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Dealing with shame and unresolved trauma : residential school and its impact on the 2nd and 3rd generation adults Ing, Rosalyn N.

Abstract

'Indian' residential schools have been a part of Canada's history since the 16th Century. This qualitative study presents the education of First Nations people from a different perspective. Using two Canadian policies of assimilation as a background, the shame and unresolved trauma associated with residential school education is examined. Ten 2nd and 3rd generation successful people whose parents endured residential schools from the 1920's to their closures in the early 1970s were purposely sampled; three are 2nd generation, and seven are 3rd generation. The most significant aspect of the research is that all ten participants have graduated from university or are currently undergraduates, and their parents also earned degrees, making them excellent role models in post-secondary education. This intergenerational aspect of residential schools is rarely acknowledged. What was shared - what finding out meant, what are the intergenerational impacts, how the participants move on, and how society moves on in view of the findings - is documented. The impacts of residential school included fifteen categories: denial of First Nations (FN) identity, belief in lies/myths about FN people, shame, poor self esteem, family silent about past, communication difficulties, expectation to be judged negatively, controlling father, experience of racism, violence and physical abuse in family, sexual abuse, alcoholism, parents who value education, and university education. These impacts were carried into the 2nd and 3rd generation with added consequences to twenty more for the 2nd and nine more impacts for the 3rd generation. This study is useful for a better understanding of this form of education.

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