Date of Award

Winter 3-2023

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Sundermann


In this paper I discover the intentions of the Canadian federal government behind the creations of residential schools, educational institutions that were erected to control and alter the identity of Indigenous children and assimilate them into Canadian society. While assimilation was the promoted product of the federal government’s actions, there has remained an inconsistency with the belief that assimilation would occur as intended. In truth, there would always remain a divide between the Indigenous people and the forming Canadian nation whether this be racially, spiritually, or culturally. These elements would weigh upon the formation of a cohesive nationalistic identity, something that the Canadian government wanted desperately as they tried to form their own nation separate from the French and British. Through the exploration of federal government legislation, government department reports, survivor testimony, photographs from within the schools, and statements from federal leadership, it is clear that the government's intentions were never to make Canada a cohesive entity with shared principles and an equality for all. Rather, the Canadian federal government sought to exert control over the Indigenous people in a desire to alter and mold who they were, with the aims of making them into subservient beings that would not cause dissidence but ones that would instead provide Canada with compliant members of the unified nation.