Penitential and Penitentiary: Native Canadians and Colonial Mission Education

  • Jamie S. Scott


Of Revelation and Revolution: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa, the first volume of Jean and John Comaroff’s exhaustive study of nonconformist London Missionary Society evangelists among the Tswana of southern Africa, drops some tantalizing remarks about the ways in which “[s]chooling actually provided the model for conversion; conversion, the model for schooling” (Comaroff and Comaroff 1991, 233). The Comaroffs return to this theme in the closing paragraphs of their second volume, The Dialectics of Modernity on a South African Frontier. Of modern Protestant evangelizing, they write: “If the whole world was its parish, it was also its classroom. The civilizing mission was above all a pedagogic crusade” (Comaroff and Comaroff 1997, 412). At the same, they indicate that this “pedagogic crusade” implicated a third party—the state—and they go on to draw a key distinction between the way educational policy developed in southern Africa and the way it evolved in the mother country. “While the state took control of mass schooling in Britain during the nineteenth century,” the Comaroffs note, “in South Africa missions long remained the major source of Western learning for indigenous peoples” (Comaroff and Comaroff 1997, 412; emphasis in the original). This chapter explores analogous issues in the Canadian colonial context, where a peculiar partnership developed between clergy and government on the issue of education for Native peoples.


Native People Native Child Alternative Dispute Resolution Residential School Native Leader 
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© Jamie S. Scott and Gareth Griffiths 2005

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  • Jamie S. Scott

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