Chapter 5: Inuit & Métis Experiences
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In the north, many of the residential schools or missions were considered "day" schools, although the majority of their students came from remote communities and were boarded at hostels next to the schools. The curriculum of Day Schools was adapted from the curriculum of southern schools in order to reflect the realities of life in the north. However, the effects of isolation, divisive religious teachings, and abuse were ever-present.
Abraham Ruban, Grolier Hall, Inuvik
"That first night at the Residential School I had nightmares. In the nightmares I saw the face of this Nun and I had nightmares all through the night. I woke up in the morning and I had wet my bed from just being disoriented, scared, and all the other elements. She came out and all the other kids had already gone out and gotten dressed. She came out and saw me still sleeping and realized I had wet my bed. She dragged me out and laid her first beating on me.
My parents had brought me up basically to not take [abuse] from anyone. I started fighting back. She first started with slapping me in the face and dragging me out of bed and calling me a "espèce de cochon" which means dirty old pig. And she had never seen such a low life. So this was my first introduction to this woman. I fought back and the harder I fought the harder she hit. Then she started using her fists on me so I just backed off and we called it even.
That was the first of many. I realized then that this would be stock and trade for the next few years. I could see well into the future what my relationship with her would be like. And it didn't stop. I would get the [living daylights] kicked out of me and I would just fight back."
Métis children, initially turned away by the Canadian government, were later encouraged to fill school spaces left by Indian children. Métis students encountered racism from all sides: they were often outsiders within the student body, and were also treated as second-class citizens when they were made to work longer and harder to "earn" their education. They were not wanted in white schools, but neither would the Department of Indian Affairs recognize them as Indians. With limited options, Métis parents often had to pay for children's education, and would place them at any school that would take them.