Indian Residential Schools Resources – Historical Cultural Background

Indian Residential Schools – Resources

Historical and Cultural Background

Peter H. Bryce, MD, “The Story of a National Crime,” 1907 – the official report of Canada’s Chief Medical Officer; suppressed by the government; gives the statistics which show that Canada’s aboriginals were being decimated by tuberculosis and reveals that the Federal government possessed the means to stop it.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Launching of Truth and Reconciliation Commission: An Opportunity for Healing and Hope,” May 1, 2008 – a media release supporting the TRC and providing an important clarification of the relationship between the CCCB and the residential schools.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Towards a New Evangelization,” September 1992, 15 pp. – a message on the anniversary of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Americas; includes an overview of the relationship between the Americas and European culture; acknowledges the cruel and unchristian behaviour of some Europeans, as well as the criticism of some Europeans of the injustices perpetrated against the aboriginal peoples; describes the heroic pastoral concern of the missionaries as well as contemporary concerns and the challenge of the future.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops website – has many links to aboriginal issues.

Robert Carney, “Aboriginal Residential Schools Before Confederation: The Early Experience,” Canadian Catholic Historical Association, Historical Studies, 61 (1995), 13 – 40 – a refreshingly rational and unbiased treatment of the subject; focuses on the schooling activities of the Catholic Church, as well as that of the Methodists and Anglicans; shows that the negative characterizations of the schools in recent scholarly literature are not accurate in the case of pre-confederation schools, e.g., the Jesuits insisted on the superiority of day over residential schools, and vernacular over French-/English-only instruction.

[BROKEN LINK] Lori Culbert and Gordon Hoekstra, “John Furlong lawsuits highlights his past with the Frontier Apostles,” Vancouver Sun, December 2, 2012 – illuminating personal stories of the idealistic young people who taught in the Northern BC Catholic schools in the 1960’s and 70’s; very helpful in understanding the mentality of those days.

Thomas Lascelles, O.M.I., “Roman Catholic Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia”, 1990, 104 pp. – a balanced, detailed study of the BC schools written by the provincial archivist of the Oblates; contains photos, first hand testimonies of former students and teachers, interesting suggestions for further research, and notes citing an extensive list of original sources; available from Oblate House, 1311 The Crescent, Vancouver, BC, email:, tel: 604-736-9363.

[BROKEN LINK] Legacy of Hope Foundation, 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada, 2013 – educational resources for 11-18 year olds; designed to support teaching about the history and legacy of residential schools, to continue the process of reconciliation; includes lesson plans, a teacher’s guide and DVD’s which include Survivor testimonies; its major limitation is that the information is without context, e.g., comparing Native children’s TB mortality rates with non-Natives’ or IRS stats with day school stats.

[BROKEN LINK] J.R. Miller, “Residential Schools,” Canadian Encyclopedia, 2012 – gives a comprehensive cultural and historical overview as well as the usual coverage of the shortcomings of the schools.

Ian Mosby, “Canada’s Nutrition Experiments on First Nations: 1942 – 1952” – summarizes an academic study on nutrition experiments conducted without informed consent on First Nations children in the residential schools, spearheaded by the Department of Indian Affairs, and conducted by nutrition experts from the RCAF, the Hudson’s Bay Company and organizations funded by food processing manufacturers.

[BROKEN LINK] Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada – Interim Report, 2012, 40 pp. – covers the activities of the TRC since the appointment of the current three Commissioners on July 1, 2009; summarizes their activities, messages presented to the Commission at hearings and National Events, their interim findings and recommendations.

The Canadian Catholic Historical Association’s journal, Historical StudiesHistorical Studies has published invaluable peer-reviewed articles since 1933 on the history of Catholicism in Canada.

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