National Aboriginal Day
It’s National Aboriginal Day in Canada and when I read the following American article, I couldn’t help but think about the history of residential schools. The purpose of residential schools in Canada was to “educate” and “civilize” the First Nation peoples in order that they adopt a more western lifestyle and customs - children were separated from their families, forbidden to speak their heritage language and aggressively assimilated into mainstream Christian society.
Here’s a modern take on that from a school in the U.S. Midwest. While I understand it is but a summer immersion program, I sense that speaking a heritage language at home is still discouraged.
Giri learned English several years ago in Nepal, but her parents primarily speak Nepali in the home. Most of the other 65 students speak their native language at home, too, which puts them at a disadvantage when they spend so much time at home over the summer.
Eventually, English will become the great divide that separates the students from their parents and elders, meanwhile a language that is common to the whole family is taken away.