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Research Reveals Role of Churches and Religious Groups in Residential Schools


Samuel Torres:

Well, I think it’s important to state first that while much more is known about what happened at these federal Indian boarding schools than at the privately controlled ones, I think it’s is where these archival documents are really extremely important to be consulted, to be able to understand what the depth of these details looks like.

What we do know, however, is that the treatment and methods of operation of Indian boarding schools employed much of the same strategies toward a central goal of assimilating Aboriginal children, as we have heard so often in our own work, individuals being deprived of the influences and ties of their families, their communities, their tribal nations are often punished for speaking their own language, practicing their traditions and sometimes even undergoing severe punishment, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse and even death.

So we keep asking the same kind of questions about what happened in those institutions. We are told and hear the stories of our loved ones, our friends, those we relate to at the Healing Coalition of how they were treated in these facilities whether they were in government run facilities federal government or in establishments under private control.

And, quite honestly, now is the time for us to be able to look at what that treatment looked like from the source of those documents, because we have those stories. And it’s not that those stories haven’t been told. It’s because they weren’t listened to.

And if they can be coupled through access to these records, we can begin to look, in a more holistic effort, at a fuller scope of what happened in these Indian boarding schools, whether they’re under control federally or privately managed.


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