The intergenerational effects of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools have been widely discussed, but limited empirical work exists. I use the confidential wave of the 2001 Aboriginal Peoples Survey of Children and Youth (APSCY) to study the association between mothers’ residential school attendance and their children’s educational outcomes and experiences in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. Holding a number of factors constant, I demonstrate that children whose mothers attended residential school are more likely to be suspended or expelled and have worse school experiences on average than children whose mothers did not. Children are also more likely to live off reserve and less likely to speak an Aboriginal language if their mothers attended a residential school. I also examine some contextual factors that may influence the relationship between mothers’ residential school attendance and their children’s educational outcomes. These findings suggest that dealing with the intergenerational legacy of residential schools is necessary for improving the educational outcomes of today’s Aboriginal youth.


I thank Statistics Canada for access to confidential data. I also thank Chris Auld, Pascal Courty, Nicole Fortin, David Green, Rob Hancock, Anke Kessler, Krishna Pendakur, David Scoones, Linda Welling, and Graham Voss for their valuable comments. I would also like to thank Linda Voss for her excellent research assistance. I would also like to thank two anonymous referees whose comments substantially improved this work. All shortcomings of this work are my own.

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