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Thoughts on Canada’s Residential School System November 13th, 2015

This morning I put the finishing touches on an article entitled “Cultural Genocide and the First Nations of Upper Canada: Some Romantic-era Roots of Canada’s Residential School System,” which I was invited to contribute to a special issue of the European Romantic Review devoted to the theme “Romanticism and Rights.” Having evolved from my presentation on the Aboriginal Rights plenary panel at last summer’s NASSR conference in Winnipeg, the article examines a poem by the Irish-Ojibwe writer Bemwewegiizhigokwe (also known as Jane Johnston Schoolcraft), who lamented her children’s enrollment in American boarding schools in 1839. It then goes on to examine the policy proposals of the influential educator John Strachan, Toronto’s first Anglican bishop, who in the 1820s and 1840s recommended that Aboriginal children should be removed from their homes to be raised and educated among pious whites. Although the residential school system was not formally established until 1879, my article investigates the imperial policy heritage that led to its establishment.

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