Orange Shirt Day at Gledhill is Monday, September 30th.
Looking for ways to continue the conversation at home? There are many wonderful books available for children of all ages that can deepen understanding of the impact of Residential Schools and promote reconciliation. The following books reflect on the residential school experience and/or reconciliation in different ways; many are available through the Toronto Public Library or through major booksellers. (Note: This list is compiled from various sources.)
The Orange Shirt Story, by Phyllis Webstad
When Phyllis Webstad turned six, she went to the residential school for the first time. On her first day at school, she wore a shiny orange shirt that her Granny had bought for her, but when she got to the school, it was taken away and never returned. This is the true story of Phyllis and her orange shirt. It is also the story of Orange Shirt Day, an important day of remembrance for all Canadians.
Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola Campbell
Shi-shi-etko is a young girl who has four days before she leaves home for residential school. Her family has many teachings to share with her, about her culture and the land.
Shin-chi’s Canoe, by Nicola Campbell
This award-winning book tells the story of six-year-old Shin-chi as he heads to residential school for the first time with his older sister. It is the sequel to Campbell’s Shi-shi-etko.
Arctic Stories, by Michael Kusugak
This trio of stories about a 10-year-old girl named Agatha is based on the childhood experiences of beloved Inuit author Michael Kusugak. The book begins with a tale of Agatha ‘saving’ her community from a monstrous flying object.
Kookum’s Red Shoes, by Peter Eyvindson
An elderly Kookum (grandmother) recounts her experiences at residential school – a time that changed her forever. The book has been described as running parallel to the story of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. “Her tornado had arrived. It rushed up and slammed to a halt just past the wonder world she had created,” writes Eyvindson.
When We Were Alone, by David Roberston
Winner of the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s illustration, this heartwarming story of a grandmother explaining residential schools will bring you all the feels. It’s so beautiful and so gentle, and therein lies its transformative power. Julie Flett continues to dazzle with her highly original illustrations.
47,000 Beads, by Koja Adeyoha and Angel Adeyoha
Peyton loves to dance, and especially at pow wow, but her Auntie notices that she’s been dancing less and less. When Peyton shares that she just can’t be comfortable wearing a dress anymore, Auntie Eyota asks some friends for help to get Peyton what she needs.
I Am Not A Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer
This remarkable story of Dupuis’ grandmother and her family’s journey with residential schools deserves every accolade it’s received since being published. Dupuis is an advocate for community stories and it shows in her vivid book, a volume that has made it into classrooms and homes across the continent, sparking conversation and building reconciliation through story.
Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Margaret, an 8-year-old Inuvialuit girl, wants to learn how to read so badly that she’s willing to leave home for residential school to make it happen. When she gets there a mean-spirited nun known as the Raven is intent on making Margaret’s time at school difficult. But Margaret refuses to be defeated.
No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, by Sylvia Olsen This collection of fictional stories of five children sent to residential school is based on real life experiences recounted by members of the Tsartlip First Nation in B.C.
As long as the Rivers Flow, by Larry Loyie
Cree author Larry Loyie writes about his last summer with his family before going to residential school, in Northern Alberta in 1944. Lawrence learns things like how to care for a baby owl, and how to gather medicinal plants with his Kokom. Loyie’s story highlights how his education at home was disrupted by the residential school system.