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The Church View

The Church View

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

The churches, however, had a humanitarian purpose to establishing schools for the Indian people. For example, in 1873 Rev. E.F. Wilson of the Anglican Church at Sault Ste. Marie thought:

We think our friends will allow that out undertaking [building an Industrial Home] is one not altogether unworthy of their consideration and support. This district of Algoma is opening up rapidly to the white settler and the poor Indian, if left unprotected and unprovided for, will be driven back before the tide of emigration or else trampled underfoot. We wish to put him in such a position that he may be able to compete with his white neighbours and unite with them in reaping benefit from the soil which God had bestowed upon us all[11]

This view was prevalent in the schools for over half a century as is demonstrated in the following excerpt from a letter written in 1940 to the Superintendent of Welfare and Training of the Department of the Secretary of the Indian and Eskimo Residential School Commission, who reported on a visit he had made to the Pelican Lake Indian Residential School. In his concluding comments he said:

I greatly appreciate the opportunity afforded me during my recent visit to Ottawa of discussing together some of the problems of the Indian educational work, and I am more convinced than ever that this work, with all its difficulties, is well worthwhile. The development and strengthening of the physical, intellectual and moral fiber of the Indian segment of our country’s population, must surely help to strengthen the position of our country as a whole[12].

[11] RG 10, Vol. 6211, File 469-1, part 1. Newspaper article, " Lake Superior Mission, Proposed Industrial Home for Indian Children at Garden River". March 11, 1873.

[12] RG 10, Vol. 6215, File 470-5, part 4. Letter from Rev. T.B.R. Westgate, Secretary, the Indian and Eskimo Residential School Commission of the Missionary Society of the Church of England in Canada, to R.A. Hoey, Superintendent, Welfare and Training, Indian Affairs Branch, Department of Mines and Resources, September 24, 1940.