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Performance & Culture, Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, engagement

Resources and readings to start National Indigenous History Month

June 02, 2021

By Nicole Manson

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. This month was created to honour the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and to recognize the strength of Indigenous communities today. After the news that came out this past week, it highlights the importance of this more than ever.

While the news of the discovery at the former residential school site in the community of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation was shocking to hear for most people, this truth has been known for more than a century. In 1907, the federal chief medical officer, Dr. Peter Bryce, was sent to review sanitary conditions of residential schools in Canada. “The Bryce Report” (Bryce, 1907) was presented to the federal government by Dr. Bryce, which documented and released evidence of the death rates of Indigenous children in residential schools.

More recently, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released their final report in 2015, which includes Canada’s Residential Schools: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials (Volume 4, TRC 2015). This volume documents survivor experiences and, “…is a systematic effort to record and analyze the deaths at the schools, and the presence and condition of student cemeteries, with the regulatory context in which the schools were intended to operate.” (pg 1, Vol. 4, TRC 2015). The TRC also included six Calls to Action related to Missing Children and Unmarked Burials, which to date have not been fulfilled. Most of the work and research, like in this most recent case, are being completed by the First Nations themselves.

Elders have said “Integrity is when your words have meaning.” So, I would encourage people to read the TRC report and honour the courage of those survivors and families that shared their stories with us.

In addition to the TRC report there are other books, films, podcast, and reports that can help you learn more about residential schools and their impacts. Here are just a few:

Children’s Books

  • As long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie
  • I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
  • I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe
  • Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton
  • Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
  • Shin-Chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell
  • Amik Loves School by Katherena Vermette
  • When I was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • When We Were Alone by David Alexander Robertson

Middle School Books

  • A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordon-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • Fatty Legs by Christy Jordon-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • Residential Schools with the Words and Images of Survivors, A National History by Larry Loyie, Wayne K. Spear and Constance Brissenden
  • Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith
  • Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David Alexander Robertson

High School/Young Adult Books

  • A Knock on the Door by National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
  • Broken Circle byTheodore Fontaine
  • Calling down the Sky by Rosanna Deerchild
  • Five Little Indians by Michelle Good
  • From Bear Rock Mountain by Antoine Mountain
  • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
  • Kiss the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway
  • UNeducation, Vol 1: A Residential School Graphic Novel (PG) by Jason Eaglespeaker

Adult Books

  • Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod
  • The Education of Augie Merasty by Joseph Auguste Merasty
  • The Red Files by Lisa Bird-Wilson
  • They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars
  • Unsettling the Settler Within by Paulette Reagan (non-Indigenous writer)
  • Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin and Alexander Shimo

Films

  • Holy Angels by Jay Cardinal Villeneuve, on NFB
  • Indian Horse by Stephen Campanelli (based on story by Richard Wagamese)
  • Kakalakkuvik by Jobie Weetaluktuk (on YouTube)
  • Muffins for Granny by Nadia McLaren
  • The Witness Blanket by Cody Graham and Carey Newman
  • We were Children by Tim Wolochatiuk (non-Indigenous director)
  • Where are the Children: Residential School Survivor Stories (available at https://legacyofhope.ca/english/education/videos/)

Podcasts

  • Still Here Still Healing hosted by Jade Roberts
  • Residential Schools by Historica Canada

Other Links

If you have any other resources you think we should add to this list, please email fcat_indg@sfu.ca

Note: book and film lists are courtesy of Megan Tipler (@tiplerteaches on Instagram).