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Truth and Reconciliation Resources

September 30, 2021

Truth, respect, and prosperity for all

September 30 is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s a day to honour the survivors of residential schools, as well as the children who never went home. It is also Orange Shirt Day, an initiative started by residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad, Northern Secwepemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, to raise awareness of residential schools and spread the message that every child matters.

For more than 160 years, Indigenous children were taken from their homes to residential schools. At these schools, children suffered physical, mental, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse and the loss of their language and traditions. The legacy of these schools resulted in intergenerational trauma among Indigenous people and communities.

It’s estimated that over 150,000 First Nation, Métis, and Inuit children were sent to residential schools before the last one, Gordon’s Indian Residential School in Punnichy, SK, closed in 1996. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimated that approximately 6,000 children may have died, but it is unknown how many deaths were not documented.

Canada launched the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008 to inform the public about residential schools and what happened to survivors, families, and communities. In 2015, they released their “What We Have Learned” report and 94 Calls to Action for the government and all Canadians. In “What We Have Learned,” the Commission defined reconciliation as “establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in this country. In order for that to happen, there has to be awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm that has been inflicted, atonement for the causes, and action to change behaviour.” They asked for Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well. 

Murray Sinclair, former Senator and Chair of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, talks about what he thinks reconciliation is in this video. 

 

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is hosting free, virtual events all week. You can also check out CBC’s Beyond 94 project, which monitors the progress on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action.

For Truth and Reconciliation week, and every week, PLT Canada is committed to continuing our education and advancing reconciliation through our work. We’ve compiled a few resources that we have found particularly helpful in this journey in learning about truth and reconciliation. This is not a complete list of resources, and we encourage everyone to spend more time researching and furthering their learning.

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Resources

General Resources

Listen to Eddy Robinson as he explains why “How can I help?” is not the right question to ask. He says, first, you need to educate yourself. 

Here are a few resources to start your education. Again, this list is not all encompassing, and we encourage you to continue your research.

  • Territory acknowledgements: Knowing whose traditional territory you live and work on is part of truth and reconciliation. To learn more, one resource you can explore is Native-Land, an interactive map that helps you search for different traditional and treaty territories. Then, read this short article on why we acknowledge territory and some tips on how to. In general, a respectful territory acknowledgement will identify the Indigenous communities or nations who assert their rights, historical, or contemporary presence in an area; recognize the people identified as how they refer to themselves; and include the purpose and intent behind the acknowledgement. PLT Canada also developed a 2-hour course on Acknowledging Traditional and Treaty Territory with Sault College.
  • The Indian Act: The Indian Act has been in place for over 140 years. This CBC article highlights 21 restrictions that have been imposed at some point by The Act.
  • The Pass System: For more than 60 years, many First Nations were not allowed to leave their reserves without a pass. This documentary, which you can rent for $5, features Nehiyaw, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe, and Niitsitapi elders who talk about their experiences living under the pass system.
  • Residential Schools: One of the reports from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was called “The Survivors Speak,” which compiles statements from some residential school survivors. Survivors also share their stories and discuss the generational impacts of residential schools in Stolen Children, Wawahte, and We Were Children. The three-part podcast, Residential Schools, commemorates the history and legacy of residential schools as well.
  • Sixties Scoop: In the 1960s and later, thousands of Indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in child welfare systems. Watch this short video to get background information on the Sixties Scoop, then hear from survivors and activists on the ongoing impacts.
  • Jordan’s Principle: Jordan’s Principle ensures that First Nations children have equal access to government-funded services. The law is named after Jordan River Anderson, who spent all five years of his life in the hospital as provincial and federal governments argued over his care. Watch the documentary, Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, to learn about his story.
  • Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: Canada launched a National Inquiry to investigate the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls. You can read the final report here. You can also listen to one girl’s story on the Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo podcast and watch Searchers: Highway of Tears, which follows an ex-cop who investigates some of the cases of missing and murdered women along the Highway of Tears, a 724km corridor of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert, BC, where many Indigenous women have been murdered or gone missing.

Resources for educators

Reconciliation can be incorporated throughout your curriculum, and there are many lesson plans and resources available for educators. The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation also has educator-focused events during Truth and Reconciliation week; see the schedule here. Check out some more resources below:

Resources for kids 

There are many resources available to help parents, or those with children in their lives, talk to kids about residential schools and reconciliation. Here are just a few:

Resources on land, treaties, and environmental stewardship

PLT Canada’s office and much of our team lives and works in the traditional, unceded territory of the Algonquin nation. We recognize the Algonquin’s time-honoured relationships with and stewardship of its lands and waters, and are committed to upholding our shared responsibilities to continue that stewardship for present and future generations.

It is important to acknowledge and respect the land we are on, and reflect on it. Here are some resources about traditional territories, treaties, and Indigenous stewardship.

Support Indigenous media

A great way to learn more is to listen, watch, and read content created by First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

  • This Place podcast, hosted by Rosanna Deerchild, takes you through 150 years of Indigenous resistance and resilience. 
  • Comb through this list of 48 books by Indigenous writers for kids and adults.
  • Jeremy explores his identity as someone of Indigenous and white heritage through the Pieces podcast.
  • On ConnectR, you can explore tons of resources to watch, listen, read, and support.

You can also consume news from Indigenous media! A non-exhaustive list of publications includes:

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