residential schools

Residential schools in Canada deemed a National Historic Event

“A tragedy born from colonial policies.”

The government of Canada has added residential schools for Indigenous children to a list of National Historic Events. The residential school system is a blight on Canadian history wherein kids were separated from their families, robbed of their cultural heritage and mistreated physically (sometimes sexually) as well as psychologically and emotionally. There were 139 residential schools operating in Canada from the 1870s to as recently as the mid-1990s, 11 of which were in Quebec.

The announcement was made by Canadian Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who is also responsible for historic sites and monuments.

“There has been a severe under-representation of Indigenous places, events, people and sites recognized by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board,” Wilkinson said.

In addition to residential schools being added to a list of 491 other “events,” two sites where such schools used to stand — one on the Long Plain First Nation near Portage la Prairie Manitoba, where the building still exists, the other in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, which has been replaced by a plastics factory — have been deemed National Historic Sites by the federal government. More sites might receive the same designation in the future, with consultation and consent of the community in question. This move was one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. ■

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