Tag Archives: residential schools

The Eyes of Children

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Eyes of Children — life at a residential school                                                           Christmastime at a residential school in British Columbia in 1962.

The search parameters that lead me to this film were “Marshall McLuhan First Nations,” and McLuhan just happened to be on the same page as this unrelated video. I was looking for some ideas about the interaction between wellness at school, technology and First Nations. Instead I found a half hour documentary in the CBC archives that sent shivers up my spine. I have started thinking about how so much mainstream media on FN people exists and what a project it would be to “answer” it all, to shine a new (old?) light on it. Here is a media project that could go on for a long time – confronting media images like Nanook or this film with new FN-generated media. Not directly related to my topic of wellness, but perhaps this an indirect way of healing?

Try watching the opening shots of the documentary which depict the priest greeting the students, then follow it up immediately with this fact sheet on the Kamloops Indian Residential School where the film was shot . . .




Module 2 | Post 4 History of residential schools ignored in Canadian curriculum

This is a story that is playing on the CBC radio 1 in The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti as I write this blog post.  Great interview with Charlene Bearhead, an education coordinator with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that talks about this opportunity to add this discussion to the Canadian curriculum and the value of doing so for students and for the future of Canada.  If there is a transformational change in the curriculum and in our awareness of the history of residential schools and first nation reality, then this report, the process that created the report and the stories that were painfully shared, then this is a commodity that can be leveraged to change the importance, relevance and priority of this history and its inclusion in our education and dialogue as we move forward in our negotiations and discussions.



Module 2- Post 1-The Importance of Education in the Wake of The Truth and Reconciliation Report

In an interview with CBC right before the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Report, Murray Sinclair spoke to Peter Mansbridge about the importance of education.

He stated that it was not an aboriginal problem but a Canadian problem. The same messages we were giving aboriginal students at residential school, the stereotypes of being ‘heathens’ ‘savages’ or ‘inferior’ was the same message we were giving in the public schools.

In his interview he stated, “ We need to look at how we are educating children. We need to change that message in the public schools and aboriginal schools as well to ensure that every child educated in Canada receives full and proper history of each indigenous group and the territories in which they live so that they will grow up learning how to speak to and about each other in a more respectful way.”

CBC News. June 1, 2015, retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/truth-and-reconciliation-chair-urges-canada-to-adopt-un-declaration-on-indigenous-peoples-1.3096225

Other related articles

Truth and reconciliation: Looking back on a landmark week for Canada. CBC News, June 6, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/truth-and-reconciliation-looking-back-on-a-landmark-week-for-canada-1.3102956

Legacy of residential schools hits Twitter with #MyReconciliationIncludes, CBC News, June 2, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/1.3097504

Some residential Survivors still waiting to tell their stories, CBC News, June 6, 2015. Retrieved from  http://www.cbc.ca/1.3102772

Module #1:Post 1- Educational Practices

In my educational experiences, I spent a number of years working overseas at a Canadian International School. As we taught students about Canada, they would learn about First Nations Communities through activities such as reading North American Aboriginal myths, and creating beautiful art inspired by their cultural background. For students who had never been to Canada, this was essentially staged authenticity. There wasn’t enough understanding of the history of Indigenous students and the abuse they endured at residential schools where the goal was to strip away their cultural beliefs and values.

There has been a lot of educational literature and resources produced for mainstream classrooms with a romanticized perspective of Indigenous communities. As we become more cognizant of the importance of creating classroom communities that recognize and acknowledge different perspectives, as educators we can develop learning engagements that focus on primary sources and more authentic literature.

An example of this are a number of children’s books written recently by Christy Jordan- Fenton & Margaret Pokiak- Fenton and give a first hand account of Margaret’s experiences of going to a residential school, far from her Arctic home. Over 60 years later, she is finally able to tell her story about the abuse she had to endure and the difficulties she had readapting when she went home. These stories could be used in conjunction in learning about children’s rights and the importance of finding ways to use your voice to stand up for your beliefs.


Hare, J. (2011). Learning from Indigenous knowledge in education. In D. Long and O. P. Dickenson(Eds.), Visions of the heart, 3rd Edition (pp. 91-112). Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.

Jordan- Fenton, Christy & Pokiak- Fenton,Margaret. (2013).When I was Eight. Toronto, Ontario: Annick Press.

Jordan- Fenton, Christy & Pokiak- Fenton,Margaret. (2014). Not My Girl. Toronto, Ontario: Annick Press.

Jordan- Fenton, Christy & Pokiak- Fenton,Margaret. (2010). Fatty Legs. Toronto, Ontario: Annick Press.

Module 1 Post 5: Digital Stories – Residential Schools

Information regarding storytelling and the legacy of residential schooling were two topics that had a profound effect on me when reading the articles in Module 1. Storytelling is an important aspect of Aboriginal peoples’ culture as these oral traditions allow them to share their knowledge, histories, and lessons.

Sadly, residential schools have had a profound and detrimental effect on First Nations’ peoples, families, communities, and culture. I wanted to see if I could find a website in which Aboriginal people used digital media as a vessel to tell their stories and share their experiences in regards to residential schools and came across this project:

Digital Stories – First Nations Women Explore the Legacy of Residential Schools

The aim of the project is to promote awareness and bring about a better understanding of the lasting effects of residential schools from generation to generation. The website contains numerous digital stories, lasting between 2-5 minutes each, in which Aboriginal women narrate their experiences and offer insight to the disruptive impacts of residential schools. The purpose of these digital stories is not only to facilitate the healing process, but also to inform the public about how Aboriginal peoples were affected.

Residential schools are not only a part of First Nations’ history, but also a part of every Canadian’s history; therefore, it is imperative that these stories be heard.

Here’s another great site for more information on residential schools and residential school survivor stories.


Module 1 Post 2 – Residential Schools & The TRC

In a previous post my classmate Erin provided a link to a TVO special about residential schools, but described it as being somewhat dated.  Since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been in the news recently, as it is ‘officially’ coming to and end soon, I wanted to look more into it – I hate to say it, but I’m pretty ignorant on the topic.

The official website for the TRC is here, and is flooded at the moment with information about the closing events and the TRC overall.
Link: Interim report from 2012
Primary Sources Link:  Online videos of statements made as part of the TRC

In my searching I also found this article from the Ottawa Citizen, quoting the head of the TRC Murray Sinclair (an Anishinaabe judge and lawyer), as saying that Canadians need to know that the history of the residential schools and its traumas “include them”.  Powerful stuff!

Module 1.4 – Residential Schools

I wanted to get a little more background on the experience of living in a residential school from the voice of those who lived it, so I went to YouTube in attempt to find a video.  I ended up watching this TV Ontario Special which examined the past and present (although at this point the video is already fairly dated) of aboriginal schooling.