Work of the Mission and Power study group

Given the Canadian composition and location of the core group, it was agreed that the larger subject of 'Mission and Power' could best be served by soliciting case studies from Canadian First Nations people who had been directly affected by the residential school system. These efforts to bring indigenous peoples into the mainstream of dominant Eurocentric culture were imposed by government and run by churches. Well intended, these schools proved to be a disaster, breaking up families, wiping out cultural memories and skills, and exterminating indigenous languages. In one generation, they rendered irrelevant all that the older generations would ordinarily have transmitted to a succeeding generation, undermining the foundations requisite to any healthy society, and setting in motion a socially destructive process that continues. The following case studies informed the Theme 4 report for the Edinburgh 2010 conference.

This story, we knew, was by no means uniquely North American. Similar stories are a recurring theme across cultures on all continents. Accordingly, minority peoples with firsthand experience or knowledge of parallel stories in Latin America, Macronesia, Europe, Africa and Asia were invited to read and respond to the Canadian case studies. The following responses were received by the 'Mission and power' study group.