Card image cap
Card image cap

Residential Schools: Intergenerational Impacts

Jacinthe Dion, Jennifer Hains, Amélie Ross, Delphine Collin-Vézina

Residential schools were institutions that operated from the late 19th century to the late 20th century that Indigenous children in Canada were forced to attend. Investigations have shown that many of the youths attending these institutions were the victims of negligence and abuse. The negative impacts of abuse during childhood have been well documented, in in particular by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Nevertheless, few quantitative studies on this topic have been conducted. The goal of this research is to document the impacts of residential school attendance – both on former attendees and on their adult children – for a population of Québec Indigenous people. In all, we met with 301 Indigenous participants. Among them, 26.9% attended a residential school, and 45.5% had a parent who frequented one. The results indicate that residential school attendance is associated with a higher likelihood of having experienced trauma (sexual abuse, physical abuse, spousal abuse, etc.), either as a child or as an adult. The results also show that residential school attendance is associated with several problems such as excessive drug or alcohol consumption, problem gambling, and psychological distress. The study highlights the importance of taking into account the consequences of historical and intergenerational trauma stemming from residential schools in our understanding the current situation of Indigenous peoples in Canada.