Indian effectively destroyed morale and took away aboriginals rights

Indian Act (slide 4)The Indian Act is a law passed in 1876 by the Canadian government. It gave the government control over all Natives people. It covered many aspects of daily life but focused on 3 things Band councils, reserves, and status. Its main goal was to control Natives & assimilate them into Canada. It basically made natives wards of the state, decided who was and wasn’t native and gave the government power to decide what the Natives could and couldn’t do with their culture. For example the government outlawed Sundances and Potlatches which were major social celebrations of culture within communities. The Indian Act effectively destroyed morale and took away aboriginals rights to practice their customs in an effort to assimilate them into Canada. Residential Schools (slide 5)In the 1870’s the Government of Canada partnered with many churches to create and run boarding residential schools for Aboriginal children. The goal of the Residential School System was to educate, assimilate, and integrate Aboriginal people into Canadian society. In the words of a government official it was a system created “to kill the Indian in the child.” Attendance at residential schools was mandatory for Aboriginal children across Canada and if you failed to send your children to residential school it resulted in the punishments sometimes including imprisonment.Many Aboriginal children were taken far away from their homes normally forcibly removed and separated from their families. Others who attended residential schools near their communities were often not allowed to see their families outside of occasional visits. Students weren’t allowed to speak their native language or practice their own culture and would get punished if they did. Many students had to take part in hard manual labour and were fed with poor quality of food. There are accounts of students being given food that was moldy, maggot infested and rotten. Many surviving students reported being sexually and mentally abused, beaten and severely punished, overcrowding, illness, forced to sleep outside during winters, forced to wear dirty underwear on the head or wet bed sheets on their body, forced participation in medical experiments, disease and sometimes cases death. Many of the individuals who survived these schools went on to develop and suffer from mental conditions such as PTSD. An intergenerational effect also developed in many descendants of school survivors. These descendants share the same problems that their older family members faced even if they did not go to residential schools themselves. These include abuse, compromised family systems, and also the loss of Aboriginal of language, culture, stories and teaching of traditions from one generation to another.60’s scoop (slide 6)The 60’s scoop was the practice of taking children from Aboriginal families in Canada and placing them up for adoption or in foster care. Each province had their own systems for this such as Saskatchewan’s AIM (Adopt Indian Metis) program. It’s estimated that 20,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and put into these systems of foster care and adoption. This government policy lasted till the mid 80’s. Many children growing up in these conditions where their identity had been suppressed and abuse was common eventually went on to experience psychological and emotional problems. For many affected children, the roots of these problems did not come out until later in life when they were older and learned about their real birth family and their heritage. Raven Sinclair, A Social work Professor describes the traumas caused by the 60s scoop as “tremendous obstacles to the development of a strong and healthy sense of identity for the transracial adoptee.” Feelings of not belonging in either Canadian society or in Aboriginal society can also add to the individuals struggle to find their true identity.


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