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In the late 1800s, more than 100,000 first nations children in Canada were taken away from their families and communities and forced in attending residential schools far away from home. These children suffered from emotional, physical, sexual and spiritual abuse but got worst punishment for speaking their indigenous languages. The forcing of residential schools on First Nation children has lead to significant loss of indigenous languages. This also affects family relationships and also distanced many First Nations people from their traditional belief systems which transformed them into a totally different person.
The forcing of residential schools on First Nation children has lead to significant loss of indigenous languages. Having been removed from their family at a young age, children haven’t had the chance to become familiar with their original languages. At the residential schools, only English and French languages could be spoken there. Children were abused and punished for speaking their languages. A survivor of residential schools have reported priests and nuns punching, slapping, verbally abusing (Knockwood, 1992, p.99), and also students were beaten or even had needles stuck through their tongues if they were caught speaking to each other in their own languages. In the face of this abuse, many children quickly lost the ability to speak their indigenous languages.
The loss of indigenous languages affected family relationships.” Older brothers were seperated from younger brothers, older sisters were seperated from younger sisters, and brothers and sisters were separated from each other”(Truth and Reconciliation Commision ofCanada,2016,p.41) and were not allowed to see or speak to each other.Parents also had to go through the stress and guilt of giving their children away. Some of them believed that it was for the betterment of their lives but others knew that this was not the case which had caused them to turn to alcohol for support. When and if the children gets a chance to reunite with family, it is hard for them to communicate because of the difference in each other’s languages which causes communication to be very difficult within the families.
With the lost ability to speak their indigenous languages affected their relationship negatively with their families. Besides damaging family and community relationships, the loss of indigenous languages also distanced many First Nations people from their traditional belief systems. First nations people are very spiritual and sacred. They believe that all of life’s spiritual and they love to connect with nature. Without knowledge of their traditional languages young people could not learn about the physical beliefs of their people that is being passed on orally by elders through myths and rituals.without access to the elders knowledge of nature, young people lost access to the beliefs and practices their people had developed over thousands of years Therefore, the loss of language led to the loss of traditional spiritual beliefs and connection to nature.
The forcing of residential schools on First Nation children has lead to significant loss of indigenous languages. This also affects family relationships and also distanced many First Nations people from their traditional belief systems which totally transformed them into a totally different person. The impact of the issue on these children was very crucial and caused a lot of problems such mental,physical,emotional or even death to many people.The effects of the residential schools on First Nations’ language and culture will never be undone; all Canadians can do now is support efforts by aboriginal people to preserve and revitalize those linguistic and cultural traditions that have been lost.
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