As a child, Theodore Fontaine only spoke the Ojibway language. From 1948 to 1960, he attended Canadian Indian Residential Schools, where he and other Indigenous people were forcibly assimilated into Canadian culture. There, they were punished for speaking languages other than English and converted to Christianity — a practice Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized as cultural genocide in 2015. Dark memories from Theodore’s time in school continued to plague him decades afterward, and he wrote the book “Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools” as a means of processing trauma and raising awareness about what he describes as the nearly complete extermination of indigeneity in Canada that these schools tried to achieve. He joins the show to talk about his experiences at the schools and the lasting effects of violent assimilation.
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