WSTA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 22: Civilizing Mission, Clean House

Women's and Gender Studies
Course Code
Anissa Talahite- Moodley

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Chapter 22: Intimate Colonalisms: The Material and Experienced Places of British Columbia’s Residential Schools
Intimate Places of Colonialism: Residential Schools in British Columbia
- British Columbia’s residential schools operated between 1861 and 1984
- the majority of the schools were (and remain) clustered in the southwest region of the province
- most BC residential schools, operated within a clear assimilativist policy framework: residential education was a means both to break Aboriginal children’s links
with their communities and cultures and a means to absorb them into a dominant society
- the built and material structures of the province’s residential schools, in addition to the curricular and ideological content delivered within the schools, might thus be
theorized as physical and non-material ‘placial’ realizations of larger colonial endeavours toward Aboriginal peoples
- architecturally and materially, BC’s residential schools transmitted a colonial narrative of non-Aboriginal domination and superiority over First Nations peoples
- aboriginal girls and young women were particularly susceptible to the bodily implantation of colonialism
- this was consciously articulated policy amongst colonial administrators and was expressed in sentiments such as the ‘great forces of intermarriage and education
will finally overcome the lingering traces of native custom and tradition’
place, particularly place as gendered and segregated, functioned within residential school to separate families and erode familial ties, furthering the colonial goals
of assimilating and transforming Aboriginal peoples
the materiality of residential schools was also inherent to the propagation of Euro-colonial ideals about Victorian domestic ideals, which were enacted and became
entrenched through the curriculum and structuring of place
teaching and enforcing Euro-appropriate domestic skills, including keeping a clean house, cooking scheduled meals and performing as a dedicated wife and
mother, were all part of a civilizing mission enforced on colonized subjects
the Euro-colonial project in Canada had a specific vision of civilizing Aboriginal women
this vision included imaging Aboriginal women as embodiments of colonial femininity, inclusive of traits popularized through the cult of the domestic, arguably with
an anticipated outcome of disrupting the cycle of Aboriginal culture (i.e., disrupting Aboriginal motherhood and mothering) and ultimately eliminating indigeneity
from a settler landscape
the colonially envisioned future home of First Nations girls was a home consistent with Euro-colonial concepts of domestic space
the curricular ideology concerning home consequently focused on kitchens, dining rooms and sewing rooms, all of which were reflected in the teaching
environment of residential schools
kitchens and dining halls, as well as sewing, washing and ironing rooms became places where Euro-colonial ideals of femininity were constructed, enforced and
rewarded within Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia
while Euro-colonial visions of domesticity and femininity were conceived and enforced within Indian residential school rooms, the visions were also inscribed upon
the bodies of Aboriginal girls, notably through curriculum concerned with hygiene and health, fashion and behaviour
as a means of ensuring Aboriginal girls' bodies conformed to idealized concepts of femininity, girls were taught to properly wear hats and gloves, how to style their
hair and how to appear appropriately modest and humble
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