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Publish at October 18 2021 Updated October 21 2021

Residential Schools in Canada: Survivors' testimonies

A Century of Cultural Genocide Against First Nations

The summer of 2021 was a very difficult one in Canada. Indeed, a heavy secret came to light that people were trying to forget. Geo-radar excavations near former residential schools showed the bodies of hundreds of children. This has shed light on the cultural genocide experienced by Canada's First Nations.

From 1890 to 1996, 150,000 Aboriginal children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools usually run by the church but also by secular officials. The stated goal? "To "kill the Indian in the child." Thus, generations lost their language, their traditions and became estranged from their families in part.

In addition to this attempt to eliminate their ancestral culture, children were beaten, sexually assaulted and some died from the abuse in these institutions. In 2008, the Canadian government officially apologized. However, as this France Culture vignette featuring testimonies from adults who attended these residential schools reminds us, the wounds remain raw.

Length: 4min48

Illustration : Melissa Griffin on Usplash

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