150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were removed from their communities and placed into residential schools. Residential schools were created because it was said that the Aboriginal culture could not keep up to the rapidly modernizing Canadian society. As a result, Aboriginal children who attended residential schools faced assimilation into the white culture. Students were punished if they were heard speaking their own language, or if they were practicing their own culture. As a result, at the end of the school year when the students were to head back to the reserve they felt as they did not belong, and lacked the skills to help out their families. (CBC: A history of residential schools in Canada)
Teaching about residential schools is important to understand because of the many of the current issues and suffering many of the First Nations, Metis and Inuit people still face today. It is important to look at the colonization of First Nations people. How did colonization of First Nations people affect the loss of language and culture? Students can look at how First Nations people experienced residential school compared to students learning in their own schools. Students need to understand how First Nations people were treated in residential schools from a First Nations perspective. I believe that to effectively teach about residential schools it is important to teach about empathy. Students need to have empathy for the First Nations people that experienced the hardships and atrocities in residential schools. Educating others on the impact of residential schools is the first step to helping create an anti-oppresive society.