I stumbled across this article and found it interesting. THere are many parellels between this an our own situation in Ireland.
Hundreds of indigenous Canadians are to give evidence before a commission of their experiences at state-funded schools set up to enforce assimilation.
About 150,000 children attended the Church-run boarding schools which operated up to the 1970s.
The pupils were forced to abandon their cultural identity and many were physically and sexually abused.
The schools, which operated from the late 19th Century, were designed to assimilate the children into European-Canadian society by removing their language, religion and culture.
"The things that happened for generations of children, just removed from their homes. How can you say to a child, we're going to take away your parents, your sisters, your brothers your home - everything? You are going to be up for grabs for anyone who wants to do anything to you. And it was done."
BBC News - Native Canadians to recall boarding school abuseThe foundations of the system were the pre-confederation Gradual Civilization Act (1857) and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869). These assumed the inherent superiority of British ways, and the need for Indians to become English-speakers, Christians, and farmers. At the time, Aboriginal leaders wanted these acts overturned.
Canadian Indian residential school system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaI have read some absolutley shocking accounts of what happened to Natives in these schools, stories that make Letterfrack look like Butlins (and that is not meant to understate the horror of Letterfrack, but to provide a point of comparison).Act to Encourage the Gradual Civilization of Indian Tribes in this Province, and to Amend the Laws Relating to Indians (commonly known as the Gradual Civilization Act) was a bill passed by the 5th Parliament of the Province of Canada in 1857.
The treaty built on the "Act for the Protection of the Indians in Upper Canada" passed in 1839, but required the "enfranchisement" of any recognized male Indian over the age of 21 "able to speak, read and write either English or the French language readily and well, and is sufficiently advanced in the elementary branches of education and is of good moral character and free from debt." An "enfranchised" Indian would no longer retain the "legal rights and habilities of Indians" and would "no longer be deemed an Indian" but a regular British subject. Such enfranchisement was mandatory, but any male Indian could be voluntarily enfranchised despite an inability to read or write, or a lack of school education, so long as he spoke English or French, and was found to be "of sober and industrious habits, free from debt and sufficiently intelligent to be capable of managing his own affairs." Voluntary enfranchisement, however, required a three year probation term before it would come into legal effect.
Enfranchisement required that Indians choose a surname (to be approved by appointed commissioners) by which they would become legally known. The wife and descendants of an enfranchised Indian would also be enfranchised, and would no longer be considered members of the former tribe, unless they were to regain Indian status through another marriage.
Enfranchised Indians were entitled to "a piece of land not exceeding fifty acres out of the lands reserved or set apart for the use of his tribe" as allotted by the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, and "a sum of money equal to the principal of his share of the annuities and other yearly revenues receivable by or for the use of such tribe." This land and money would become their property, but by accepting it, they would "forego all claim to any further share in the lands or moneys then belonging to or reserved for the use of [their] tribe, and cease to have a voice in the proceedings thereof."[1
It is encouraging to see the past wrongs done against these people brought to light and addressed.
They experienced not just the brutality of the schools themselvs, but also the fact the that these schols were only one part of a national campaign to destroy there culture and heritage.
The fact that Enfranchised (just goes to show double speak is nothing new) males were forced by their compulsory Enfrachised status to give up their tribal status (and any legal tribal ties to the land) reminds me of Irish penal laws that would grant the totality of inherited land to a son who converted to protestantism.
A device to divide.