In response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action around the role education can play in actively fostering reconciliation, numerous teachers and students have had opportunities to participate in events designed to reach both hearts and minds. Walking Together: A Day of Education for Truth and Reconciliation held at the University of Regina, Project of Heart and the KAIROS Blanket Exercise are a few that come to mind.
What more can teachers and schools do to build upon these learnings and to move forward on the journey towards reconciliation? Many Saskatchewan curricula include entry points on the history of residential schools, treaties and the historic and contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples to Canada. Additionally, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Education’s document Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators presents a K-12 continuum of approaches that can be incorporated into subject areas.
Scores of resources are available in the Stewart Resources Centre that provide background and ideas for teaching about residential schools and reconciliation. The publication, 100 Years of Loss: The Residential School System in Canada Teacher’s Guide, which was published by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, consists of six lesson plans dealing with the federal apology, how the schools were created, identity, the legacy of the schools and ways to promote healing and reconciliation.
The First Nations Education Steering Committee and the First Nations Schools Association in British Columbia have developed Indian Residential Schools and Reconciliation Teacher Resource Guides for grades 5, 10 and 11/12 that are focused on promoting understanding of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people through Canada’s history and on healing and reconciliation. Stolen Lives: The Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Indian Residential Schools, created by Facing History and Ourselves, is a teacher resource which features a series of readings and questions that can be used with secondary students.
Deeply moving children’s resources on the topic are also available. Books suitable for K-5 students include: As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden, Fatty Legs: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and Little Butterfly Girl: An Indian Residential School Story by Jenny Restoule-Mallozzi. Shin-chi’s Canoe and Shi-shi-etko, both by Nicola Campbell, are two other poignant books. Shi-shi-etko is also available as a streamed video on ROVER (Recommended Online Video Education Resources).
DVDs for middle years students include: A Day at Indian Residential Schools in Canada produced by Indigenous Education Press, and An Overview of Residential Schools in Canada produced by McIntyre Media. Profoundly memorable books at that level include: No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of the Kuper Island Residential School by Rita Morris, Sylvia Olsen and Ann Sam, and A Stranger at Home: A True Story by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton.
Powerful books at the secondary level include: Kitoskâyiminawak Pîkiskwêwak: Our Young People Speak: The Healing Edition published by the Prairie Valley School Division, Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story, a graphic novel by David A. Robertson, Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools by Theodore Fontaine, Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese,The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by Joseph Auguste Merasty and David Carpenter, and Moving Forward: A Collection About Truth and Reconciliation, a new anthology in the iLit series published by McGraw-Hill.
Numerous other suggestions can be found in our collection of websites devoted to residential schools and reconciliation. To deepen your understanding of teaching and learning for reconciliation, why not make it your personal call to action to read and view some of these or other resources on this topic over the summer? To borrow any of them, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.