For several hundred years, Aboriginal peoples have had to deal with a great number of challenges. Challenges that were generally initiated by the arrival of Europeans to what is presently considered North America, and by the growth and development of Canadian religious, economic, political, and social systems. As explained in the article, Troubled Hearts: Indigenous Peoples and the Crown in Canada, "the process of colonization unfolded, a sustained effort was made to impose, at first, French and British and then Canadian institutions on indigenous peoples," (Cassidy, 1994). Over the years, society assumed that Aboriginal peoples would eventually be engrossed into Canadian society and would in time adopt its culture and values. Attempts to impose unknown traditions strengthened into a constant effort to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into non-Aboriginal society. The residential school system was one important issue of the policy of assimilation. Residential schools were established and run by missionaries, and jointly funded by the Canadian government and churches. Aboriginal children were removed from their homes, often forcibly and were trained in European traditions and were prohibited to practise their own cultures or speak their own languages. Of those exposed to this separation of cultural, spiritual, and social traditions and customs encompassed and effected all successive generations of Aboriginal peoples. .
Consistent efforts were made to break down traditional indigenous ways and substitute them with institutions such as, the Indian Act government (Cassidy & Kavanagh, 1998).
Another important factor in assimilation was the reserve system. The reserve system was established by federal and provincial legislation, and saved tracts of land that were held in trust by the Crown. The reserve system assigned First Nations people to reside in specified areas. This system gradually expanded across the country.