For the teachers

The residential school system and its impact now feature in the school curriculum of every Canadian province and territory. Residential schools are part of Canada’s past, and though they make up a tragic chapter of our history, no account of our national story is complete without giving it the place it deserves.

WILLIAM can be used as a teaching tool to deepen the learning experience of students aged 13 and older. Through it they will learn, often for the first time, the sad reality of the residential school system. This VR experience can help students become active witnesses of the material they learn in the classroom.

By plunging into a dramatic world, they will experience, at a more visceral level, something they could otherwise ignore by confining it to abstraction and history textbooks. In bringing real events back to life, WILLIAM makes it clear to the user that residential schools are a part of the lives of thousands of Indigenous people who must still deal today with the effects of a system that had a disastrous effect on their culture, their communities, and themselves.

If you have any questions, please email us!

Tutorial video

An Invitation to Discovery and Discussion

By adopting a first-person perspective, WILLIAM invites us to look into the personal, day-to-day experience of the schoolchildren. Every episode depicts some key event that every young resident had to live out.

Each experience therefore raises a number of questions that can be addressed more systematically in the classroom after viewing. Here are some examples of discussion topics that could follow a viewing of the six episodes.

Episode 1

Early Years

  • Traditional ways of life in Indigenous communities
  • Traditional beliefs and values
  • Basis and evolution of the residential school system
Complementary activities

Episode 2

The Indian Agent

  • The role of the Indian Agent in the age of residential schools
  • The assimilation policy adopted by the federal government from the 1880s on
  • Relations between the federal government and Indigenous communities from Confederation to the present day
Complementary activities

Episode 3

Arriving at the School

  • The number of Indigenous children who lived in residential schools
  • The role of religious institutions in the residential school system
  • The importance of locating residential schools far from reserves to facilitate assimilation
Complementary activities

Episode 4

The Classroom

  • A day in the life of a school resident
  • The content of courses taught at residential schools
  • Education, evangelization and assimilation as “pillars” of the system
  • The place of labour in the children’s educational program
Complementary activities

Episode 5

The Dormitory

  • The psychological cost of isolation and alienation in children
  • The frequency and severity of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse in residential schools
Complementary activities

Episode 6

Homecoming

  • Effects of the residential school system on the development of Indigenous communities today
  • The role of the family in transmitting culture and language
Complementary activities
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