One of the greatest mistakes and legislative failures in Canadian history, categorizing residential schools – public/private partnerships that sought to forcefully assimilate Indigenous children – as a social innovation will challenge many observers. Yet the effort to integrate (assimilate) Indigenous children shares much with the language and focus of many social innovations. This is a cautionary tale of making decisions for a population, seeking assimilation but labelling it resilience, and reminding future social innovators of the risks of disempowering populations in the name of a common social good.
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