from their cultures and from their communities, in order that they could be trained in and made knowledgeable of the teachings of white society, virtually displaced
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for their purposes, must form the foundation for the system’s existence. Culture is more than the values, traditions or customary practices of Aboriginal people. Culture is also the laws, customary or contemporary, of the people who belong to a distinct society. Culture is the social and political organization of the people who constitute a distinct society. Culture also includes the administration of justice as a fundamental component of every organized society. Aboriginal people have a right to their own cultures. They are entitled to apply traditional approaches to meeting the needs of Aboriginal children who, for whatever reason, are in need of help or protection. It was to put into the minds of Indian children new notions that called into question the validity and authority of traditional Aboriginal institutions.
It resulted in many Aboriginal children believing, for example, that the authority to teach or the authority to control the lives of Aboriginal people was the prerogative of non-Aboriginal people who did not live in the community. In the Cree and Ojibway languages, for example, the word used most commonly for “government,” when translated, meant the “white man’s government.” The new educational methods had the same effect whether education took place in a residential school or in a school situated within the Indian community. The effect was quite simply to question the culture of Aboriginal people and its continuing validity for Aboriginal youth. It was to teach Indian children to scorn their particular culture as being outdated, primitive, backwards and of no significance in the modern context. Traditional methods of social control in the communities were redefined. The massive removal of Aboriginal children from parents,