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Take the free University of Alberta open online course Indigenous Canada that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
Looking for more? Check out our great lists of non-fiction books and podcasts on this page, or look at our catalogue to see even more related items!
Help your kids learn about residential schools and indigenous issues by picking out books at your library to read together or by themselves.
You can also pick up one of the great fiction books listed in this guide for yourself!
Shi-Shi-Etko by Nicola I. Campbell; Kim LaFave (Illustrator)Winner of the Anskohk Aboriginal Children's Book of the Year Award. Finalist for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award, the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the Ruth Schwartz Award In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school. She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping. Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that Indigenous Peoples have endured for generations because of the residential schools system. Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.K.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.3 Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.1.7 Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.2.5 Describe the overall structure of a story, including describing how the beginning introduces the story and the ending concludes the action.
Publication Date: 2005-08-09
Secret Path by Gord Downie; Jeff Lemire (Illustrator)Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago. Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago. Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie's home was 400 miles away. He didn't know that. He didn't know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids--more than anyone will be able to imagine--he tried. Chanie's story is Canada's story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be rewritten. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada's history--the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system--with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada. The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him--as we find out about ourselves, about all of us--but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, "Canada."
Publication Date: 2016-10-18
Phyllis's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad; Brock Nicol (Summary by); Allison Parker (Editor)Phyllis's Orange Shirt is an adaptaion of The Orange Shirt Story which was the best selling children's book in Canada for several weeks in September 2018(Book manager). This true story also inspired the movement of Orange Shirt Day which could become a federal statuatory holiday.When Phyllis was a little girl she was excited to go to residential school for the first time. Her Granny bought her a bright orange shirt that she loved and she wore it to school for her first day. When she arrived at school her bright orange shirt was taken away. This is both Phyllis Webstad's true story and the story behind Orange Shirt Day which is a day for us all to reflect upon the treatment of First Nations people and the message that 'Every Child Matters'. Adapted for ages 4-6.
Publication Date: 2019-08-01
As Long As the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie; Heather D. Holmlund (Illustrator); Constance Brissenden (As told to)Winner of the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children's Non-Fiction In the 1800s, the education of First Nations children was taken on by various churches, in government-sponsored residential schools. Children were forcibly taken from their families in order to erase their traditional languages and cultures. As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of Larry Loyie's last summer before entering residential school. It is a time of learning and adventure. He cares for an abandoned baby owl and watches his grandmother make winter moccasins. He helps the family prepare for a hunting and gathering trip. Correlates to the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting) CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.4.3 Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.5 Explain how a series of chapters, scenes, or stanzas fits together to provide the overall structure of a particular story, drama, or poem.
Publication Date: 2005-10-12
Go Show the World by Wab Kinew; Joe Morse (Illustrator)"We are a people who matter." Inspired by President Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. "We are a people who matter." Inspired by President Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington. Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message- "We are people who matter, yes, it's true; now let's show the world what people who matter can do."
Publication Date: 2018-09-11
"A reconciliACTION is a meaningful action that moves reconciliation forward. ReconciliACTIONs aim to bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together in the spirit of reconciliation to create awareness, share, and learn. It is the answer to Gord’s call to ‘Do Something’; do something to raise further awareness, do something that improves the lives of Indigenous people, do something that improves the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people." Find out more at the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund website.
Join the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society, the Assembly of Seven Generations, Project of Heart and Beechwood Cemetery virutally on September 30 for “a day of education, reflection and action towards reconciliation.”
National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day
September 30 was recently named as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It is also Orange Shirt Day which was created in 2013 as “an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind” (Orange Shirt Day Society). It is up to all of us to stand in solidarity with Indigenous families, communities and Nations by becoming educated on the history and intergenerational impacts of the Indian Residential School system. #EveryChildMatters
Learn more through the Orange Shirt Day Society and hear from Phyllis Webstad, "the original orange shirt", as she tells her story.
Where to find support if you need it: Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line at 1-866-925-4419 (Indigenous folks), or Lambton College Counselling Services (all).
For over 100 years, thousands of Aboriginal children passed through the Canadian residential school system. Begun in the 1870s, it was intended, in the words of government officials, to bring these children into the "circle of civilization"...
...the results, however, were far different. More often, the schools provided an inferior education in an atmosphere of neglect, disease, and often abuse... A National Crime shows that the residential system was chronically underfunded and often mismanaged, and documents in detail and how this affected the health, education, and well-being of entire generations of Aboriginal children.
Like thousands of Aboriginal children in Canada, and elsewhere in the colonized world, Xatsu'll chief Bev Sellars spent part of her childhood as a student in a church-run residential school...
These institutions endeavored to "civilize" Native children through Christian teachings; forced separation from family, language, and culture; and strict discipline. Perhaps the most symbolically potent strategy used to alienate residential school children was addressing them by assigned numbers only--not by the names with which they knew and understood themselves.
In a moment where unlawful pipelines are built on Indigenous territories, the RCMP make illegal arrests of land defenders on unceded lands, and anti-Indigenous racism permeates social media... wade through media misinformation and government propaganda and get to the heart of key issues lost in the noise...
