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Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools

Shingwauk's Vision    
Format Softcover
Catalogue No. 978-0-8020-7858-2
Pages 582
Language English only
Price $40.95
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Written by J.R. Miller.
Published by University of Toronto Press, 1996.


With the growing strength of minority voices in recent decades has come much impassioned discussion of residential schools, the institutions where attendance by Native children was compulsory as recently as the 1960s. Former students have come forward in increasing numbers to describe the psychological and physical abuse they suffered in these schools, and many view the system as an experiment in cultural genocide. In this first comprehensive history of these institutions, J.R. Miller explores the motives of all three agents in the story. He looks at the separate experiences and agendas of the government officials who authorized the schools, the missionaries who taught in them, and the students who attended them.

Starting with the foundations of residential schooling in seventeenth-century New France, Miller traces the modern version of the institution that was created in the 1880s, and, finally, describes the phasing-out of the schools in the 1960s. He looks at instruction, work and recreation, care and abuse, and the growing resistance to the system on the part of students and their families. Based on extensive interviews as well as archival research, Miller’s history is particularly rich in Native accounts of the school system.

Shingwauks’ Vision is an absolute first in its comprehensive treatment of this subject. J.R. Miller has written a new chapter in the history of relations between indigenous and immigrant peoples in Canada.
“J.R. Miller is a highly regarded Saskatchewan historian, but he also has the makings of an outstanding coroner. In Shingwauk’s Vision, he has autopsied the barely cooled corpse of the native residential school system. With clinical precision he has examined every aspect of a wrong-headed and catastrophic experiment in social engineering that lasted for three-and-a-half centuries before the federal government finally stepped in and pulled the plug in 1969. … Miller’s work is destined to be the reference work on this subject for years to come. As a thorough, reasoned, and illuminating look at a sorry chapter of Canadian history, it is required reading and long overdue.” – Brian Maracle, Quill and Quire
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Last modified: June 25, 2008

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