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Racism, Sexism and how they affect Aboriginal women’s health

Residentials Schools

Second, residential schools were government-funded schools that were created to help in “the education of Aboriginal people”, that was the government’s justification, additionally, it made it illegal for children to stay at home instead of going to these residential schools. However, the reason was a much more sinister one; to eliminate Indian culture by removing the child from exposure to the Aboriginal culture, forbidding it and forcing them instead to learn the Canadian culture. In addition to the compulsory attendance to these schools, they were plagued with sexual, psychological and physical abuse. Residential schools had a very negative consequence; it led to violence against women becoming normal among Aboriginal communities. This was the result of years of abuse in residential schools, without learning how to form intimate or meaningful relationships as well as learning parenting skills. Upon their return home, children would engage in self-destructive behaviour such as substance abuse and violence, modeling their parents and thus spawning an unending cycle of negative behaviour.(Kubik, Bourassa & Hampton, 2009, p. 23)
Equally important was the ‘Sixties scoop’, a program that started in the 1960s’, when the government would take children away from Aboriginal households deemed unfit to raise a child and put them in non-Aboriginal households, therefore dissociating them from their culture. Often, the new households that Aboriginal children were put in did not teach them about Aboriginal identity and in some cases, these children were abused, such was the case of Cameron Kerley who committed suicide in 1983. Since the consequences of the ‘Sixties Scoop’ were similar to those of the residential schools, they only perpetuated each other. The combined negative effects left generations of Aboriginal women traumatized, psychologists termed this as intergenerational trauma. This term refers to the transmission of mass trauma and unresolved grief, leaving them at-risk to a spectrum of mental health issues such as depression (Roy, 2014, p. 8). These consequences still affect Aboriginal women today.