For over a century, beginning in the mid-1800s and continuing into the mid-1990s, Aboriginal children in Canada were taken from their homes and communities and placed in institutions called residential schools. These schools were run by religious orders in collaboration with the federal government and were attended by children as young as four or five years of age. Separated from their families and prohibited from speaking their native languages and practicing their culture, the vast majority of the over 150,000 children that attended these schools experienced neglect and suffering. The impacts of sexual, mental, and physical abuse, shame, and deprivation endured at Indian Residential Schools continue to affect generations of Survivors, their families, and communities today. Remarkably, in the face of this tremendous adversity, many Survivors and their descendants have retained their language and their culture and continue to work toward healing and reconciliation.
100 Years of Loss is one of three exhibitions developed by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, a national, charitable Aboriginal organization whose purpose is to educate and create awareness and understanding about the legacy of residential schools, including the intergenerational impacts on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, and continue to support the ongoing healing process of Residential School Survivors. The exhibition serves an important role in educating about the complex histories and creating a space for people to share and heal.