Beginning in the 1870s, over 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in federal government sponsored residential schools to “get the Indian out of the child”. Children as young as four were taken from their families and cultures to become “civilized” while under religious school care. During this time, many children suffered physical and sexual abuse. It is estimated that over 6,000 children died while in the residential school system. 

The legacy continues to cause much emotional and physical pain to families of residential school survivors and victims throughout the country. The last residential school closed in 1996. 

The release of the Truth and Reconciliation report in 2015 to address the issues of the residential school legacy pointed to the need to ensure there are actions initiated to assist residential school survivors and families with healing. The National Healing Forest initiative is just one call to action – an effort to assist healing across Canada. Any Canadian individual or group, Indigenous, or non-Indigenous, is welcome to participate. Below is a selection of archival images of residential schools from across Canada. Click to view enlarged versions. All photos are public domain.