11 A Legacy of Failure: Canada’s Religious Education of Aboriginal Children
In the earlier publication, Religious Education and Freedom of Religion and Belief (Parker, Freathy, & Francis, 2012), the chapter entitled ‘Freedom Of Religion And Publicly-Funded Religious Schools in Canada’ examines Canada’s British North America Act of 1867 with particular reference to Section 17 and the manner that provision of publicly-funded Religious Education was historically negotiated and implemented (or not) by each of the ten provinces. Due to time and space restrictions, Canada’s three territories were not addressed; nor were the residential schools administered by various religious groups throughout the provinces and the territories. In this chapter, the implications of Subsection 91(24) of The Constitution Act, 1867 that granted ‘exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada’ over ‘Indians, and Lands reserved for Indians’ (‘The Constitution Act, 1867’, n.d.) are examined, including the manner in which the Constitution was interpreted and dealt within the provinces and territorial regions of Canada to include all Aboriginal peoples. Residential schools were established for First Nations children living on reserves as well as Inuit and Métis children living in defined communities. In an effort to assimilate the Aboriginal peoples, the federal government involved many Christian religious groups in their missionary endeavours by means of the education of indigenous children. Such schools were generally located at great geographical distance from the children’s homes. The effect of these religious groups on the Aboriginal children in the name of religion is examined. Specific reference is made to the Royal Proclamation of...