Friday, 15 November 2013

Canadian Indian Residential Schools as “Cultural Genocide” (Radio Documentary)

This is a 30 minute independent radio documentary Canadian Indian Residential Schools as “Cultural Genocide.” We will look at how cultural genocide is defined and how various experts in the field would justify using the term genocide to describe the terrible tragedy that is a part of Canadian history. 

Article 2 of the Genocide Convention states that "genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

From these criteria, we see that the Indian Residential School system could easily be classified as a type of cultural genocide. We also explore the intergenerational effects of the Canadian Residential Schools. It is clear that being removed from your family and placed in these institutions could have a negative impact on your life and on the lives of your children. In addition, we provide the views of some everyday people on the issues surrounding Canadian Indian Residential Schools.  Finally, we offer some suggestions for moving forward from here, such as the promotion of aboriginal culture and awareness of past events.


Red Revolution by Robert Ouellete as sung by Ila Barker
The Road Before Us by Peter Kater
Inuit Stand Up by Susan Aglukark
Voices of the Wind by Alice Gomez
Pocahontas - World Championship Song 96 by Clayton Chief as performed by Melsin Stone

Produced by: Nicole Buhler, Keirston Smith, Cara Fehr, Sara Pirch

To Learn More (Radio Documentary)


  1. The systematic removal of young Aboriginal children from their family in order to change their culture and assimilate them is certainly nothing less than cultural genocide. I see no other way to define the Indian Residential school project than to call it a genocide. There is no way to work towards healing individuals, communities and cross cultural relations than to admit fully and honestly the wrongs done by the Canadian Government and many Christian organizations towards the Aboriginal communities. If we are unable to agree upon what actually occurred during the awful time in our nation’s history than we will never be able to agree on what we can do moving forward.
    This radio documentary did an excellent job of identifying the reasonable and necessary consideration of Indian Residential schools as a genocidal project. Specifically pointing out that the categories which describe genocide by multinational institutions fits with the description of Aboriginal treatment in Canada including, but not limited to, Indian Residential School policy. The idea that the first step in healing is a full admittance of what occurred in order to allow open conversation going forward is exactly right.
    One specifically important idea they put forward was that the treatment of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history must certainly be highlighted and examined in the new Museum of Human rights in Winnipeg. They rightly point out to omit the story of Canadian Aboriginal-European conflict in Canada from the museum would be a major and condemning oversight to the spirit and message of the museum entirely.
    There is nothing that can be done in order to change the past, however the only way to move forward is to agree upon the severity of the treatment of Aboriginals in Canada. If we as Canadians cannot agree that what was done to the culture, communities, and individuals is affecting many social issues facing the Aboriginal communities in Canada today, than we have little to know hope in working towards open communication and most importantly healing. To fully understand the issue is to begin to realize the solution. Canada is not ready for forgiveness because it has not yet confessed.