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May 1998

Four churches were involved in the operation of residential schools for Indian children: the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England (Anglican), the Methodist (United) Church, and the Presbyterian Church.

These organizations were funded by the federal government, the goal of which was to assimilate Indian and Inuit people into mainstream society.

The church-government partnership for Aboriginal education lasted from the 1840s to 1969, though the last residential school, Christie Roman Catholic school in Tofino, B.C. didn't close until 1983.

It's estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 Aboriginal children attended residential schools.

The first residential school for Aboriginal children was set up in the 1840s in Alderville, Ont. By 1920, it became mandatory for all Indian children to attend school. The number of schools in operation peaked at 88.

“Their education [that of Indian children] must consist not merely of the training of the mind, but of a weaning from the habits and feelings of their ancestors and the acquirement of the language, arts and customs of civilized life.” *

To accomplish this goal, discipline was the answer in many missions.

"Historians suggest that discipline was more harsh at residential schools than at other schools and would not have been accepted in Euro-Canadian institutions at the time… These methods included isolation cells, flogging and whipping, and humiliation." **

*From a federal government report published in 1847.

**From Residential School Update, AFN March 1998.

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