened the doors for the abuse of Aboriginals, charging the churches with their moral instruction, with the aims that public education would promote social and economic stability and social amelioration in a young, growing nation.  Fontaine (2010) shares his disappointing firsthand account of this treatment throughout the course of his education:

I find it very perplexing and sad to realize now that my life at the school during those years didn’t contribute anything that helped or prepared me for the outside world.  We lived with a routine based on fear, caution, shame, guilt, and an overwhelming need to appear to be good and to obey the rules and wishes of the nuns and priests (p. 49).

Scholars may never agree on what exactly the government was trying to accomplish with elements of the residential school system.  In the end, it is the consequences of racism in the implementation of these schools, and not necessarily the intent to convert Aboriginals into the image and beliefs of Europeans, that has left a dark legacy of mistrust and psychological damage:

The system was designed by the federal government to eliminate First Nations people from the face of our land and country, to rob the world of a people simply because our values and beliefs did not fit theirs.  The system was racist and based on the assumption that we were not human but rather part animal, to be desavaged and moulded into something we could never become—white (Fontaine, 2010, p. 20).

Implications of Residential Schools: The Genocide of a Culture

Members of Aboriginal families touched by the residential schooling system were silenced until midway through the twentieth century, hidden outside of dominant Canadian public discourse (Million, 2000).  Their recounts of trauma and loss are only now becoming known to members of the general public, ranging from loss of language and health to post-traumatic stress disorder and the implications of the attempted extinction of Aboriginal culture.

The worst of these stories are with regards to the mass deaths and illnesses caused within and by the schools, which must precede a discussion of the continuing health implications for residential school survivors.  Common was the so-called “murderous practice” of deliberately exposing healthy children to smallpox and tuberculosis, when persistent food shortages and “cutting corners” on healthcare already left them weak, leading to a death rate of approximately 50% of students at the turn of the century (Kirkness, 1999; Chrisjohn et al., 2002; Morse, 2008).  While this was brought to light as early as 1907, when the Ottawa Citizen ran a shocking exposition piece titled “Schools Aid White Plague” about the high death tolls in residential schools caused by inattention to bare necessities of health that allowed the spread of tuberculosis, little to nothing was done to remediate the poor conditions suffered daily by Aboriginal students.  If this neglect of health were not dire enough, the Vancouver Sun reported in 2000 that between 1940-50, students in residential schools in British Columbia and Ontario were used as unwilling participants in unethical experiments with diet and dental work, which often involved the withholding of necessary treatment.

In terms of continuing health problems in Aboriginal society, Barton et al. (2005) surveyed 687 residents from Bella Coola Valley in British Columbia to compare perceptions of health and quality of life of Aboriginal residential school survivors (n = 47) alongside two control groups: Aboriginal non-residential school attendees (n = 60) and non-Aboriginals (n = 94), matched for age and gender.  Analyses from 33 questions derived from the 2001 Determinants of Health and Quality of Life Survey focused on comparisons across health status, quality of life outcome measures, physician visits, and disease prevalence rates.  Though limitations of the study included a small sample by way of nonrandom, convenience sampling and the use of a survey designed for non-Aboriginals, results were consistent with previous contemporary findings.

The findings of this study (Barton et al., 2005) suggest that Aboriginals from both groups experience poorer health and quality of life compared to non-Aboriginals, as well as higher rates of diabetes – the only significant difference between the Aboriginal groups (p < 0.001) was the self-health rating, in which residential school survivors reported lower scores.  While this presents evidence contrary to received views of the devastation of residential school experiences, it is speculated that the perception of lower health among residential school survivors may suggest a high prevalence of a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) specific to this vulnerable population and named thusly: residential school syndrome.

Features of residential school syndrome as documented in the literature include: recurrent intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance of experiences reminiscent of the past, relationship dysfunction, diminished interest and participation in cultural activities, sleep difficulties, anger problems, and a tendency toward substance abuse (Brasfield, 2001; Barton et al., 2005).  Brasfield, a psychiatrist who collected stories from First Nations patients treated for trauma and abuse, emphasizes the need for efforts and funding to eliminate residential school syndrome within current generations in Canada.

