Indian Residential Schools: Perspectives of Blackfoot Confederacy People

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This qualitative research project explored two main themes: the Indian residential school (IRS) settlement agreement for survivors of federally funded and church-run institutions, and the participants’ perspectives (N = 16) on the apology to the survivors and subsequent generations that have been affected. I focus on the First Nation population of southern Alberta, specifically the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksikaitsitapi). I use a Siksikaitsitapi lens and methodology on their experiences at an IRS, the IRS settlement, the Canadian government’s apology to former students, and the status of reconciliation as a whole. Criteria for participant inclusion were being an IRS survivor and a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Semistructured interviews revealed that receiving the IRS compensation led to survivors reliving their trauma and that money did not buy happiness or foster healing. Themes related to the IRS apology included its lack of positive reception and lack of sincerity; some stated they did not watch it, whereas others shared it was emotional for them to view. Other common factors that affected participants while in an IRS were loneliness, pain, abuse, and being unable to speak Blackfoot or engage in Blackfoot cultural practices. Learning from our shared past, Canadians must lean towards trusting and respectful acts of reconciliation, and respectful relationships, which form strong partnerships for all. A Siksikaitsitapi framework is provided as a starting point for relearning, rebuilding, renewing, and restorying after 500 years of decolonization. Using the framework, all stakeholders can begin to understand and heal issues relating to overall health and well-being from within an Indigenous lens and methodology. This approach respectfully honours the 7 generations before us and the 7 generations that will come after us.
Apology, Blackfoot Confederacy, Healing, Indian Residential Schools, Reconciliation, Siksikaitsitapi, IRS, Survivor
Fox, T.-L. (2021). Indian Residential Schools: Perspectives of Blackfoot Confederacy People (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from