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Truth and Reconciliation Commission

While residential schools existed in Canada long before Confederation, the enactment of the Indian Act in 1876 established a legislative mechanism for the operation of government- and church-run residential schools.

The schools were set up to assimilate Indigenous children by eliminating parental and community relationships. Students had little intellectual, cultural, or spiritual involvement in their Indigenous communities and rarely saw their families. The conditions in the schools were poor and students often suffered from physical and sexual abuse. The legacy of these schools has contributed to the social and health problems found in Indigenous communities today.

Until the last school closed in the 1990s, more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children attended residential schools. An estimated 80,000 former students are still living today.