Hear from former students about their traumatic experiences attending Indian residential schools.
The term Inuit refers broadly to the Arctic indigenous population of Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. Inuit means “people,” and the language they speak is called Inuktitut, though there are regional dialects that are known by slightly different names. Today, the Inuit communities of Canada live in the Inuit Nunangat—loosely defined as “Inuit homeland”—which is divided into four regions.
Anthropologists argue that all societies educate, train, or mentor their sons and daughters. While many do not have formal schools, they can, nevertheless, have an education system that helps younger generations socialize into the norms and expectations of their parents by learning the language, skills, and values needed to become productive members of society. Indigenous societies were no different. First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people had traditions, histories, and teaching systems that reflected their experience and directed their lives. The idea that Western culture was superior and that the Indigenous Peoples needed to be Christianized and civilized came from the biases of Europeans and their unwillingness to appreciate the complex, largely unwritten teaching processes inside indigenous communities.
What action can bring closure to episodes of conflict and mass violation of human rights? What can help create goodwill and trust between groups in the aftermath of such tragic events? Because of the massive lawsuit it faced, the government was almost forced to focus on the Indian Residential Schools, and it set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2008 to address those issues. So what is a truth and reconciliation commission? What are its goals?
Duncan Campbell Scott was to run the residential school system at its peak— that is, between 1913 and 1932. Scott was what might be called an extreme assimilationist. As a career civil servant, he was involved in Aboriginal affairs throughout his career (he proposed several amendments to the Indian Act and negotiated one of the major treaties). More importantly, he oversaw the operation of the residential schools.