June 25th, 2024

Kainai’s ‘stolen children’ focus of U of L lecture


By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on October 29, 2022.

The assimilationist policies of previous federal governments towards Alberta’s Indigenous peoples were analyzed during the University of Lethbridge’s second instalment of its PUBlic Professor Series Thursday night at the Sandman Hotel.

The monthly series of thought-provoking lectures see a range of experts and researchers speak about their work with audiences.

Tiffany Prete, assistant professor in the Sociology Department at the University, held a session on her piece entitled “The Kainai Stolen Children Era”. Prete discussed the school models that tried to assimilate Indigenous children, and other methods the Canadian government used to separate Indigenous people.

“I use the terminology of ‘stolen children era’ to represent the entire era where Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend one of the school models that the Canadian government used to try and assimilate them,” said Prete. “Talking about the different school models, as well as the policies behind them.”

Prete told audiences that eight school models were in place for over a century and a half with each model falling into one of two assimilationist policies that the government used to try and assimilate Indigenous children.

“The Canadian government first tried assimilating Indigenous children by segregating them from society, trying to teach them to be like the rest of Canada,” said Prete. “The second assimilation policy is where Canadian government decided to immerse Indigenous children into Canadian society, hoping that being around non-Indigenous peoples would rub off on both the student as well as the parent.”

The talk also looked to explore the depth of assimilation regarding Indigenous people through their history.

“We have a tendency to focus on residential schools exclusively, when there is actually much more that happened,” said Prete. “It is important to be aware of those conversations that took place that made these models possible, to better understand the history of what has happened in Canada.”

With Prete’s session tackling issues that have lasting effects on Indigenous peoples, the session looked to help highlight key issues in Canadian history and expand knowledge on awareness.

“Being able to continue everyone’s education, learning, and knowledge towards what reconciliation is, and what has happened in Canada,” said Prete. “When we learn about that, hopefully in the future we will be able to continue having talks like this.”

The next session is on Nov. 24 with Saurya Das talking on Our Universe: Its Beginning, Flow and End.

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