Residential School systems contributed to the ethnic discrimination of aboriginal peoples by design. The primary factor was that the schools removed aboriginal children from the influence of their parents and aboriginal communities. In the isolated environment of the school these children could then be forcibly assimilated into the practices of the dominant culture. As the aboriginal cultural practices were viewed as being inferior, this process was viewed as being for the education and benefit of the children.
The schools themselves benefited from very little funding and generally failed to provide the students with a meaningful education. Children were taught skills to prepare them for a life as menial workers and servants, helping to entrench aboriginal peoples as inferior and subservient to members of the dominant culture.
Abuse at such residential schools was common. Emotional and psychological abuse was a prime means by which the aboriginal culture was struck from the children, and physical and sexual abuse was also frequently suffered by the children. The result of this was to ensure that while the children lost their native culture, they did not make the mistake of thinking they were becoming full members of the oppressive culture. They were not to be afforded the full consideration that those born into the dominant culture could rely upon.
All of these factors worked together to ensure that aboriginal children remained distinct from members of the colonizing society, leaving them prime targets for future discriminatory practices as they left the school and attempted to interface with the communities into which they had been forced.