2 Legacy

The Legacy of the Residential Schools system is still felt in Indigenous communities, even by those who did not attend. Many of the socioeconomic and health conditions faced by indigenous peoples are a direct result of the legacy of residential schools.The demanding physical labour in combination with the lack of adequate food, lead many students to contract illnesses or have unhealthy relationships with food later on in life. Diabetes and obesity face many survivors who struggled to learn healthy eating habits after their time in residential school.

The removal from parental love and family support during their formative years left many former students without the skills to parent their own children in a healthy way. Students who were victims of sexual and physical abuses in school found this to be especially challenging. School curriculum instilled a sense of worthlessness and low self-esteem in many of the students, which has contributed to substance abuse and self-harm in adulthood. Residential schools disrupted the structure and health of indigenous communities, giving child protective agencies even more opportunities to separate families once they were no longer sent to residential school.

Many students were not given instructions when they were released from the care of the Residential School. Many went back to their home reserve, however if students had not been able to travel home since leaving for school they would now be going home to a community of strangers who no longer shared the same customs or language. Many students ended up trying out large cities for work, or the nearby communities of their residential school but many survivors found that they could not fit in either the Indigenous or Canadian worlds.

The United Church of Canada apologized for its role in Residential Schools in 1986, the Anglican Church publicly apologized for their role in the system in 1993, with the Presbyterian and Methodist churches apologizing in the following years. At this time, the Roman Catholic Church, responsible for running the majority of Residential Schools, has not issued a formal apology nor does Pope Francis intend to make a statement. The government of Canada issued a formal apology in 2008 through then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was issued to the Canadian government in March of 2006 and put into effect in September of 2007. As a part of the agreement survivors received monetary compensation, monetary contributions toward the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, an apology on behalf of the Canadian Government, and a commitment to future commemoration projects.


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Healing and Reconciliation Through Education Copyright © 2019 by Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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