The state of Canada's former residential school buildings

Canada's last Indian residential school closed in 1996, but many of the physical structures from that dark chapter in Canada's history still stand. Here's a look at the fate or current use of some of these buildings across the country.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for a national plan to commemorate the sites

The Battleford Industrial School in the Northwest Territories took in at least 100 students each year after the Red River Resistance in the late 1860s until the school closed in 1914. The building burned down in 2003, but there's been a renewed campaign to preserve the cemetery. (Archives of Canada) (Archives of Canada)

Canada's last Indian residential school closed in 1996, but many of the physical structures from that dark chapter in Canada's history still stand.

In its final report in 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on the federal government to provide sufficient resources to identify, document and commemorate the children who died in the residential school system. It also called for a national plan to commemorate residential school sites.

But Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba, wants more to be done.

Moran told MPs on Tuesday the federal government should help Indigenous communities that want to preserve the country's few remaining residential school buildings to honour former students.

"It's essential for us, as humanity, not only that we celebrate who we are when we're at our best, but also [that] we never forget who we have been when we've been at our worst," he said 

At the peak of the residential school system in the 1930s, there were about 80 of the schools operating in Canada. Here's how some of Canada's residential school buildings are being used now.

Blue Quills Residential School

The Blue Quills school, near St. Paul, Alta., opened its doors in 1931 and was run by the Roman Catholic Church. Today, it has been renamed Blue Quills First Nations College and is run by the seven First Nations communities that surround it.

A large red brick building.
(Terry Reith/CBC) (Terry Reith/CBC)

St. Eugene Mission School, Ktunaxa Nation

"The Mission," as it's known locally, was a former residential school and Catholic mission that was established to bring Christian education to First Nations in the B.C. Interior. The school was closed in 1970 and largely abandoned for two decades. In the early 2000s, the historic building and grounds were converted into a golf resort and casino, which is operated by the local Ktunaxa Nation in partnership with the Samson Cree Nation and the Mnjikaning First Nations.

(St. Eugene Mission Resort/The Associated Press)

Birtle Indian Residential School

The old Birtle Indian Residential School in Manitoba has been sitting vacant for several year. The province's historical society says it was sold in 2016, but it still sits largely abandoned. Some have suggested it be demolished.

Mohawk Institute, Six Nations, Ont.

The Anglican Church ran the former Mohawk Institute, now the Woodland Cultural Centre, from the 1830s until 1970, housing children from the Six Nations Iroquois and others from communities across Ontario.

(Jeff Goodes/CBC)

Île-à-la-Crosse Residential School

The residential school in Île-à-la-Crosse, Sask., was shut down in the mid-1970s and later turned into an alcohol rehabilitation centre. Carolyn Bennett, now minister for Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, and two survivors participated in a symbolic demolition of the school in 2016.

(Submitted by Northern Village of Île-à-la-Crosse)

Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School

A drawing shows the former Portage la Prairie Indian Residential School in Manitoba, which operated from 1916 to 1975. The site is now used as a resource centre for the Long Plain First Nation. In 2005, it was designated as a Provincial Heritage Site and a plaque was erected in front of the building.


Assiniboia Indian Residential School

The Assiniboia Indian Residential School, located in Winnipeg's River Heights neighbourhood, now houses the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. Former students toured the building earlier this year.

(Tim Fontaine/CBC)

Sir Alexander Mackenzie School

Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik was built in 1959 before becoming an elementary school managed by the territory. It closed in 2012 and was demolished in 2014.

(Philippe Morin/CBC)