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Manitoba History No. 89
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No. 89

War Memorials in Manitoba
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Manitoba History: Review: Jean Barman, Yvonne Herbert and Don McCaskill (editors), Indian Education in Canada, Volume 1: The Legacy

by Katherine Pettipas
Curator of Native Ethnology, Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature

Manitoba History, Number 13, Spring 1987

This article was published originally in Manitoba History by the Manitoba Historical Society on the above date. We make it available here as a free, public service.

Please direct all inquiries to webmaster@mhs.mb.ca.

Indian Education in Canada, Volume 1: The Legacy. Nakoda Institute Occasional Paper No. 2. Jean Barman, Yvonne He9bert, Don McCaskill, eds. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1986. viii, 172 pp. ISBN 0-7748-0243-x (v.1).

For readers who are interested in pursuing the topic of colonial assimilative policies and programs in Canada, a historical overview of the Indian education system is available in Indian Education in Canada, Volume I: The Legacy. Published in the Nakoda Institute Occasional Paper Series under the editorship of Jean Barman, Yvonne Hebert and Don McCaskill, this volume was intended to attract a wide readership including education planners, teachers, students, and the general public. Following a general critical review of the Indian education experience and an evaluation of Indian response, seven specific case studies are presented which range in topic, group reference, and chronology.

Early colonial attempts to undermine indigenous identity, political integrity and value systems are discussed in Marie Battiste’s essay on “Micmac Literacy and Cognitive Assimilation,” and in Cornelius Jaenen’s critique of the Franco-Indian program of assimilation in “Education for Francization: The Case of New France in the Seventeenth Century.” With the exception of an examination of the day school system in the Yukon by Ken Coates, the remaining case studies deal with the programs of a number of boarding schools. The Shingwauk Industrial School for Boys and the Wawanosh Home for Girls in the Lake Superior region of Ontario (J. Donald Wilson); the comparative Catholic experience at Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan and St. Mary’s, British Columbia (Jacqueline Gresko); the interracial Anglican-operated All Hallows School, British Columbia (Jean Barman); and the Blue Quills Residential School, Alberta (Diane Persson) are the subjects of subsequent chapters.

The Canadian legacy of Indian education is one of tragic failure. A colonial wardship system which pre-empted due consultation with Indian communities regarding the education of their children, federal parsimony, and the existence of racial discrimination in a dominant society which refused to accommodate Indian graduates were factors contributing to this failure. The political struggle to reverse this process is reflected in efforts on the part of Indian communities to regain control over the education of their children. As the editors point out, this control” ... remains at the heart of self-determination”:

The key to the future of any society lies in the transmission of its culture and worldview to succeeding generations. The socialization of children, through education, shapes all aspects of identity, instilling knowledge of the group’s language, history, traditions, behaviour, and spiritual beliefs. It is for this reason that aboriginal peoples have placed such a high priority on regaining control over the education of their children. (p. 1).

The nature of this control and contemporary approaches to counteracting the legacy will be dealt with in a subsequent volume subtitled The Challenge.

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