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Resources for Indigenous History

Photo from Parliament Hill showing flowers and shoes and a sign that says, "Every Child Matters".

Today is the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day – originally known as Orange Shirt Day.

The significance of the orange shirt comes from Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor.

At the age of 6, in 1973, Phyllis was sent to a residential school and her grandmother bought her a brand new orange shirt to wear on her first day, but when she arrived at the Mission school, she was stripped, and her clothes were taken – including the orange shirt.

On September 30th, we wear orange to remember her stories and the 150,000 Indigenous children who were also taken from their families, communities and cultures.

The Federal Government announced September 30th as National Truth and Reconciliation Day. While this is a great step forward on Canada’s part, we need to remember this day is for reflection and not celebration and there is more work to be done.

We have put together a list of resources here to help learn and reflect on the importance of not only this day, but Canada’s history in general when it comes to the treatment of Indigenous people.

There are still 94 calls to action that have yet to be met.

Resources

  • Indigenous Canada – A free course offered by the University of Alberta that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.
  • National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation – The NCTR is a place of learning and dialogue where the truths of the residential school experience will be honoured and kept safe for future generations.
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action – In 2015, following interviews with more than 6,000 survivors affected by residential schools, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) published its final report which included 94 calls to action. Only 10 have been completed.
  • Beyond 94 – A CBC project that monitors the progress of the TRC’s Calls to Action.
  • Secret Path – An animated film and documentary based on the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie’s ten poems created about Chanie Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who fled a residential school and died while trying to walk home to his family 400 miles away.
  • The Residential School System – An article from the University of British Columbia on the history of residential schools and the ongoing impacts.
  • Reading for Reconciliation – A list of books on residential schools and insight and perspective on Indigenous history, issues, myths, facts, and paths forward. Includes suggested reading for youth
  • PodcastsUnreserved, Twisted Histories, The Secret Life of Canada
  • Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Presentation
  • We Know the Truth
  • Can Geo Films documentary Returning Home
  • Places to Donate

    • Indian Residential School Survivors Society – IRSSS provides essential services to Residential School Survivors, their families, and those dealing with Intergenerational traumas.
    • Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) – NWAC exists to enhance, promote and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of Indigenous women
    • Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) – CRE is a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth who believe that in order to bridge the gap between Canada’s peoples and work towards reconciliation, we need to become educated and aware of the teachings, triumphs, and daily realities of Indigenous communities
    • Indspire – Indspire educates, connects, and invests in First Nations, Inuit and Métis people to help achieve their highest potential
    • The Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund

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