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Kamloops Indian Residential School


Kamloops Residential School

Residential School Photographs
Click on any small image to see the full size picture.

One of the classrooms
the chapel truck taking children to residential school
Sewing Class Kamloops Residential School Kamloops Residential School Today

Irene Billy talks about her memories of Residential School


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The Kamloops Indian Residential School was established in 1893 and operated until 1977. The school began as the Kamloops Industrial School and its purpose was to Christianize and civilizes the Secwepemc. The school worked with federal government of Canada to colonize and assimilate the Secwepemc

“We keep constantly before the mind of the pupils the object which the government has in view… which is to civilize the Indians and to make them good, useful and law-abiding members of society. A continuous supervision is exercised over them, and no infraction of the rules of morality and good manners is left without due correction”
(Cronin, 1960: 215)

Hundreds of Secwepemc children were removed from their parents and taken to the Kamloops Residential School. Attendance at the school was compulsory by law and parents were threatened with prison if they refused to allow their children to attend. At the school, the children were isolated from cultural influences and indoctrinated with the Catholic religion. The children were forbidden to speak Secwpemctsin and were severely punished when they did speak the language.

Attendance at the residential school left devastating effects on Secwepemc children. They lived at the school from September to June and were alienated from family relationships, cultural and spiritual practices and teachings. Shame of the Secwepemc culture and language was deeply instilled in the children and when they became adults, they did not pass on the language and culture to their children. Many believed their children would have a better life if they spoke English and assimilated into the Euro Canadian way of life. The effects of the residential school attendance are felt in every Secwepemc community. They include: family dysfunction; loss of culture and spirituality; near extinction of the language; loss of traditional lands and indigenous knowledge and personal and social problems.



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