From one of the most important, inspiring, and fearless voices on Indigenous rights, decolonization, Canadian politics, social justice, earth justice, and beyond, Warrior Life is an unflinching critique of the colonial project that is Canada and a rallying cry for Indigenous Peoples and allies alike to forge a path toward a decolonial future through resistance and resurgence.
...Jody Wilson-Raybould has represented both First Nations and the Crown at the highest levels and she is not afraid to give Canadians what they need most - straight talk on what has to be done to move beyond our colonial legacy and achieve true reconciliation in Canada...
The good news is that Indigenous Nations already have the solutions. But now is the time to act and build a shared postcolonial future based on the foundations of trust, cooperation, recognition, and good governance.
In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel initiates myriad conversations about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada...
An advocate for Indigenous worldviews, the author discusses the fundamental issues the terminology of relationships; culture and identity; myth-busting; state violence; and land, learning, law and treaties along with wider social beliefs about these issues. She answers the questions that many people have on these topics to spark further conversations at home, in the classroom, and in the larger community.
It can start with a knock on the door one morning. It is the local Indian agent, or the parish priest, or, perhaps, a Mounted Police officer. So began the school experience of many Indigenous children in Canada for more than a hundred years...
...and so begins the history of residential schools prepared by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)... In the past, agents of the Canadian state knocked on the doors of Indigenous families to take the children to school. Now, the Survivors have shared their truths and knocked back. It is time for Canadians to open the door to mutual understanding, respect, and reconciliation.
In this book, author Pamela Rose Toulouse provides current information, personal insights, authentic resources, interactive strategies and lesson plans that support Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners in the classroom.
This book is for all teachers that are looking for ways to respectfully infuse residential school history, treaty education, Indigenous contributions, First Nation/Métis/Inuit perspectives and sacred circle teachings into their subjects and courses. The author presents a culturally relevant and holistic approach that facilitates relationship building and promotes ways to engage in reconciliation activities.
Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school...
Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn't want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission. Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can't stop running and moves restlessly from job to job--through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps--trying to outrun his memories and his addiction. Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together. After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew. With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.
Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams...
She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly's Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected. With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Bernice finds the strength to face the past and draw the lessons from her dreams that she was never fully taught in life. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women's experience, regardless of culture or race.
When Garnet Raven was three years old, he was taken from his home on an Ojibway Indian reserve and placed in a series of foster homes. Having reached his mid-teens, he escapes at the first available opportunity, only to find himself cast adrift on the streets of the big city...
Having skirted the urban underbelly once too often by age 20, he finds himself thrown in jail. While there, he gets a surprise letter from his long-forgotten native family. The sudden communication from his past spurs him to return to the reserve following his release from jail. Deciding to stay awhile, his life is changed completely as he comes to discover his sense of place, and of self. While on the reserve, Garnet is initiated into the ways of the Ojibway -- both ancient and modern -- by Keeper, a friend of his grandfather, and last fount of history about his people's ways. By turns funny, poignant and mystical, Keeper'n Me reflects a positive view of Native life and philosophy -- as well as casting fresh light on the redemptive power of one's community and traditions.
When Tilly receives an invitation to help drive eight elders on their ultimate bucket-list road trip, she impulsively says yes. Before she knows it, Tilly has said good-bye to her family and is on an adventure that will transform her in ways she could not predict...
... just as it will for the elders who soon dub themselves "the Crazy Eights." The Crazy Eights each choose a stop--somewhere or something they've always wanted to experience--on the way to their ultimate goal, the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque. Their plan is to travel to Las Vegas, Sedona, and the Redwood Forests, with each destination the inspiration for secrets and stories to be revealed. The trip proves to be powerful medicine as they laugh, heal, argue, and dream along the way. By the time their bus rolls to a stop in New Mexico, Tilly and the Crazy Eights, with friendships forged and hearts mended, feel ready for anything. But are they?
Indigenous Land Rights and Reconciliation Podcast
This podcast presents a series of six live panel presentations delivered at the Indigenous Land Rights and Reconciliation workshop at Queen’s University in September of 2019. The series theorizes the justifications for land rights from indigenous perspectives and investigates how these understandings challenge and enrich theories in the Western tradition.
Secret Life of Canada
The Secret Life of Canada is a history podcast about the country you know and the stories you don't. Hosted by Falen Johnson and Leah Simone Bowen.
The Henceforward is a podcast that considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island. They take an open and honest look at how these relationships can go beyond what has been constructed through settler colonialism and antiblackness and investigate what our mutual obligations and possibilities for contingent collaboration are, and much more.
Intelligent, Insightful, Indigenous. Stories, music, culture. Unreserved is the true voice of Indigenous Canada. 2020/21 hosted by Falen Johnson.
Hosted by Mi’kmaq lawyer, professor, activist and politician Pam Palmater, this podcast talks about what it means to live the ‘warrior life’ through discussion on various topics with Indigenous guests from all over Canada.
2 Crees in a Pod
Terri Sunjens and Amber Dion host this podcast on Indigenous social work, education, and other relevant topics with special guests from across the country.