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The ‘blatant Canadian failure’ that still haunts

In its ‘150th year’, the country is slowly facing up to its grievous schooling legacy

A teacher burns sage before fanning the smoke around her teenage pupils with a feather.

The ceremony is called smudging. Once it is completed, the 16- and 17-year-old teenagers make dreamcatchers – wooden hoops, covered with a woven web and used as protective charms against bad dreams – as loud indigenous people’s music blares out.

This is normal practice for pupils on a social studies course at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Ottawa – Canada’s capital. Like most schools in the city, only a small minority of pupils and staff are actually indigenous.

But everyone in the high school is ...

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