Red Lake Regional Heritage Centre
Red Lake, Ontario

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Residential Schools: The Red Lake Story



Red Lake Indian School (at Forestry Point)


Ezra Peachy and his wife Nanny moved to Red Lake in 1959 from Pennsylvania. As one of the original teachers at the Red Lake Indian

School at Forestry Point, Ezra and his wife worked at this day school providing education to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

The information below was provided by Ezra Peachy in a 2004 Interview

  • A school in Red Lake was established by the Missions Interest Committee and supported by Amish Mennonite groups.
  • A boarding school was originally suggested but the group decided that a day school would be more practical.
  • Students that attended were primarily Aboriginal; there were a few non-Aboriginal students, along with the children of the Mennonite staff.
  • Grades 1-8 were taught.
  • Aboriginal youth were able to maintain a lot of their culture because students who attended the Indian School were able to go home to their families at night compared to other boarding schools.
  • Students spoke Ojibwa and Oji-Cree and wore their traditional clothing to school.
  • There was some housing for those who came to the Red Lake Indian school from fly-in Aboriginal communities.
  • There was a bus which transported students from around the Red Lake area, but most students walked.
  • All Mennonite teachers were unpaid volunteers who primarily came up from the U.S.
  • There was no fee for the Indian School unlike the Christian School which was private.
  • Aboriginal students did very well at the Indian School.
  • The school followed the standard Ontario Curriculum at that time with standardized testing.
  • Lunch was provided daily and a nutritionist gave advice on meal preparation.
  • Students rotated using shower facilities because they did not have plumbing facilities at home.
  • Money for the school was raised through donations by churches in the U.S. and a circle of churches in Southern Ontario.
  • Students who did not attend the Red Lake Indian School were often at the McIntosh and Pelican Residential Schools or the public schools.
  • The school was open at night time for students who wanted to learn more English or reading skills.
  • Additional teaching of hand crafts was provided by Mennonite ladies, such as blanket making and quilting.
  • The Red Lake Indian School was open for 7 years.
  • By 1975, local families pushed for approximately 1 year to get a Red Lake Christian School.
  • Ezra Peachy, one of the original teachers, was involved in the administration of the school as it changed from an Indian School to a Christian School.
  • There were more Aboriginal than non-Aboriginal students at this school.
  • The school was moved to a different location, now at the Mennonite Church a continuation of the Christian School at Forestry Point.

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