Step 1 – Investigation into the History and Legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada

To get started, you and your learner group will begin an inquiry into the history and legacy of the Indian Residential Schooling system in Canada. This will be a life-long journey, as we are always learning.

The following questions can act as a guide to assist you in this step :

  • Who went to Indian Residential Schools in Canada?
  • Who set up the Indian Residential Schools in Canada? What organizations? Who were key people in the development of the system?
  • Why were Indian Residential Schools established? What was the goal of the government?What were the goals of the churches involved?
  • When did Indian Residential Schools operate in Canada? When did the first one open? When did the last one close?What are some of the significant dates in the residential school period?
  • What happened to the children who attended Indian Residential Schools? Did every child have the same experience? What do survivors have to say about their experiences? How did this affect parents and families? How did this affect communities? Did the impacts end when the children came home?
  • Where were Indian Residential Schools set up in Canada? What were the locations of the schools? How many were set up in each province and territory? Were they located close to the children’s homes? Were the schools in the south the same as the schools in the far north?

The next part of step 1 includes your learner group choosing a former Indian Residential School that was located near to where you live. This allows you, and your learners, to begin to understand how the people who lived on the territories that you live on today were impacted.

The following questions can act as a guide to assist you in this step :

  • Where was this Residential School located?
  • What are the years that this Residential School was operational?
  • What church or other organization operated this Residential School? Did it ever “change hands” and become operated by a different organization? If yes, what years was it operated by each church or group?
  • Upon whose traditional territory was this Residential School built?
  • Where did the children come from to attend this Residential School?
  • What were the conditions like at this Residential School?
  • What were the impacts on the children who attended the schools?
  • Find stories specific to this Residential School (these could come from survivor testimony, films, dvds, newspaper articles, reports, books, memoires, etc).
  • What are some stories that survivors have bravely told about their experiences at this school?
  • What do we know about this former Residential School today? Has the community announced any findings of unmarked graves?