Fontaine (2010) endured the residential school experience for twelve years, and from his encounters developed the practice of retreating into his mind and memories that became a lifelong survival skill.  His boarding school was located just a mile from his own home on a reserve in Manitoba, but even this short distance of separation resulted in the confusion, trauma, blame and mistrust commonly associated with Residential School Syndrome:

I had felt an overwhelming anger toward my parents as they walked away…  I learned years later, in a session with a therapist, that this abandonment not only had a huge effect on my personality and how I’d lived to that point, but also gave rise to a reaction in me—guilt and guilt transfer—that had affected everyone I knew…  I think all residential school survivors suffer from this…  You feel guilt for the most insignificant things, even when it doesn’t make the slightest sense (p. 33).

While the physical abuses laid upon the students were of a serious and traumatizing nature, it is amply demonstrated that the most common result of time spent in residential schools was emotional abuse and neglect:

I used to think…that our “protectors and guardians” were insufficiently trained and incapable of helping.  …I detected cruel satisfaction in some of these supervisors and now realize that they were simply mean. …Their biases and unreasonable reactions to children must have been, in part, a result of their own upbringing.  They had learned well how to order, dictate to and use superior force to run the schools (Fontaine, 2010, p. 43).

Worse yet, leaders of the church, charged with acting as models for their “savage” charges – most importantly, as models of proper and productive sex – were torn between their responsibility and hiding their own desires.  However, most of the clandestine relations between Native children and their guardians were about coercion and not the sex act itself (Million, 2000).  Members of the schools became implicated in the protection of silence surrounding all facets of sexuality, which opened the doors further to the possibility for abuse.  Fontaine (2010) provides a disturbing firsthand account of the abuse he suffered at the hands of his “guardians and protectors”, the priests:

Is anyone watching me?  I can feel eyes on me…  It’s my time for ménage—that weekly ritual, the washing of the genitals by a man in a black robe…  If I go, the devil will not hang around me and give me bad thoughts, because clean crotches drive him away.  He likes dirty crotches.  I wonder if they wash the girls, too…  It feels like my crotch is more prominently exposed.  I feel nauseated, my muscles tighten, my jaw feels rigid, and I wonder if I can walk…  I wonder why older boys don’t have to go for ménage anymore… I think about the shop teacher, H., and wonder if he confesses to Father P.  I wonder if he sinned when he pulled out his penis in front of me and commanded me to sit on the chair in front of him…  This is one of the most belittling, embarrassing and hurtful memories I have had since then…  This ritual of “staying clean” happened every week or two over the years for many of the younger boys.  It stopped when we became older and bigger, and our determination to threaten, maim, hurt or even kill our tormentors gave us the power to refuse the treatment (p. 14-20).

The results of these abuses are widely documented in their effects on modern Aboriginal culture.  In his memoir, Fontaine (2010) refers to the insinuation that “all Indians [become] alcohols,” one that even he was prone to believing at one time.  Over the course of his healing journey, Fontaine realized that alcohol was “merely a means of coping with other, bigger problems” (p. 120).  Substance abuse has not seen adequate academic examination, especially in relation to the residential schooling experiences from previous generations.  Rothe et al. (2006) employed a Talking Circle, a method consistent with traditional cultural practice, in order to better understand this problem in light of the traumatizing events only recently brought to light in the media and political circles.  Their findings suggest that the “wall of silence” created between the young and the old (through the elimination of a shared language via residential schooling) is in part responsible for the widespread occurrence of alcohol abuse and impaired driving among certain First Nations communities.  The authors conclude that residential schools contributed to systemic socio-cultural problems influencing Aboriginal population, including the loss of parenting skills, presenting a need for community-based intervention strategies to promote cultural healing.

In the end, it was not simply the spirits of the students that were broken: ironically, morality also suffered as a result of observing hypocritical and punishing guardians involved in deception on a regular basis, limiting the future abilities of students to succeed in a society that demanded honesty and work ethic:

Father B…taught us to lie to accomplish what we wanted, and to be untruthful about what we accomplished in our work…  It was easy to lie because a priest could do it, too.  The biggest problem to overcome as an adult worker was my need to be free after having been confined during my childhood…  Even after just a few days on a job, I would feel choked and restricted (Fontaine, 2010, p. 158).


