Government Attempts to Assimilate Indigenous Women


According to many DIA publications, Indigenous women were believed to be at fault for the conditions and poor health on reserves. This led the agents to believe that Indigenous women needed to be 'domesticated' in ways that served the colonial government and motives. Girls were not taught any skills that would be of value to them outside of the home. Schools focused on teaching Indigenous girls how to be successful housewives. They were not allowed to be trained as nurses, teachers or clerks, all of which were needed on reserves Please see related entry titled "History of Racist and Gendered Perceptions of Indigenous Women."

This was a departure from many Indigenous cultures in which women held important roles within their communities. Often women were responsible for gathering and trapping, as well as many other duties within the community. By changing the nature of the relationship between Indigenous men and women, DIA agents created a new gender dynamic in which women were seen as lesser individuals because they had less educational skills and did not carry as much responsibility as they traditionally had before. This newly imposed gender hierarchy on Indigenous societies would have lasting implications for Indigenous women, such as raising the rates of domestic violence, a high percentage of Indigenous women being forced into work that endangered them, as well as high rates of Indigenous women living as single mothers in poverty. It’s important to note that the disparities and conditions Indigenous women were/are subjected to did not exist prior to the colonial government.

Carter, Sarah. "First Nations women of prairie Canada in the early reserve years, the 1870s to the 1920s: A preliminary inquiry." Women of the First Nations: Power, Wisdom and Strength (1996): 51-75

Sub Event
Using Education to Impose Patriarchal Values