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The Devastating Impact of Residential Schools: Listen, Reflect, Learn and Share

June 27, 2021

Resources for Parents and Kids

Canada’s shameful treatment of Indigenous people exists today alongside many of our accomplishments. At BridgeWay we think it’s time to turn up the volume on actions toward truth and reconciliation. We encourage you to mark Canada Day however you wish and we hope you will take time to listen, reflect, learn and share with others. These conversations are difficult and, in our experience, often produce long-lasting change. This week we will be sharing resources to help our clients and followers listen, reflect, and learn about residential schools and the Indigenous experience through Indigenous voices. We hope you will share what you learn.

Trigger Warning: violence and abuse

National Residential Schools Crisis line: 1-866-925-4419

Listen: Books videos and resources for children and adults to help us know what happened

Why should we listen? The more we listen the more we know about what happened. We can be more confident as we teach our children. This starts the ripple effect.  

Take a step back and listen to the Indigenous peoples who have put their voices out into the world to share their stories with us.  Books, podcasts, films, songs and articles are available at any time – for children and adults! Gain a variety of perspectives from Indigenous peoples of different ages, experiences, cultures and more. Here’s a list of resources by Indigenous creators to get you started. When you find more, please share them with us on social media or via [email protected].

About Residential Schools

Books for Children and Families About Residential Schools

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence:

For Adults to Learn More About Residential Schools

Trigger Warning: violence, abuse, sexual assault, suicide

Stolen Children – Residential School Survivors Speak Out:
  • 48 books by Indigenous writers to read to understand residential schools
  • Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese: is the sixth novel by Ojibwe author Richard Wagamese. Set in Northern Ontario in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it follows protagonist Saul Indian Horse as he uses his extraordinary talent for ice hockey to try and escape his traumatic residential school experience
  • Speaking Our Truth – A Journey of Reconciliation: In an interview, Monique Gray Smith discusses the importance of speaking the truth about the devastating impact of residential schools on Indigenous culture and identity. Her book, Speaking Our Truth, shares the stories of survivors, their families, and allies. Smith emphasizes that the truth, no matter how difficult, must be spoken in order for there to be reconciliation and healing for generations to come. 

Reflect: Questions to help us understand

We reflect in order to learn something. It can be very challenging because it involves revealing our anxiety, ignorance, errors and weaknesses. Reflecting helps us determine what we will do differently in the future.

Reflection can look different to everyone. When introducing and talking to children about Indigenous history and cultures, help them reflect by asking questions. Try asking yourself these questions too. 

  • What did you hear? What did you see?  (to ask kids)
  • Was this information new to you? 
  • Where can I find more information? 
  • How can I explain Indigenous history in a way that’s developmentally appropriate for my child?
  • What do the pictures in the books represent? How can I find out more? (when reading a book with children)
  • Am I doing my part? Is there more I could do? 

Learn: Resources to help us deepen our knowledge and think about what should happen next

Start to look into those questions you’ve asked yourself. Can you find these answers online? Are there more perspectives you could find? 

Dig deeper into Indigenous history and culture – find out more about the animals on the Anishinaabe totem pole (from Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel) and why they are represented. Read more about the racism and oppression Indigenous peoples still experience today and how that’s impacted their culture and identity. Find ways (big or small) that you can start to make meaningful change. 

Remember – it’s okay not to have all the answers. Be open to learning, applying what you’ve learned and then helping others to learn too.

Here are some resources to get your started:

“After decades of mothers, daughters, grandmothers, aunties, and cousins calling for an end to violence against Indigenous women, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was established in 2016. The mandate of the National Inquiry is to report on the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls, including sexual violence. This includes issues like sexual assault, child abuse, domestic violence, bullying and harassment, suicide, and self-harm.”

(The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, 2018)

Share: Resources on how to be an ally and talk to our kids and to others

We hope you explore this content and share what you’ve learned with others. That’s how change is going to happen. When you’re sharing with your kids, be intentional. You know your child best – some of this material is distressing, choose the content that is manageable for your child.

Talking to Kids About Residential Schools

In this video author Monique Gray Smith discusses how to talk with children about residential schools, the importance of educating ourselves and sharing that education with our children. She talks about how these conversations will create meaningful change for the future and provides books and resources in this video as well: 

How to be an ally to Indigenous People in Canada

What does it mean to be an ally? How can we be allies? Isabel DeRoy-Olson asks Larissa Crawford and Cindy Blackstock all about what it means to them to be an ally to Indigenous peoples: 

We will continue to add to this page as we find more resources. Please share any you find with us on social media or via [email protected].

National Residential Schools Crisis line: 1-866-925-4419