British Journal of Canadian Studies

Redress for linguicide: residential schools and assimilation in Canada

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2017), 30, (2), 183–204.

Abstract

Since the late 1800s, Canada’s educational system has played a significant role in the destruction of Indigenous languages. The most notable examples are found in residential school policy. The erosion of Indigenous languages continues to occur in the provincial school system today. In spite of the detrimental role educational policy and institutions have had on Indigenous cultures, they now have a critical role to play in the revitalization of Indigenous languages since few Indigenous children are able to learn their languages at home. This article examines key areas that require consideration for language revitalization efforts. The article is based partly on personal reflection to reveal the intergenerational legacy of cultural and language harms. Statements regarding the abuses survivors experienced for speaking their languages will emphasise a number of issues that go beyond language loss from the residential school era.

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Fontaine, Lorena Sekwan