Cutting rations to residential school parents

Many people just beginning to understand the episode in Canadian History known as the residential schools era may wonder, how did parents react when their son or daughter begged them not to send them back into the abuse that institution promised them.

The first thing to know is that Indian children were gathered up like orphans from the streets of their home reserves sometimes without their parents even knowing what happened to them for days, weeks, or in certain cases, never knowing.

Others were sold the bill of goods that the residential schools Ould make their children’s lives much better than they would be without this “education.” As the people Canada are now aware, sending these children into these institutions had only one goal — complete assimilation and total cultural genocide.

A copy of a letter dated July 24th, 1935, addressed to J.H. MacIntosh, Calling Lake Alberta, sent on Indian Affairs letterhead by Indian Agent, N.P. L’Heureau offers a glance into how the residential schools dealt with concerned parents.


Dear Sir:

Last winter J.B Gambler, an Indian of Calling Lake has taken his children away from the Wabasca R.C. School without the assent of the Principal and when the Magistrate acting as Truant Officer, went to him to regain possession of the children he used abusive language, and threatened to shoot him.

As the above mentioned J.B. Gambler is in receipt of a monthly ration, I have to order that same to be cut off entirely until such a time as I am able to reverse my decision. Thus cannot be expected until the children are back in school at Wabasca and Gambler’s amends resented to pRincipal and Magistrate there.

Your account dated 7th of July is being passed as published.


Yours faithfully

N.P. L’Heureux

Indian Agent


It is not known if the children were ever returned to the school and what happened to them.

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