Simratt P.

Surrey , British Columbia

Surrey Regional Heritage Fair

Cultural Genocide: Residential Schools

This project discusses about the cultural genocide — residential schools in Canada. This project “Cultural Genocide: Residential Schools,” is about the residential schools which were established by the federal government and operated by the Catholic, Anglican, and Methodist churches to educate the First Nations communities. Our project explores how these schools destroyed the Indigenous culture because Indigenous beliefs and culture were thought to be inferior compare to Euro-Canadian and Christian ways of living. The torture and diseases took many lives due to get sick and died, run away, disappear, and committed suicide. The schoolyards turned into graveyards. This system of torture on these students left many long-lasting psychological and emotional effects on following generations of the First Nation communities; however, there was a healing process that began by the Canadian government for the identified victims after 1996. Even though this typical school system got completely destroyed and vanished, it is very important for us to know what happened to the first nation communities in residential schools because many of families lost their family members. Truth and Reconciliation Commission final report release with testimony of 7000 survivors of residential schools. Our all future generations and Canadians must consider and know that it will never happen again because every child’s life matters.

What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?

Learning about Canadian heritage history about residential schools will remind us of their culture and traditions that they have some values too that they must follow. We learned that residential schools were very harmful for the new settlers in Canada and cause a lot of destruction of First Nation lives. Residential schools were a very bad way for the government and Catholic churches to implement Christianity. Residential schools of rules were very horrific. They caused the settlers to forget their identity, religion, language, etc. The settlers were forced to go to residential schools and if they resisted, they were tortured and embarrassed in front of everyone. Finally, these schools were resisted by the First Nations, and closed down. We also learned that there is resistance occurs when something is not delivering its actual motive.

What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?

We learned that Residential Schools were created for Indigenous people to educate them about the Canadian society and transform them to adapt modern Canadian society. Also, they were opened to make the First Nation communities civilized, but at the end they end up taking over to deliberate cultural genocide of Indigenous people. The most interesting thing that we have learned that students’ age were 3 years, and this is a very young age when some kids don’t even learn to speak all words properly. The more shocking and interesting facts were that there were all types of child abuse such as psychological, mental, physical, and emotional abuse took place in these schools. While we were doing this project, It was more emotional and shocking when 215 bodies/remains of children discovered in the Kamloops Indian Residential School last week. The name plate shows 4-15 years old were forcefully taken from homes to admitted into these schools but the found remains included the youngest age 3 years old which was told in the news media last week.

How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?

Comparing everyone’s life today to those who attended the residential schools is very different like how people suffered in Residential Schools. Now these schools don’t exist anymore, but we all have our values and culture because Canada is a diverse country. In the past, many people took things for granted and not value Indigenous people’s past. The First Nation communities are much better now when they don’t have to go to these schools anymore. Also, now, when they go to schools, they study there rather than work. There are federal, provincial and local schools are operated in the First Nation communities now. Truth and Reconciliation Commission is present for the Residential Schools' Survivors.