The Indian Residential School System in Canada lasted almost 150 years. It was funded and operated by the Federal Government and the prominent Christian denominations, the Catholic Church being the most involved. At the time, in European countries including the Colonies of the British Empire and America, it was universally accepted by respected elected government officials, high ranking clergy and in deed, the public at large, that aboriginal societies were to be treated as “simple children” who needed to be aggressively taught the superiority of European ways, not only for their own salvation, but also so that they would assimilate and become productive members of Canadian society. How wrong that philosophy is judged to be today.

How was it that the brightest minds in society deemed what they were doing to be the “righteous and charitable thing to do”, when in retrospect it was a concerted, ill-conceived program of cultural genocide. It is only now that we are beginning to realize the damage that was done over the lifespan of this inherently dysfunctional system which not only tore a generational wound into the culture of aboriginal peoples, but also dehumanized and desensitized so many other victims, the dedicated non-aboriginal priests, nuns and brothers who were drafted to serve on the front lines, and who ultimately became overwhelmed by the burden of psychopathologic stress which led to destructive behaviors like alcoholism, sexual abuse and suicide.