Yuma state : a philosophical study of the Indian residential school experience
Nawagesic, Leslie John
Master of Arts
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Indian residential schools in Canada span a history over one hundred years producing a storm of controversy that is ongoing. The principal parties to this controversy include a number of Christian churches in Canada, the federal government and the Native students who attended these schools. This thesis exams a segment of that issue. The current debate rages over the extent of sexual and physical abuses of children victimized while in residence at these schools. Little discussion has been targeted in the area of the impact of attempted assimilation on the lives of former students. My contention in this study is that the delicate maturational stages of Native children were tampered with arbitrarily by those in authority resulting in life-long social disorientation for many of the Native people who attended these schools. My thesis is rooted in the contention that the internalization and orientation of two disparate worldviews in repressive atmospheres undermined the natural development of the child. By way of methodology a personal narrative covering my years at a residential school is produced and examined using phenomenological description and analysis. Three factors underpinning this analysis are the roles of the residential school, the concept of the existential self, and the impact the two world views played in the intellectual formation of the residential school student. These background components are treated in some detail. The heart of the study materializes in the Autoanalysis which depicts chronologically my own deteriorating self-concept while at a residential school and my eventual emancipation of consciousness and self-identity.