What is the root cause of Aboriginal education issues

April 08, 2015

Fifty-eight per cent of young adults living on-reserve in Canada have not completed high school, according to the 2011 National Household Survey census results. And that’s an increase from the 2006 census results. How did this come about?

residential_school

The root cause of today’s Aboriginal education issues began with the passing of the British North America Act [1] in 1867. Prior to that, the relationship between the federal government and Aboriginal Peoples had been on a Nation-to-Nation basis. With the passing of the BNA the relationship shifted significantly to the Aboriginal Peoples becoming wards of the Crown – and the federal government was given authority to make laws about “Indians and lands reserved for Indians”, thereby marking the beginning of the dark era of enforced cultural assimilation.

 

In 1884, Indian agents, under direction of the Indian Act mandate, and later the RCMP, began forcibly removing children from families and placing them in residential schools. The “logic” behind the removal of over 150,000 children during this era (the last residential school closed in 1996) was that it was the best route to assimilation because it “…took the Indian from the reserve and kept him in the constant circle of civilization, assured attendance, removed him from the “retarding influence of his parents…” [2] In order for Aboriginal People to be successfully assimilated into Euro-Canadian society, their cultures, languages, and traditions had to be taken away.

 

Indian residential schools provided at most a rudimentary education. The majority of the “learning” was focused on religious indoctrination and manual labour skills. The children who survived faced a harsh and lonely future – many had been sexually and emotionally abused, they could not return to their traditional lives as they had lost their language and traditions, and they did not have an adequate education so they were hampered in their ability to succeed socially or economically.

 

It is well documented that it takes consistent home support for a child to stay the course and graduate from high school. But what if the home is made up of adults who are direct and/or intergenerational survivors of the residential school system?  Even if they did graduate it was often not with a great standard of education. This means they are less able to help their children with homework assignments, especially in the tougher subjects, and they may be less supportive in terms of encouraging their children to graduate.

 

The effects of the Indian residential school system are intergenerational, comprehensive, deep, and ongoing. The attempted assimilation process which directly impacted many generations not only underscored the relationship between Aboriginal Peoples and the government, churches, and the RCMP, but implanted a deep distrust of schools, teachers and administrators.

 

The next time you hear about Aboriginal education issues, understanding the issues will help answer questions why they may not have a grade 12 education, why they may not be job ready, may not have a driver’s license, and may not be interested in attaining any of the above.

 

[1] British North America Act is now known as the Constitution Act

[2] Davin Report, 1879

 

If you would like to learn more about residential schools and how to interact with residential school survivors, I cover these topics and much more in my workshops. Click the image to see if we are coming to a city near you. 

 

indigenous-relations-training

 

 

Here's are three free ebooks to help you on your way to Working Effectively with Aboriginal Peoples®

 

 tips-what-no-to-say-to-Indigenous-Peoples 27-working-effectively-with-Indigenous-Peoples-tips Indigenous-Peoples-A-Guide-to-Terminology

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Aboriginal Education, Indigenous Issues

Click for more info on our eLearning

About this Blog

Let this blog be your guide to Working Effectively with Indigenous Peoples®. We have hundreds of articles loaded with tips, suggestions, videos, and free eBooks for you. Happy reading!

Monthly Bulletin

Recent Posts

Indigenous Corporate Training Inc., provides information on this blog for free as a resource for those seeking information about Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Readers looking for more detailed information, or who have questions, can sign up for our fee-for-service training. Also, ICT encourages everyone who reads this information to use their best judgment given their own circumstances, vulnerabilities, and needs, and to contact a consulting or legal professional if you have more specific questions. Join the conversation over on our Linkedin page.