As evidenced in the research, the roles of Aboriginals in their own societies have been forever altered by the intrusion of government and church.  Seven generations of Aboriginals passed through the Canadian residential school system, and while many former students report positive experiences and benefits, these memories coexist with those of trauma and loss (Troniak, 2011).  The various instances of child transfer and neglect leading to illness and/or death, with the intent of replacing the Aboriginal standards of belief with those of Euro-Canadians, meet several of the qualifications of genocide as outlined by the United Nations Genocide Convention.  These include the deliberate infliction of conditions upon a group with the intent of bringing about its physical destruction in whole or in part, casting serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group and, of course, forcibly transferring children of the group to another group; it is impossible to deny that this legal definition applies to the actions carried out by Canadians against indigenous peoples (Chrisjohn et al., 2002).

Implications for the Canadian government aside, the lasting psychological effects of residential schooling in Canada have been emotionally stunting for many of the survivors of these institutions:

Those of us from residential schools were mentally crippled by the experience and clueless about what we were or were supposed to be.  …  They were trapped at age seven or slightly older in psychological, emotional and spiritual age.  For many, it has proved difficult or impossible to recover” (Fontaine, 2010, p. 120).

There is a silver lining for survivors of residential schools, however, especially where open discussion allows the investigation of patterns of behaviour to help sufferers understand the effects of their personal experiences on their lives.  Truth commissions and monetary retributions are only a part of the battle; more than a general acknowledgement of the harms suffered is required to help victims of residential schools move forward with purpose and potential.  It must also be acknowledged that Canada, through the government’s blind desire for assimilation, lost many great contributions from its First Nations citizens as a result of the policies that allowed the residential school system to persist.  It is important for future research to examine the gender roles at play in this complex issue, as well as carefully examine “behind the scenes” of church involvement in order to address other facets of the problem before the maltreatment of Aboriginals can be resolved and left in the past.

There is very little evidence that residential schooling was a result of misplaced enthusiasm for the missionary imperative or to provide aid to a population in need of education.  Instead, the aims and purposes of specialized institutions to assimilate Native children into the “more civilized” European image resulted in a distancing of family and culture that led to generations of trauma, poor self-concept, and non-adaptive behaviour in the forms of mistrust, cultural conflict, and substance abuse.


Barton, S. S., Thommasen, H. V., Tallio, B., Zhang, W., & Michalos, A. C.  (2005).  Health and quality of life of Aboriginal residential school survivors, Bella Coola Valley, 2001.  Social Indicators Research, 73(2), 295-312.

Berger, D. A.  (2009).  Eco leadership: The power of the circle.  Toronto, ON: Living University Press.

Brasfield, C. R.  (2001).  Residential school syndrome.  BC Medical Journal, 43(2), 78-81.

Chrisjohn, R. D., Wasacase, T., Nussey, L., Smith, A., Legault, M., Loiselle, P., & Bourgeois, M.  (2002).  Genocide and Indian residential schooling: The past is present.  Canada and International Humanitarian Law: Peacekeeping and War Crimes in the Modern Era.  Halifax, NS: Dalhousie University Press.

Corntassel, J. & Holder, C.  (2008).  Who’s sorry now? Government apologies, truth commissions, and indigenous self-determination in Australia, Canada, Guatamala, and Peru.  Human Rights Review, 9(4), 11-35.

Fontaine, T.  (2010).  Broken circle: The dark legacy of Indian residential schools: A memoir.  Calgary, AB: Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd.

Kirkness, V. J.  (1999).  Aboriginal education in Canada: A retrospective and a prospective.  Journal of American Indian Education, 39(1), 97-121.

Miller, J. R.  (1996).  Shingwauk’s vision: A history of Native residential schools.  Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press Inc.

Million, D.  (2000).  Telling secrets: Sex, power and narratives in Indian residential school histories.  Canadian Woman Studies, 20(2), 92-104.

Morse, B. W.  (2008).  Government responses to the Indian residential schools settlement in Canada: Implications for Australia.  American Indian Law Review, 12(1), 41-59.

