Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous children is now recognized as a grievous historic wrong committed against First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples. Through historical photographs, documents and first-person narratives from people who survived residential schools, this book offers an account of the injustice of this period in Canadian history. It documents how official racism was confronted and finally acknowledged.
In 1857, the Gradual Civilization Act was passed in Canada with the aim of assimilating Indigenous people. In 1879, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald commissioned a report that led to residential schools across Canada. First Nations and Inuit children were taken from their families and sent to residential schools where they were dressed in uniforms, their hair was cut, they were forbidden to speak their native language and they were often subjected to physical and psychological abuse. The schools were run by churches and funded by the federal government.
The last federally funded residential school closed in 1996. The horrors that many children endured at residential schools did not go away. It took decades for people to speak out, but with the support of the Assembly of First Nations and Inuit organizations, former residential school students took the federal government and the churches to court.
Their cases led to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the largest class-action settlement in Canadian history. In 2008, Prime Minister Harper formally apologized to former native residential school students for the atrocities they suffered and the role the government played in setting up the school system. The agreement included the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has worked to document the experience. More than five years after the TRC Report was released, there have been reports of unmarked graves of children being discovered at the site of former residential schools. This updated edition includes some of those findings and examines what has and what still has to be done in regards to the TRC Report’s Calls to Action.
MELANIE FLORENCE is a writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She is also the author of The Missing and Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows of the first Inuk to play in the NHL, named an Honor Book by the American Indian Library Association. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.
"Visually, it’s a wonderful book, organized by topic and time with pictures and blurbs, and it feels almost like a scrapbook, or a new travelling museum exhibit. Written by Melanie Florence, who is of Plains Cree and Scottish descent, this book does not allow the residential schools to be the first or the final word on Indigenous culture and life. It takes us into the vibrant life and culture before the schools, the horror and grief during, and it takes us to the other side."
"As one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action states, 'Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples' historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandetory education requirement for kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.' (p. 7) this book certainly contributes to this action and should be added to every junior and senior high school and public library in Canada. Highly Recommended." Rated E - Excellent, enduring, everyone should see it!
"A great book...there's a lot there for us all."
"If I were purchasing materials for a high school library, I would buy at least 2 copies, and I would urge Social Studies and Aboriginal Studies classroom teachers to have at least one copy on their bookselves. Perhaps the strongest work to date in the Righting Canada's Wrongs series, Residential Schools underscores the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work... Highly Recommended."
"This resource-rich book is sure to spark both class and individual exploration. An index, glossary, and timeline will help teens navigate the rich content in this book, while links to online video and audio clips and the 'For Further Reading' section will guide them beyond its pages. Teachers will also find lesson plans and other helpful tools in an accompanying series Resource Guide."
"A wonderful series [Righting Canada's Wrongs] of beautiful books."
Recommended by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett for the #GiftingReconciliation Campaign