Residential Schools/First Peoples Resources

Online Guides

There are online Guides for studying Residential Schools.  They are available for Grades 5,10,11 and 12 here.

Explora

A great resource for research is Explora, that has over 9,000 articles on Residential Schools. You can also access Explora via the direct link on our www.hcslearningcommons.org site.

In our Overdrive library, we have added several titles:

A Stranger at Home

A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton

Traveling to be reunited with her family in the arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It’s been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers.

Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, “Not my girl.” Margaret realizes she is now marked as an outsider. And Margaret is an outsider: she has forgotten the language and stories of her people, and she can’t even stomach the food her mother prepares. However, Margaret gradually relearns her language and her family’s way of living. Along the way, she discovers how important it is to remain true to the ways of her people — and to herself.

Highlighted by archival photos and striking artwork, this first-person account of a young girl’s struggle to find her place will inspire young readers to ask what it means to belong.

Fatty Legs

Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton (Grades 4-7)

Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools.

At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school.

In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.

Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton’s collection and striking artworks from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl’s determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.

My Name is Seepeetza

My Name is Seepeetza by Shirley Sterling (Grades 4-8)

At six years old, Seepeetza is taken from her happy family life on Joyaska Ranch to live as a boarder at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Life at the school is not easy, but Seepeetza still manages to find some bright spots. Always, thoughts of home make her school life bearable. An honest, inside look at life in an Indian residential school in the 1950s, and how one indomitable young spirit survived it.

Secret of the Dance by Andrea Spalding and guide (Grades K-3)

In 1935, a nine-year-old boy’s family held a forbidden Potlatch in faraway Kingcome Inlet. Watl’kina slipped from his bed to bear witness. In the Big House masked figures danced by firelight to the beat of the drum. And there, he saw a figure he knew. Aboriginal elder Alfred Scow and award-winning author Andrea Spalding collaborate to tell the story, to tell the secret of the dance.

Sugar Falls

Sugar Falls by David Alexander Robinson (Grades 9-12)

BASED ON A TRUE STORY (Graphic Novel)

A school assignment to interview a residential school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls — words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive. Sugar Falls is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty’s generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.

There are videos available in Discovery Education and Learn 360:

Living History – Cruel Lessons – Discovery Education (Grade 9-12)

Four First Nations seniors recall the torture and abuse they endured while living at residential school. Both having their families and identities taken away from them, they were repeatedly told they were second class citizens.

Nisga’a: Dancing in Both Worlds – Discovery Education (Grade 6-12)

Covers the history of the Nisga’a First Nation from the colonial era to present day. The program details the British colonial government’s suppression of Aboriginal rights and the Nisga’a leaders’ fight for land claims to the Nass River Valley. The Nisga’a government, economy, and schools are also examined in the program.

John Farcy – Learn 360 (Grades 6-12)

John was in an accident at three years old and spent several years in the hospital before going to a residential school where he first began thinking about becoming an artist. He is inspired by the colors of nature and activities of everyday life.

April Mercredi’s Background – Learn 360 (Grades 6-12)

April was born to a Chinese father and a Cree-French mother in Calgary, Alberta. After a troubled childhood, she was sent to a residential school where art was not encouraged.

Abraham Anghik Ruben’s Early Years – Learn 360 (Grades 6-12)

Abraham has taken what he feels is the essence of his ancestors and uses it as a vehicle for artistic expression. He talks about being taken away from his tribe and being forced into a residential school.

Ethel Blondin Andrew – Learn 360 (Grades 3-12)

The first Native woman elected to the parliament of Canada. Ethel tells us about living on the land with her parents and grandparents, to attending a residential school where her language and culture were taken away. Feels her advantage in life is that she “has no fear”.

(Reviews by Overdrive, Discovery Education and Learn 360)

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