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Sociology: Mental And Sexual Atrocities

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1. What was the most surprising thing that stood out to you about the film?

2. What did you find most difficult to watch/hear?

3. Do you think that most Canadians really know about what went on in Residential Schools? Why or why not?

4. How did the experiences and education being taught in the Residential Schools affect the student’s sense of self-worth?

5. The 100 years of Residential schools have been called “Canada’s Holocaust”. If this is true, then why are most people ignorant to what really went on? Why do you think people hold so easily to their negative stereotypes (or racist views)?

6. How do you think this could affect a person’s choices after leaving the Residential School?

7. How do you think we can promote reconciliation after all of the harm that has been done? Did the national apology from Steven Harper make a difference?  Why or why not?

8. What are you going to do with what you’ve seen? How will this affect you (and how you treat your patients or people in society) in your nursing career? 



1. The most surprising thing about the movie ‘We were children’ is the manner in which the Canadian government’s residential system got involved in physical, mental and sexual atrocities to young children. The scene of Lyna being subjected to hunger, loneliness, racism and abuse at such a young age truly makes me question why should children be subjected to such atrocities at such young age when they needs to be nurtured and cared.

2. The most disturbing scene for me is Glen’s attempt to commit suicide.

3. I think Canadians were aware about the atrocities in Residential school because the Canadian Government formally apologized for these schools in June 2008. The Canadian Residential school system was started way back in the 1850s and since then about 1,50, 000 aboriginal children in Canada were legally forced to attend the residential schools. The main purpose was to integrate the aboriginal population into the Canadian society. All Canadian are now aware of the atrocities and horrendous experience of children in these schools after the government apology and several attempts to retell the story. The movie “We were children” has disclosed the horror acts to the world through the narration and acting of Lyna and Glen. Several reports also covered atrocities in residential schools which depicted violation of child’s self esteem and culture. 

4. The experience and education taught in Residential schools affected the student’s self-worth in many ways. This can be understood from the experiences of the character Lyna and Glen in the movie “We were children”.  These children were punished for speaking their own language and often locked up in storage room for several days. They were victims of abuse and have witnessed abuse done to other children too at the residential school. Their feeling of self-worth was highly affected as it was seen in the movie that both Lyna and Glen faced lot of difficulty in adjusting to life outside school. They had a feeling that they were not suitable to fit into the white society and it lead may children to attempt suicide to stop their sufferings. All form of abuses, poor sanitation along with overcrowding and threatening has resulted in poor self-esteem in affected children and rise in social dysfunction over the generation.


5. The Residential school system has been called the Canada’s holocaust, still may people are ignorant to what happened at the school. This can be said because despite several reports on negative experience of residential school children, nothing has been done still to improve the experience of these children or the survivors. They now suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome and have poor social and professional skills. Aboriginal community is still in need f ways to health their wounds caused by substance abuse, violence and crime.

The experience of children at the Canadian residential school depicts racial stereotyping practices in society. They were abused because of their race and origin. People hold on to negative stereotypes because of their social values and attitude towards people. Some engage in this racial stereotype because they were also a part of it. It was also found that children experiencing racism in residential school tend to transmit this across generation depicting their own experience as a factor influencing such acts.

Negative stereotypes can affects a person’s choice after leaving the residential school because they will also adapt the abusive behavior learned from residential school. It will lead to a intergenerational trauma in which effects of racial experience will be passed on to vulnerable children. Due to this racial stereotypes, their cultural values and sense will be affected leading to harmful consequence in the future. They might develop feelings of low self-esteem and sense of worthlessness in life. They struggle to fit in society and develop mistrust towards people.

7. After all the damage done to children in Residential schools, reconciliation can be done by promoting the rights of Aboriginal community throughout Canada. Healing initiative can also be undertaken to counsel affected children and help them overcome different psychological problem. Several such healing initiative has been implemented in Canada to address sexual and physical abuse in affected person.

The national apology of Stephen Harper has not worked because he is not committed to true reconciliation efforts. People still do not get real benefit as residential school survivors face several issues in their life till now. Sustained action is required to make the reconciliation efforts possible.


8. As a nurse, I would deal with such children in a very compassionate manner. In case of people suffering from substance abuse, I would provide them drug treatment and rehabilitation support. I would provide treatment to break their addictions and manage their withdrawal symptoms. I would provide emotional support and physical care to residential school survivors.


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