Finding Fridays – the Missionaries

History in the Canadian West

Saskatchewan AnglicanMissionaries coming to the west started changing a nomadic way of life. They changed the way fur traders and voyageurs treated native women and started educating the children as well as teaching them Christian beliefs.  There is much controversy and arguments on whether this was right or not.  But in a changing world for the Natives the protection of women was a good thing.  Now, Fur Traders and voyageurs weren’t so apt to have multiple wives – some in the west, one in the east.  They weren’t as apt to abandon their native wives either.

Another good thing (and most who believe education is the key to success) was the Missionaries started the first schools in the west and educated everyone, girls and boys alike.  Now we hear of tragic things that happened. The ‘bad apple gets the attention’ and it’s quite common for reports of evil and horrible deeds to gain that attention today. We don’t always hear of the good that happened.  Most natives I knew or know today do not begrudge education nor modern conveniences.

I agree, that it was as pathetic then as it is now, abusing children, but I’m sure there were good people, with good intentions, more than the bad ones.  We can’t change the past – we can only make sure it doesn’t happen in the present or future.  Schools and education cannot be thought as a bad thing, but only something that can be improved upon or corrected.  To have the status of wife instead of mistress was also an improvement for the women.

Old Church in Selkirk

The missionaries did help improve the lives of Native women and educated children. They had an impact on our history and the Canadian west.  It was not all bad like some believe.