Arriving at residential school, children had their hair chopped off and their clothing removed — one survivor recalled having her beaded moccasins, made by her grandmother for her to wear to school, taken from her and thrown in the garbage.
They were separated from their siblings and survivors spoke of being ignored, or even punished, for crying.
“It was, at best, institutionalized child neglect,” says the report.
The quality of the education was often poor: the lessons were heavy on rote memorization, the teachers were often unqualified the classrooms were overcrowded.
Many of the schools operated on a “half-day system”, where students would attend classes half the day and spend the rest of their time cooking, cleaning and jobs that was justified as “vocational training” but in many cases it was really a low-cost way to operate the buildings.
Students were discouraged, and often outright forbidden, from speaking their Aboriginal languages, with survivors telling of receiving the strap and having their mouths washed out with soap for speaking their maternal tongues.
Sports, art and other recreational activities, despite being a source of relief and positive memories for many survivors, were chronically underfunded and they too, were often meant as a way to promote assimilation.
Many schools did not provide their students with enough to eat, with one survivor describing a regular diet of boiled fish, including scales and bones, mixed up with flour.