Vancouver, September, 2013

In September 2013, Vancouver is the host city for Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission event. This event is a forum for survivors of the Indian Residential Schools to share their experiences – by speaking their truth, by hearing the stories of others, and by working towards healing.

Residential School History

1620 Récollets, a French order, opens the first Indian residential school in Canada.
1820 Canadian Protestants, Catholics, Anglicans, and Methodists establish Indian schools.
1847 Egerton Ryerson: “nothing can be done to improve and elevate [the Indians] character and condition without the aid of religious feeling…”
1867 With the enactment of the British North American Act, Indian Education becomes federal responsibility of Canada.
1878 Letter to President Rutherford B. Hayes from Richard Henry Pratt: “Here a Lieutenant struggles to evolve order out of the chaos of fourteen different languages! Civilization out of savagery! Industry and thrift out of laziness! Education out of ignorance! Cleanliness out of filth! And is forced to educate the courage of his own instructors to the work, and see that all the interests of his Govt. and the Indian as well are properly served.”
1884 Government of Canada makes it compulsory to attend Residential schools for those status Indians under the age of 16 until they reached 18 years of age.
1893 Under the Indian Appropriations Act, passed by the United States Congress, responsibility for Indian education on reservations is transferred to superintendents of schools.
1900 – 281 Indian schools exist in Canada.
1921 Education, medical, and social services for the People of the Sovereign Native nations and tribes becomes the responsibility of the United States Department of the Interior under the Snyder Act, which was passed by the United States Congress.
1930 Investigation reveals the practice of BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) school officials kidnap children to “educate” them.
1958 37,000 Indian children in Canada are enrolled in Indian Residential schools.
1979 More than forty-three thousand Native students across the United States are enrolled in boarding, day and dormitory schools operated by the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
1991 The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate offer an apology to the First Nations peoples of Canada.
1993 The Anglican Church of Canada offers and apology to the First Nations of Canada.
1994 The Presbyterian Church offers a confession to First Nations peoples of Canada.
1996 The last federally run residential school closes in Canada.
2000 Government of Canada apologizes for the Indian Residential Schools. “Canada apologizes to the Nuu-chah-nulth people for its role in planning, designing, building and administering the system of Indian Residential Schools and accepts that the existence of the schools was profoundly disrespectful of Aboriginal people.” Shirley Serafini, Deputy Minister IAND on behalf of the Government of Canada on December 9, 2000.

→ Click here for the CBC article – A history of residential schools in Canada.

To find out more about Canada’s National Truth and Reconciliation Commission event, visit their website at