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Assimilation is a Good Thing?
Throughout history, during meetings between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people, some Aboriginal leaders requested education for their communities. They wanted to understand and integrate the aspects of western culture they felt were important. Regrettably, they could not have foreseen the eventual outcome.
Beginning in the mid-19th century, the government and religious orders reasoned that Aboriginal adults would not willingly give up their so-called "heathen" ceremonies, way of life, and languages. Consequently, assimilation would have to take place through the indoctrination of Aboriginal children. To accomplish this, children were often transferred from their homes and communities to residential schools on reserves and off reserves. Photographs were used to portray the schools as positive vehicles for converting a tribal people from "savages" to "civilized members" of Canadian society.
Sessional Papers, Report by Hayter Reed, Deputy Superintendent General of Indian Affairs, vol. XXXI, no. 1, 1897, Emancipation from Superstitions, p. xxxii: "The year just passed has shown the department that the sun dance has become an Indian ceremony almost, if not quite, of the past. For a long time the department's policy has been in the direction of suppressing it by moral suasion, and step by step, it has been robbed of its most revolting ceremonies, so that in the end it has afforded little attraction to a great proportion of the Indian population. So long as it remained a prominent performance, so long did it keep burning those superstitions which it was sought to eradicate".