- Canadian Residential School System
Note: There is no any specific way to describe the Art of Norval Morrisseau. The description included herein is just one way of experiencing his art. His art can be experienced in so many different ways depending of the subject matter and the knowledge and spiritual inspiration of the viewer.
"The Canadian residential school system consisted of a number of schools for Aboriginal children, operated during the 19th and 20th century by churches of various denominations (about sixty per cent by Roman Catholics, and thirty per cent by the United Church of Canada (and its pre-1925 predecessors, Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Methodist churches) and the Anglican Church of Canada) and funded under the Indian Act by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, a branch of the federal government. The foundations of the system were the pre-confederation Gradual Civilization Act (1857) and the Gradual Enfranchisement Act (1869). These acts assumed the inherent superiority of British ways, and the need for Indians to become English-speakers, Christians and farmers. At the time, aboriginal leaders wanted these acts to be over-turned.
Details of mistreatment of students had been published numerous times through the century, but following the closure of the schools in the 1990s, the work of indigenous activists and historians led to the change in the public perception of the residential school system, official government apologies and a (controversial) legal settlement.
Two major types of problems have been associated with the residential school system. First, there was a clear intent to assimilate Indian people (First Nations) into the non-native culture. Second, there was widespread physical and sexual abuse, and, owing to overcrowding, poor sanitation and a lack of medical care and the resulting high rates of tuberculosis, death rates up to 69 percent." 2)
* The painting in this posting: "Generations of Pain from Residential Schools", 48"x96", © 1974 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/