Hi! I’m Nathan Kiezie from Buffalo Narrows, and I chose to do this topic, because I know a little bit about it from other classes and from presentations that were done at our school. Also, my grandma tells stories about when she went to school. I also thought it would be interesting if I got to learn more about aboriginal education that happened when I was not around to see it for myself. I heard a lot of different stories over the years about education and how difficult it was back then, and how it has evolved from the past to the present day.
Aboriginal education in the past was only done orally through oral teachings. Oral Teachings were a combination of stories, ceremonies, traditions, medicine wheel, medicines, dances, and arts & crafts. One major form of oral teaching was storytelling. They were not only for entertainment, but to educate and inform the youth about their history, culture, and their identities. Elders and Healers, were the ones that usually shared this knowledge with the younger generation, and it would get passed down from generation to generation for a long time to come. The stories taught lessons, morals, history, and practical knowledge.
In 1910 , churches and the government assimilated Native peoples. Residential schools were the main method of assimilation. Children were taken from families by priests and police officers. Schools were ruled by Catholic, United and Anglican churches. Between 1820 to 19 69, 26 residential schools were administered by Anglican churches. The government was involved in 130 schools across Canada. Children were not allowed to speak their language or they were punished. Children between the ages of 7 to 15 had to attend residential school. The children were not allowed to talk to or play with opposite sex, even if they were family members. They were only allowed to talk for a few minutes on Christmas holidays.
Until up to the 1950’s children were to attend classes for half a day, and work on a farm or do laundry or other chores for the other half. Some of the schools failed to provide education and were using the children as unpaid labourers. Eventually the schools were expected to pay the students for labour. Residential schools to children was like a nightmare. In some cases they were exposed to physical, mental and sexual abuse. Malnutrition, illness, and ill treatment lead to a lot of deaths of residential school children. In 1969 churches stopped running schools and the Indian bands took over, and the last residential school closed permanently in 1996, in Canada.
The National Indian Brotherhood (NIB) wanted to only focus on First Nations education. The NIB was later changed to Assembly of First Nations (AFN). In 1972 the NIB stated they wanted “Indian Control Of Indian Education”. They wanted to control their own education, and to educate young First Nations of their culture and way of life. One goal from AFN was the reinforcement of identity. They wanted to be consulted with over education. They wanted aboriginal student to learn their own language, and culture. Now this is policy of AFN and Canadian government.
Today we learn about the history of First Nations and Métis peoples. We also learn about when European settlers came into Canada. In school we have cultural camps where we learn about the traditional way of life like fishing, hunting and trapping. We also have traditional meals in school, and we have cultural days/games. We have knowledge of our ancestors and our history. Our present day education system with learning about the past, the present along with all the technology offers us more opportunities and prepares us for life.
I interviewed my grandma about her education when she was young. Her name Is Bernice Marguerite Seright, maiden name Durocher.’ She was born on July 21st, 1945 and is now 66 years old.
Calliou, Shrilyn. ""Indian Control of Indian Education". Native Rights News." 30 January 2009. Alliancefor Indigenous Rights. Web Blogspot. 22 April 2012. Hanson, Erin. "Oral Traditions" First Nations Studies Program. The University of British Columbia. 2009. Web. 2012 April 21. "Indian Residential Schools in Canada." Uploaded by Mudhooks, 17 February 2008. Web. Paul, Daniel N. Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. Picture. Residential School. First Nation Homelessness. n.d. Photo. Seright, Bernice. Personal Interview Nathan Kiezie. 20 April 2012. The Winnepeg Art Gallery. "Storytelling: Oral Tradition". . 2002. Web. 21 April 2012. Thomas Moore before and after his entrance into the Regina Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan in 1874. Library Archives Canada. Photo.