Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 47

Arctic Yearbook 2014 47 of Northerners will continue to increase participation in wage employment, be leaders of community and regional affairs, protect the environment and their cultural heritage, and participate in business (Allard & Lemay 2012). Young northerners are coming of age in an increasingly globalized and challenging environment. They require new skills to ensure that they are positioned to shape the future of the North. Understanding the lessons of difficult history in order to inform choices in the future is increasingly important for students in Northern Canada. Background: The Legacy of Residential Schools and Assimilation Policies The century long residential school system perpetuated serious harm to many Indigenous families in Canada. Informed by racist policies designed to destroy Indigenous languages and culture, the residential schools were administered by the government of Canada and run by four denominations of churches. By the time the last school had closed, over 100,000 Indigenous children had been forcibly removed from their homes. Many students suffered systemic abuse and neglect (Corntassel et al. 2009; Canada RCAP 1996). Residential School left a “record of cultural annihilation, chronic underfunding, poor management, systemic abuse, neglect and poor living conditions that had catastrophic impacts on the students who attended” (Milloy as cited in Regan 2010: 39). Tuberculosis death rates at the schools dwarfed those in the rest of Canada: by 1907, 24% of residential school students had died of TB, a mortality rate more than 100 times the national average (Sproule-Jones 1996). Until recently, Canada’s record of assimilation policies and residential schools was rarely taught in classrooms. There is a significant disconnect between what survivors, researchers and historians have documented about Canada’s dark history of residential schools,3 and what is taught in many classrooms across the country. As a result, Canadians’ knowledge on the topic is limited. A 2008 Envir ۚX