Forced attendance at residential schools in Canada has left some indigenous people suspicious of the education they deliver.
These government-run schools were operational from the 19th century until the last one closed in 1996. Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend such schools as it was felt this was the best way to prepare them for “modern” life.
However, with many indigenous students experiencing discrimination, physical, emotional and sexual abuse while attending the schools – and with over 6,000 dying there – an enduring legacy of mistrust has been created.
According to a recent survey published in the Canadian Review of Sociology, parents who formerly attended these schools still harbour ill-feelings towards them now that their own children are being educated.
Today’s Canadian education system involves parent participation – and, for the current indigenous students whose parents are suspicious of the system, this could mean reduced participation and decreased educational advantage.
However, in several Canadian regions, efforts are being made to repair the damage done and to incorporate indigenous curriculum into mainstream classrooms.