Experiences of seven alumni who attended Shingwauk Residential School as children 1929-1964
Wilshere, Donald John
Master of Education
SubjectNative peoples Education Ontario Sault Ste. Marie
Native peoples Ontario Sault Ste. Marie Residential schools.
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This oral history report documents the recollected experiences of seven Native"students" who attended Shingwauk Residential School between 1929 and 1964. From qualitative analyses of transcripts three general themes emerged: first, the respondents' JOURNEYS to, through, and from Shingwauk; second, the reported LOSSES incurred by the students; and, third, NEEDS. For each theme, the informants' recollections are documented compared with those found in the extant primary and secondary literature. It was observed that more traumatic memories tended to be reported by those respondents who started their Shingwauk journeys at a very early age, confirming findings reported by other researchers. Other findings include the following: the data confirm most aspects of residential school life reported in primary and secondary sources, such as the journeys to and from the school, deprivations of food and emotional support, the "vocational" training the children received, religious training delivered to the children, and the losses the children suffered. Observed differences included perceptions of learning English, available health care, and sexual abuse. Although the loss o f the informants’ mother tongues is documented by the respondents, the variety of Native languages brought to the school appear to have encouraged English to serve as the lingua franca, and the informants report learning English more for their own convenience than because o f administrative rulings enforced by staff. Also, concern for health care, although cited by other researchers as a frequent problem at other residential schools, was mentioned by few respondents in this study. No references to sexual abuse were reported. Further research is recommended to document the recollections of a broader representation of students who attended this residential school, as well as those of principals and staff members.