Content Warning: Please note that this section covers difficult topics and Survivor stories related to residential schools that some readers may find distressing. For residential school Survivors and their families, 24-hour support is available through the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-800-721-0066. If you're a student from an Ontario college, please consult the student support services available at your college.
From 1883 to 1996, Christian churches ran more than 130 federally-funded residential schools which were created to assimilate Indigenous children into Canadian society. Over 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and youth were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in residential schools. Many children died as a result of inadequate conditions and abuse. Those who survived, experienced trauma and its continued effects. The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission report called the residential school system and act of cultural genocide by the Canadian government and Christian churches (Defining Moments in Canada).
Source: Dr. P.H. Bryce’s The Story of a National Crime (1922): A Glossary (Defining Moments in Canada; CC BY-NC)
Intergenerational or historical trauma, is trauma experienced by cultural groups as a result of oppression. When nothing is done to address the trauma, it gets passed down through generations. At the same time, harmful behaviours that arose because of the trauma eventually become normalized and continue to become present through generations (Teach for Canada). In the case of residential schools, children who were in these schools "returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations" (The Canadian Encyclopedia).
Intergenerational effects of resident schools include:
Sources: Indian Residential Schools & Intergenerational Trauma with Elder Dan Thomas (Teach for Canada) | Intergenerational Trauma and Residential Schools (The Canadian Encyclopedia)
"The Sixties Scoop is a dark and painful chapter in Canada’s history. Between the 1960s and 1980s, Indigenous children were removed from their homes by child welfare authorities and many were placed in foster care or adopted out to non-Indigenous families" (Government of Canada).
Source: Sixties Scoop Agreement in Principle (Government of Canada)