Residential schooling in Canada’s North deserves its own consideration for a number of reasons.
First, its history is more recent than that of residential schooling in the rest of the country. As late as 1900 there were only two residential schools north of the sixtieth parallel. By 1950 there were only six residential schools and one hostel in the North. This slow growth reflects the fact that while the overall goals of the Canadian govern-ment’s Aboriginal policy were to assimilate, civilize, and Christianize, this policy was not applied in a uniform manner. Where there was no pressing demand for Aboriginal lands, the federal government delayed taking on the obligations that Treaties created. This was particularly true in the North. As long as there was no prospect of economic development or of the arrival of large numbers of non-Aboriginal settlers, the federal government was not prepared to negotiate with northern Aboriginal peoples. Nor was it interested in establishing reserves or residential schools—or any sort of school, for that matter. Were it not for the work of Roman Catholic and Anglican missionaries, residential schooling would have no history north of the sixtieth parallel before 1950.
A second distinct feature of the situation in the North was the fact that, in the years after 1950, the Canadian government did not simply extend the existing southern res-idential school system into northern Canada. Instead the federal government created a system of day schools and hostels under the direction of Northern Affairs rather than Indian Affairs. This system was intended from the start to be integrated into, not separate from, the public school system of the day. Unlike the southern schools, the northern schools made no attempt to restrict admission to First Nations students, so Métis and Inuit, along with a number of non-Aboriginal students, also attended them. At the end of the 1960s, these schools were transferred from the federal government to the governments of the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.