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Aboriginal Youth Identity Series: Health and WellnessSeniors Health and Wellness
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Lesson 2: A Period of Silence

Grade 11: Aboriginal Studies
Theme 3: Schooling and Cultural Change
Outcome 4: Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of residential schools on Aboriginal children


Students will demonstrate an understanding of how federal government policies affected the socialization process of traditional Aboriginal education.


One of the most influential impacts upon Aboriginal languages was that of the residential school. Traditional language was a target of government policy and many Aboriginal children who attended the schools were forbidden to speak and communicate in their own language. Students will have an opportunity to explore the impact of the residential school experience upon the transmission of traditional language and culture.

Teacher Information

Introductory Activity

Main Lesson

Students will research and identify a residential school that existed in Alberta. Some examples they may wish to choose from are:

Students will begin an in-depth research study into the history of the school. Questions that need to be answered in the final report are:

  1. Why was this particular school developed in the community? What needs was it to serve? Who needs?
  2. When was the school built? Who ran and operated the school? Where did funding come from?
  3. From which Aboriginal communities did children attend the school? What were the common Aboriginal languages that would have been spoken?
  4. What was the mandate of the school?
  5. In what language was the curriculum delivered?
  6. What reported punishments would children have received for speaking their traditional language?
  7. It can be assumed that many Aboriginal students passed through the residential school. What long term effects do you think the prohibition of speaking one’s traditional language had upon those individuals, their communities, and Aboriginal people as a whole?
  8. What short and long term effects did the residential school have upon Aboriginal culture?
  9. When did this particular school close and why?
  10. What was government policy at the time of residential schools? Do you feel that is similar or different compared to today’s educational policies?
  11. What is your overall opinion on the effects of the residential school system upon Aboriginal languages and culture?
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