June 9th, 2012

Abandoned Residential School

I live near Manitoulin Island, which is the largest freshwater island in the world and located in the northern part of Lake Huron, in Ontario. I briefly lived on the island, and I travel out there to hike or visit friends occasionally. I took the following pictures when I was visiting a buddy in Wikwemikong, one of the several First Nations reservations located on Manitoulin. The following pictures depict an abandoned residential school on the reserve.

For over a century, the Canadian government, in conjunction with the Jesuits and several other religious organizations, ran residential schools for First Nations children. Children were taken from their homes and their parents, often forcefully, and put in these boarding schools. They would not be allowed to see their parents again for a long time, sometimes years. The purpose of the schools was to strip First Nations children of their cultural identities; they were beaten for speaking their native languages and forced to learn a very strict curriculum that would help them 'assimilate'. They were often forced to do hard labour and many children were physically and sexually abused. First Nations people in Canada today continue to deal with the legacy of residential schools, and the terrible impact they have had on their communities.

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