Residential Schools: A Sad Chapter in Canadian History

After collecting testimonies, over a six-year period, of the abuse suffered by former students of First Nations residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada released its summary report on June 2, 2015.

The commission concludes that residential schools were a key tool of cultural genocide against Canada's First Nations, and that only a major recommitment by the government of Canada to allow them access to equal opportunities can pave the way towards true reconciliation.

Since the late 19th century, about 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their families and forcibly sent to residential schools. The last residential school, near Regina, closed its doors in 1996.

The commission traveled across the country not only to hear from former students of First Nations residential schools, but also to facilitate reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

This collection provides a concise overview of this dark page in Canadian history.

  • 2015
  • 13-14
  • 19 Titles

Teacher Guide(s)

  • Canada's Residential School Apology

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  • Residential Schools: Truth and Healing

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Included in this collection

The National Aboriginal Children Used as Test Subjects

Newly surfaced documents shine a light on experiments that were conducted on hundreds of aboriginal individuals, most of them young children, during and following World War II. Residential schools were the testing grounds for government scientists to observe the effects of several products on the malnurished bodies of aboriginal children without their consent or even their knowing. 
  • 2013
  • 00:03:07
  • 15-17
  • Added on: 04/15/2014

As It Happens Alvin Dixon on Residential School and Nutritional Experiments

Alvin Dixon remembered being so hungry as a child that he had to steal food. Mr. Dixon was a survivor of the residential school system and a victim of a government-run malnutrition experiment. He died on July 20 at the age of 77. In his first year at a B.C. residential school, Alvin Dixon said he remembered finding it strange ...
  • 2014
  • 00:03:26
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 08/08/2014

News in Review - September 2008 Canada's Residential School Apology

In June 2008, the government of Canada apologized to Indigenous Canadians for the way they were treated in residential schools. Thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were forced into government-financed schools where many suffered physical and sexual abuse. In this News in Review story, we’ll look at that sad chapter in Canadian history and at the moving ceremony ...
  • 2008
  • 00:18:33
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 09/15/2008

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Teacher Guide(s)

  • Canada's Residential School Apology

The National Catholic bishops offer no clarity on residential school apology

Catholic bishops weren't able to offer any clarity on a potential apology for the church's role in Canada's residential schools. During a news conference, the bishops appeared to try and distance the church from its ties to the schools. Despite the setback, Indigenous leaders say they won't stop seeking an apology from the Vatican.
  • 2018
  • 00:02:08
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 05/23/2018

CBC Radio One Dying For An Education: Little Charlie

He wasn't the first residential school runaway, and he wouldn't be the last. Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack died after fleeing the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario, trying to make it to his home on the Marten Falls First Nation 600 kilometres away. When his story was chronicled by Ian Adams in Maclean's magazine, ordinary Canadians got one of their first ...
  • 2012
  • 00:11:11
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 11/07/2016

Missing & Murdered Finding Cleo, Episode 7: Lillian

Connie's chance meeting with the father who Cleo never knew is followed by new revelations about the Semaganis children's biological mother, Lillian. A picture begins to emerge about why her children were taken, and when she joined the fight to stop the adoption of more Indigenous children into white homes.
  • 2018
  • 00:31:44
  • 15-17
  • Added on: 06/15/2018

Power & Politics Justice Murray Sinclair: Nutrition Experiments on Aboriginal Children

During and following World War II residential schools were used as laboratories where scientists would test the effects of several vitamin supplements and other products on the malnurished aboriginal individuals residing there, most of them children. Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, shares his opinion and knowledge on the matter.
  • 2013
  • 00:07:13
  • 15-17
  • Added on: 04/15/2014

News in Review - September 2015 Residential School Shame: The TRC Report

In the 19th century the Canadian government set up the residential school system as a way to teach English and Christianity to Aboriginal children. Successive generations were taken from their families and put in boarding schools run by churches. Over the years, many of the children suffered physical, mental and even sexual abuse. Many died. In 2008 the Truth and ...
  • 2015
  • 00:18:20
  • 13-14
  • Added on: 09/18/2015

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Teacher Guide(s)

  • NIR-15-09 - Residential School Shame: The TRC Report