These residential schools were abuse camps.
My father and mother went to these schools. My father was taken from his parents at the age 6. Forced to stay in school for 10 months of the year, see his parents for the other two months. My father told me he was malnourished all the time there until he got to work in the kitchen to help prep foods to feed the other students. He'd tell me the priests would eat good while the kids were fed porridge and stale bread, hardly any meat.
My father told me that he ran away from the school when he was 12. He jumped the fence, walked two days to get back home. When he got home, the priests and police were there waiting for him. My father said he had to return or they were going to arrest my grandparents if he didn't go back willingly. My father went back and was strapped on his buttocks by the priests so much that he couldn't sit for days.
It was no picnic for him back then, My father resented the Church, internalized his anger. He didn't get a formal education in these so-called schools.
The thing is that my mother never experienced any abuse in the girls residential school. My mother got into the residential schools late when she was 12. Her grandfather would take her with him when he worked in lumber camps started up in the Spring until they closed for the Winter. Then they come back to the Rez when the coast was clear. It was when she turned 12, the local RCMPs showed up and had taken her to the girls residential school. My mother didn't speak a word of English when she went to that school. She only spoke in Ojibwe and French. The other kids would make fun of her by calling her "Bush Girl" in hushed Ojibwe or point out a word in a book and ask her what does that say. The nuns instructed her French at first, but she quickly grasped English within 2 years. The nuns would marvel on what great work they did in the name of God to educate this poor girl from the wilderness.
When the old residential schools that my parents went to were later converted to affordable housing for white people. It burned down later on, my parents were glad it burned down. BTW, nobody died when the school burned. It was that old and run down