The Apologia Canadiana lessons for an Indian Boarding School Apologia Americana


  • Thohahoken Michael Doxtater McGill University


There are over 100 descendants of my grandmother Belva, my mother June and my older sisters Frances, Lynda, and Lillian. Indian residential schools affected all these women’s lives. Some descendants made their way in the world. Our family has artists, social activists, professionals and business people. We also have members who are part of the casualty list found in Statistics Canada 2006and in the National Aboriginal Youth Strategy (NAYS 1999). So, we also have sick people, people in jail, poor people, and people with addiction problems. Whether my relatives went to residential school and on-reserve schools, we all received an Indian Affairs education that tried to extinguish the Indian in us.

Indian residential schools and on-reserve schools were imbued with assimilation goals. The mission to “kill the Indian in the child” remains the dark proclaimed maxim of Indian extinction called by Canada’s superintendent of Indian Affairs in the early 1900s. Indian education manuals issued by the federal Department of Indian Affairs instructed teachers to cultivate "obedience to authority." Sometimes handled with care, Indian children were most often subjected to abuses by teachers of obedience. These abuses were acknowledged by the Government of Canada in its June 11, 2008 apology along with their pledge for financial redress.


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