Overview

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Sioux Lookout Indian Residential School, formally known as Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, was built by the federal government in partnership with the Anglican Church in 1926. The Anglicans had become concerned that Indigenous children in northwestern Ontario had few opportunities for 'proper' education and lobbied for a school in this area. The school came to be known as "Sioux Lookout" because it was located close to the town of the same name. Many of the students who attended this school were made to travel a long distance from home. Isolated, young, and scared, the students struggled to find meaning in their experiences and latched on to whatever they could to help them get through their time at school.

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The Anglican Church was involved in the residential school system for about 150 years. During that time it ran about thirty-six residential schools and hostels for Indigenous students. These institutions were scattered mostly throughout the northern parts of Central and Western Canada. In fact, they operated one of the most northerly schools in the whole system, located in Coppermine, in the former Northwest Territories (now Nunavut). Bearing in mind that the official records on residential schools are imprecise, the Anglican Church's first schools were likely the Red River Settlement Boarding School, which opened in 1820 and was located in Manitoba, and the Mohawk Institute, which opened circa 1831 and was located in Ontario.  

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At the height of their involvement in the 1920s, the Anglicans ran more than twenty schools at the same time. It was the second highest number after the Catholic Church. In 1969, all churches halted their involvement in residential schools and hostels, which were now to be administered by the federal government. Yet, even more changes lay ahead, as the federal government was looking to remove itself from the daily operations of schooling by ushering the children into the public education system. The last Anglican-run school to close was Stringer Hall, which was located in the Northwest Territories. It closed around 1970. Sioux Lookout Indian Residential School was closed shortly thereafter, in the early 1970s.