Home News The Enduring Cruelty of Canada’s Residential Schools

The Enduring Cruelty of Canada’s Residential Schools


Linda will always remember the shoes, black oxfords that all students had to wear. These shoes were an integral part of the school uniform and were worn by every Indian child who crossed the Anglo-Saxon line to respectability. Linda was surprised by their weight; they felt heavy at the ends of her spindly legs. They were made to shine until Linda could see her face through the leather. She was forbidden from leaving her dorm without them. Shoes were a common fashion choice for civilized people. Don’t ever forget them, the students were warned.

Linda arrived in 1970, and the Brandon Indian Residential School had already been in operation for 70 years. It opened its doors in 1895, as one of many residential schools run by churches and funded by Canada. They were created to break the connection between Indigenous children’s cultures and to help Indians integrate into the Euro-Christian mainstream. The government sought to lower its costs by partnering with churches which were more interested than in salaries. Between the opening of the first such school in 1880 until the closing of the last one in 1996, more than 150,000 Indigenous children attended such institutions, including both of Maureen’s parents…

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