Canadian Residential Schools & Colonial Institutions Database
Image credit: Northern Ontario Business Staff
This database of Residential Schools, Indian Hospitals, and Indian Day Schools in Canada represents an ongoing research project. We now have over 2,000 residential schools, day schools, Indian hospitals, convents, and other colonial institutions where Indigenous children were incarcerated that we are adding to the database. An updated database, maps, and historical records information will be updated on the website in 2023. This research was supported by a Canada SHHRC CRC Tier II Indigenous History Healing and Reconciliation Grant CRC-2018-00266.
If you notice a missing school or institution, please email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add it to the database.
"The numbers of missing and deceased children who were forced to attend residential schools in Canada may never be known. We must work to find the ones we can, to locate the hundreds of unmarked burials at residential schools, Indian day schools, and Indian hospitals, and to acknowledge the children, and honour their memories"
Paulette Steeves, 2021
"Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the deep historical roots of these conflicts. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and for Canada."
TRC Final Report, 2015
What are Residential Schools
Children were forcibly removed from their families and communities and sent to residential schools, where they were often given numbers to identify them and were forbidden to speak their native languages. In 1920, amendments to the Indian Act made it mandatory for every Indian child between the ages of seven and sixteen to attend an Indian residential school. The goal of the Canadian government was to assimilate Indians into the body politic until not even one remained. As a result of the horrific abuse Indian children suffered at residential schools, many died and were buried in unmarked and unrecorded graves. The effect of the mistreatment children face in residential schools continues today as intergenerational trauma resulting from an attempted cultural genocide.
How many Residential Schools were there in Canada
There were at least 161 residential schools, 636 Indian day schools, and 31 Indian hospitals in Canada, totalling a minimum of 829 colonial institutions in the country whose communities needed to search for unmarked burials.
After visiting several residential schools in the 1920s, Dr. Bryce wrote a report on the extremely high student mortality rates, ranging from 24% to as high as 60%.
Government reports claim that at least 150,000 children were forced to attend residential schools, and while the mortality rate was not the same at each school, the number of student burials is likely still high. Even at the lowest mortality rate Dr. Bryce reported, there may be over 24,000 unknown and unmarked burials at former residential schools and colonial institution sites. Survivors of residential
schools have recorded cremations and open-water burials, so we know not all children who died at residential schools will be found, but we must work to acknowledge and honour all the children.
Shingwauk Indian Residential School operated between 1873 and 1970 in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. The
former residential school is now the site of Algoma University. Dr. Paulette Steeves and her research assistants created this database and website. Dr. Steeves is a Canada Research Chair in Healing
and Reconciliation and an associate faculty in Sociology-Anthropology at Algoma University. Her
research lab is located in Shingwauk Hall.