Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Re-Living the Residential School Experience
The residential school legacy is one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. From the mid-1850s to 1996, thousands of Aboriginal children were taken from their homelands and placed in residential schools. Taken against their will, many dreaded attending these schools. Some attended for as long as ten to fifteen years, only to be strangers in their own communities upon their return. In the past thirty years, survivors began disclosing the loneliness, confusion, fear, punishment and humiliation they suffered within these institutions, and also reported traumatic incidents of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. These childhood traumas still haunt them today. This dissertation examines the four compensation processes (Litigation, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Independent Assessment Process and the Common Experience Process) used by survivors to determine whether the compensation payments made to them assisted in reconciliation of their residential school experience. To complete an analysis of the processes, twenty-four residential school survivors from Ontario, Manitoba and British Columbia were interviewed about their experiences with one or more of the compensation processes. The study begins with a historical overview of the residential school legacy and continues with the residential school healing movement that initiated and finalized a negotiated settlement agreement for all living survivors. This dissertation provides a unique perspective to the residential school legacy by using a cultural framework, Anishinabe teachings and concepts to share the voices of residential school survivors. The pivotal Anishinabe teaching within this study comes from The Seventh Fire Prophecy. This prophecy states that: “If the New People will remain strong in their quest, the Waterdrum of the Midewiwin Lodge will again sound its voice.” In this dissertation the residential school survivors are the New People. As the dissertation unfolds the author utilizes various Anishinabe concepts to illustrate how the compensation processes failed to assist the New People to reconcile with their residential school experience. This study presents a medicine wheel understanding of reconciliation and the Residential School Legacy. It concludes with an important message to the second and third generation survivors to continue the reconciliatory efforts that the New People introduced. It is crucial that the children and grandchildren of the New People begin the reconciliation process not only for themselves but for the next seven generations. Author Keywords: Anishinabe, compensation, Indian residential schools, reconciliation, survivors

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