Between 1867 and 2000, the Canadian government sent over 150,000 Aboriginal children to residential schools across the country. Government officials and missionaries agreed that in order to "civilize and Christianize" Aboriginal children, it was necessary to separate them from their parents and their home communities. For children, life in these schools was lonely and alien. Discipline was harsh, and daily life was highly regimented. Aboriginal languages and cultures were denigrated and suppressed. Education and technical training too often gave way to the drudgery of doing the chores necessary to make the schools self-sustaining. Child neglect was institutionalized, and the lack of supervision created situations where students were prey to sexual and physical abusers. Legal action by the schools' former students led to the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in 2008. The product of over six years of research, the Commission's final report outlines the history and legacy of the schools, and charts a pathway towards reconciliation.
A Knock on the Door, published in collaboration with the National Research Centre for Truth & Reconciliation, gathers material from the several reports the TRC has produced to present the essential history and legacy of residential schools in a concise and accessible package that includes new materials to help inform and contextualize the journey to reconciliation that Canadians are now embarked upon.
Call Number: E 96.2 .N49 2019 House of Learning Stacks
Picking Up the Piecestells the story of the making of the Witness Blanket, a living work of art conceived and created by Indigenous artist Carey Newman. It includes hundreds of items collected from residential schools across Canada, everything from bricks, photos and letters to hockey skates, dolls and braids. Every object tells a story. Carey takes the reader on a journey from the initial idea behind the Witness Blanket to the challenges in making it work to its completion. The story is told through the objects and the Survivors who donated them to the project. At every step in this important journey for children and adults alike, Carey is a guide, sharing his process and motivation behind the art. It's a personal project. Carey's father is a residential school Survivor. Like the Blanket itself, Picking Up the Piecescalls on readers of all ages to bear witness to the residential school experience, a tragic piece of Canada's history.
Call Number: PS 8576 .A576 2019 House of Learning and Williams Lake
This critical edition delivers a unique and comprehensive collection of the works of Ktunaxa-Secwepemc writer and educator Vera Manuel, daughter of prominent Indigenous leaders Marceline Paul and George Manuel. A vibrant force in the burgeoning Indigenous theatre scene, Vera was at the forefront of residential school writing and did groundbreaking work as a dramatherapist and healer. Long before mainstream Canada understood and discussed the impact and devastating legacy of Canada's Indian residential schools, Vera Manuel wrote about it as part of her personal and community healing.
In 1949, Antoine Mountain was born on the land near Radelie Koe (Fort Good Hope) in the Northwest Territories just south of the Arctic Circle. At the tender age of seven, he was stolen away from his home and sent to a residential school--run by the Roman Catholic Church in collusion with the Government of Canada--three hundred kilometres away. Over the next twelve years, the three residential schools Mountain was forced to attend systematically worked to erase his language and culture, the very roots of his identity. While reconnecting to that which had been taken from him, he had a disturbing and painful revelation of the bitter depths of colonialism and its legacy of cultural genocide. Canada has its own holocaust, Mountain argues. As a celebrated artist and social activist today, Mountain shares this moving, personal story of healing and the reclamation of his Dene identity.
Call Number: E 99 .S45 P37 2019 House of Learning and Williams Lake
Andy and Phyllis Chelsea met during their years spent at the St. Josephs Mission School in Williams Lake, BC. Like the thousands of others forced into the church-run residential school system, Andy and Phyllis are no strangers to the ongoing difficulties experienced by most Indigenous peoples in Canada. The couple married in 1964 but brought the trauma of their mission school years into their marriage. The Chelseas struggle with alcohol came to an abrupt halt in 1971 when their daughter, Ivy, then aged seven, stated that she and her brothers did not want to live with their parents because of the drinking, that they would stay with their Grandmother, their Kye7e. Andy and Phyllis chose sobriety to preserve their family. This decision sparked a lifetime of activism for the couple, which included overcoming the challenges caused by Canadas disregard for their community.
Call Number: E 96.5 .R46 2015 DVD & Guide (Audio-visual)
Residential schools: truth and reconciliation in Canada (secondary version) (17:30) -- Justice Murray Sinclair: survivors speak out (9:05) -- Marie Wilson: healing decades - old wounds (7:07) --Paul Martin: power play (6:20) -- -- The 60s scoop (6:55).
Discusses the issues of Canadian residential schools for Aboriginals, of Aboriginal children in government care, and of off-reserve adoption. This documentary includes both archival footage and interviews with Aboriginals.
Call Number: E 96.6 .S154 S44 2013 House of Learning Library & Williams Lake (Reserves)
In this frank and poignant memoir of her years at St. Joseph's Mission, Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school's lasting effects on her and her family-from substance abuse to suicide attempts-and eloquently articulates her own path to healing. Number One comes at a time of recognition-by governments and society at large-that only through knowing the truth about these past injustices can we begin to redress them."
Call Number: E 96.6 .S73 G53 2002 House of Learning Library, Williams Lake & E-book
For over 100 years, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate operated St. Mary's Mission, a residential school near Mission, BC. Now the stories of its former students are told for the first time. In Amongst God's Own, acclaimed writer Terry Glavin has woven the accounts of 35 native elders into a bold, uncompromising narrative of life at St. Mary's.
Behind Closed Doors features written testimonials from thirty-two individuals who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The school was one of many infamous residential schools that operated from 1893 to 1979. The storytellers remember and share with us their stolen time at the school; many stories are told through courageous tears.
Theodore (Ted) Fontaine lost his family and freedom just after his seventh birthday, when his parents were forced to leave him at an Indian residential school by order of the Roman Catholic Church and the Government of Canada. Twelve years later, he left school frozen at the emotional age of seven. Told as remembrances described with insights that have evolved through his healing, his story resonates with his resolve to help himself and other residential school survivors and to share his enduring belief that one can pick up the shattered pieces and use them for good.
When residential schools opened in the 1830s, First Nations envisioned their own teachers, ministers, and interpreters. Instead, students were regularly forced to renounce their cultures and languages and some were subjected to degradations and abuses that left severe emotional scars for generations. In Finding My Talk, fourteen aboriginal women who attended residential schools, or were affected by them, reflect on their experiences.
"In What We Learned, two generations of Tsimshian students--elders born in the 1930s and 1940s and middle-aged adults born in the 1950s and 1960s--add their recollections of attending day schools in northwestern British Columbia to the contemporary discussions of Indigenous schooling in Canada."
One of the first books published to deal with the phenomenon of residential schools in Canada, Resistance and Renewal is a disturbing collection of Native perspectives on the Kamloops Indian Residential School(KIRS) in the British Columbia interior.
Call Number: E 96.5 .M55 1996 E-book, House of Learning Library & Williams Lake Library
With the growing strength of minority voices in recent decades has come much impassioned discussion of residential schools, the institutions where attendance by Native children was compulsory as recently as the 1960s. Former students have come forward in increasing numbers to describe the psychological and physical abuse they suffered in these schools, and many view the system as an experiment in cultural genocide.
"Power through Testimony documents how survivors are remembering and reframing our understanding of residential schools in the wake of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which includes the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a forum for survivors, families, and communities to share their memories and stories with the Canadian public."