About The Project

Welcome to our website on the history of the United Church’s Indian Residential Schools. This project was initiated by the United Church’s Steering Committee on Residential Schools, comprised of Survivors from different residential schools across Canada and of United Church leaders and staff. Here you will find photographs from the collections in our national archives in Toronto, as well as photos from the Pacific Mountain Regional Council Archives in British Columbia. By digitizing the photographs, we hope to make them more accessible to Survivors, First Nations communities, and other interested people.

We consider this project a form of repatriation to First Nations communities and recognize that we have a responsibility to engage in truth-telling about the Church’s role in the residential school system and in colonialism in general.

If viewing this site or the photographs causes you or someone you know distress, please call the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419.The crisis line will help Survivors get emotional support and crisis services. Please see further details and contact information under Health Support in the footer section of this site.

The Residential Schools of The United Church of Canada

Since Canadian Confederation, it was the policy of the government of Canada to provide education to Indigenous peoples through a system of church-run residential schools. The schools were part of the federal government’s goal to assimilate Indigenous people into Canadian society. The Methodist and Presbyterian churches and, by 1925, the United Church of Canada explicitly supported the goals of assimilation and Christianization.

The United Church and its predecessors managed schools in Ontario and Western Canada – the number ranging from thirteen in 1927 to four in 1966. The United Church also ran a number of day schools in First Nations communities. By 1969, the federal government took over the management or closed all of the United Church residential schools. The residential school system brought harm and cultural dislocation to children by removing them from their families and communities.

Survivors began to recount their experiences of cultural, physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in United Church residential schools and brought legal action against the different bodies responsible for the schools. In response, the General Council of the United Church delivered an apology to the Native Congregations in 1986 and the Moderator of the United Church offered an apology in 1998. Since 2003, the United Church has worked with other denominations and Survivor groups to promote a national truth-telling and healing process. On June 2008, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established in Canada.