Clink the play button below to hear the English and Halq’emeylem pronunciation of the title of this tab

Big Idea: 

Justice Murray Sinclair, first used the term “cultural genocide” during the closing ceremonies of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), June 2, 2015. The TRC report read:

Cultural genocide is the destruction of those structures and practices that allow the group to continue as a group. States that engage in cultural genocide set out to destroy the political and social institutions of the targeted group. Land is seized, and populations are forcibly transferred and their movement is restricted. Languages are banned. Spiritual leaders are persecuted, spiritual practices are forbidden, and objects of spiritual value are confiscated and destroyed. And, most significantly to the issue at hand, families are disrupted to prevent the transmission of cultural values and identity from one generation to the next. In its dealing with Aboriginal people, Canada did all these things.(Emphasis added)                                                                              National Post, “’Cultural genocide’ controversy around long before it was applied to Canada’s residential schools.” Joseph Brean, June 3, 2015.

In considering the recommendations of the TRC, Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader, said, ” “These recommendations give us the means to work with aboriginal communities to begin to overcome the historical and ongoing injustices of brutal colonialism and cultural genocide.”

Inquiry Question:

What information and truths have lead to the general acceptance that the Indian Residential School system in Canada was a deliberate act of cultural genocide?

Core Competency: Thinking

“When the school is on the reserve the child lives with its parents, who are savages; he is surrounded by savages, and though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write. It has been strongly pressed on myself, as the head of the Department, that the Indian children should be withdrawn as much as possible from the parental influence, and the only way to do that would be to put them in central training industrial schools where they will acquire the habits and modes of thought of white men.” — Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, Official report of the debates of the House of Commons of the Dominion of Canada, 9 May 1883, 1107–1108. (Retrieved From: Historica Canada, Residential Schools, p.2)

Print Resources: (available to borrow from Siwal Si’wes Library)

Digital Resources:

Click here for the multimedia exploration of Gord Downey’s “Secret Path”

Click Here to get Grade 7-9 SECRET PATH lesson plans

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The video below outlines a comprehensive history of Canada and the implementation of Residential Schools

Savage, by Lisa Jackson: “On a summer day in the 1950s, a native girl watches the countryside go by from the backseat of a car. A woman at her kitchen table sings a lullaby in her Cree language. When the girl arrives at her destination, she undergoes a transformation that will turn the woman’s gentle voice into a howl of anger and pain.

In a place like this, there aren’t many chances to be a kid. But, when no one’s watching…

A residential school musical. ” (Lisa Jackson, filmmaker)

Namwayut: we are all one (Source: CBC)

“Chief Robert Joseph shares his experience as a residential school survivor and the importance of truth and reconciliation in Canada.”


Residential Schools of Canada Map:

BC Indian Residential Schools: