Residential Schools

  • The Dark Side of Canada

    Indian Residential Schools

    Lesson Overview

    Canadian Indian Residential School System

    Rationale: The purpose of these lessons requires student(s) to critically engage the subject matter regarding the Indian Act and the impact and legacy of the Residential School System in Canada.

    Introduction to Residential School Unit Prescribed Learning Outcome(s):

    Demonstrate knowledge of the challenges faced by Aboriginal people in Canada during the 20th century and their responses regarding:

    • Residential schools

    • Reserves

    • Self-government

     • Treaty negotiations

     Instructional Objective(s): Students who have fully met the prescribed learning outcomes can:

    • Describe the impact of the Indian Act on Aboriginal people (e.g., marginalization and dependency)

    • Describe the impact of residential schools on Aboriginal people (e.g., destruction of lives and communities)

     • Identify various Aboriginal responses to challenges (e.g., negotiations, protests, and court cases with respect to land and resource issues; demand for self-government)

     • Formulate answers to questions such as the following:

     • What are the challenges and benefits for Aboriginal people living on and off reserves?

     • Why are Aboriginal people concerned about cultural appropriation?

    Big Idea

    Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and societies.

    The physical environment influences the nature of political, social and economic change.

    Core Competencies

  • Demonstrate awareness of the provisions of the Indian Act and its impact on the citizenship of Aboriginal Canadians.
  • Demonstrate understanding of the history and present status of Aboriginal land claims and self-government in Canada.
  • Recognize connections between events and their causes, consequences, and implications 
  •  Legacy

  • The Indian Act was imposed on aboriginal people.
  • It has been a hindrance to Native culture and economic development.Self-government would help provide stability and allow for self-reliance Students will become aware of how the Indian Act contributed to the destruction of self-determination by Native people.
  • The Indian Act did not provide equality for all people living in Canada.
  • The current fight for self-government is a just cause
  • Key words 
  • Assimilation              Colonialism               Impose                       Ward  

    Indian Act                 Indian Agent             Paternalism           Self Government






    Jaques, R. (2016). The Legacy [Video file]. Retrieved from Vimeo

    This documentary with embedded music which features a photographic history of Norway House Boarding School, Manitoba, St Michaels Residential School, BC,  Alberni Residential School, BC, Morley Residential School, Alberta, St Anne Industrial School, Ontario.   

    Wolochatiuk, T. (2012). We Were Children [Video file].  Retrieved from

    This is a documentary about the life in the eyes of two children who were placed in residential homes. The film shows you exactly some of the things that they experienced while living in the homes and what their life was like after.

    Cramner, B (2016). Our Voices Our Stories [Video file]. Retrieved from


    Imagine for a moment, your six-year-old child taken from you. Taken to a place far away from the love and security of home, family, and community.

    In 1929, St. Michael's Residential School opened its doors in Alert Bay, BC. It was the largest school by the Anglican Church. First Nationals children from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia were taken from their homes.

    In this powerful film, people share in their own voices; their stories of personal trauma as St Michael's is demolished.

    Today we continue to strive for healing and forgiveness. The resilience of our people survived a very dark and devastating period. This will never happen again in our history as a people.