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Lost Between Two Cultures

Lost Between Two Cultures

- Nishnawbe Aski Nation Indian Residential Schools in Ontario, 2005 -

The changes to the ways in which Cree and Ojibwe people were educated in the residential schools, created a large group of Aboriginal men and woman who had neither the education, skills and experience to survive in the bush in a traditional way, nor sufficient education to obtain a job in mainstream, non-Aboriginal society. This group of people got caught between two cultures. They often had a difficult time functioning in either culture and became marginalized in both cultures. In addition many of these people lost their pride and felt ashamed of whom they were and what they had become. They had lost their identity. In an effort to cope with this situation some individual resorted to alcohol. And when alcohol was not available, they resorted to drugs and solvents to hide their shame and pain and also to forget their experiences.

Unfortunately, the children of these men and women grew up learning exactly was their parents knew, that is, their shame about who they were. They also grew up between two cultures without an identity and some could see no usefulness to their lives. The result of the marginalization is that many Aboriginal people have become trapped in a cycle of poverty, neglect, abuse, shame, loss of pride, lack of identity and connectedness. The problems did not begin to change until individuals acknowledged that they had problems and commenced a process to correct the problems.