Native kids ‘used for experiments’.  (2000, April 26).  [Clipping from the Vancouver Sun, BC newspaper].  Retrieved from

Neegan, E.  (2005).  Excuse me: who are the first peoples of Canada?  A historical analysis of Aboriginal education in Canada then and now.  International Journal of Inclusive Education, 9(1), 3-15.

Prochner, L.  (2004).  Early childhood education programs for indigenous children in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand: An historical review.  Australian Journal of Early Childhood, 29(4), 7-16.

Rothe, J. P., Makokis, P., Steinhauer, L., Aguiar, W., Makokis, L., & Brertton, G.  (2006).  The role played by a former federal government residential school in a First Nation community’s alcohol abuse and impaired driving: Results of a talking circle.  International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 65(4), 347-356.

School aid white plague.  (1907, November 15).  [Clipping from the Ottawa Citizen, ON newspaper].  Retrieved from

Trevithick, S.  (1998).  Native residential schooling in Canada: A review of literature.  The Canadian Journal of Native Studies, 18(1), 49-86.

Troniak, S.  (2011).  Addressing the legacy of residential schools (Report no. 2011-76-E).  Ottawa, ON: Library of Parliament.

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Educational | 2 Comments

A late-night philosophical examination of God by an atheist

I’m studying the token chapter on continental philosophy like in both degrees before, but this time it reads differently. This time, I think I can say that my new lifestyle and attitude have turned me [at least in part] existentialist.

If there’s a God, I hope it’s Martin Buber‘s “partner in dialogue…with whom individuals communicate in an I-Thou relation.” Deeear Diary.

Or Paul Tillich‘s God, close to the “ultimate concern” that guides your life and gives it integrity, vital because responsibility accompanies freedom.

After all, aren’t self-reflection and passionate duty two main tenets of many Western religions?

I don’t think religion should be awe of higher power; it needs to be the transfer of guiding principles to a life free from guilt and regret. Then it can take some of the burden off the public education system! (Har har.)

Of course, I’m not one to make a point of avoiding guilt and regret.

October 3, 2011 Posted by | Reading, Time to Kill, Writing | , , , , | 1 Comment

I think I’m in love.

See Animal Review now for one of the most awesome decisions of your current existence. As a candidate for teacher’s certification in the next year certified, qualified teacher and first-year Master of Education student (!), I know how I’m going to be educating children about our fellow Earth-dwellers.

See especially my current favourites, Africanized Honey Bees aka. Killer Bees and Jellyfish. You won’t regret it. (Please don’t forget me.)

Ahh, how often do I get to tag something as educational and funny?

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April 13, 2010 Posted by | Educational, Funny | , , , , , | 2 Comments

What? How do you sell things?


April 5, 2010 Posted by | Funny, Internet Content, South Park, Television | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook: Pick One.

March 28, 2010 Posted by | Funny | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ex-Girlfriend

Usually, ex-whatevers aren’t a huge topic of interest for me, unless the person is just so ridiculous you can’t realistically feel sorry for the loss.

My friend dated this girl for about a year until her partying habits hit full swing. They still hang out in the same group of friends, attend the same parties, and are even Facebook friends. But doesn’t mean he has to play nice.

I present to you Exhibit A, a) evidence of Facebook’s only use to me as a social being, and b) proof of my friend’s ex-girlfriend being a dumbass:

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Funny | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leonard Cohen, Lovelies.

Leonard Cohen

Image via Wikipedia

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack, a crack, in everything…

That’s how the light gets in.

Sometimes it blows my mind how much I am in love with music, music with beautiful words.

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December 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

I’m Looking Through You

When you peel away our layers, we are all just as vulnerable as the other. And we’re incredible.

A broken rib, a beating heart

A broken rib, a beating heart

A slave to our senses

A slave to our senses

An inner self, and an outer self.

As we see ourselves.

If we look deep enough, we all find a flaw; a scar, near-sightedness, a fracture…If it’s physical, we can accept that it needs rehab. It deserves a little support, if only to avoid a permanent limp.

God, your mind is a beautiful thing – enough already! Pull off the band-aid and give it some air. Talk to me. I’ve been there.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Depression, Writing | , , , , , | Leave a comment


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