6 What Can I Do Now?

Space building activities

For non-Indigenous folks self-location is a great exercise. Self-Location requires settler-descended folks on colonially possessed lands the opportunity to examine the histories that brought them to that place. Which ancestor first came to Canada and when, how they came to have the privileges and lifestyles that they have today, which treaty territory they were born in and what that relationship means. Hopefully what this exercise will have people realize is their current lifestyle would be impossible without the continued oppression of Indigenous communities across Canada. Because for many of us living urban, westernized lifestyles, the sacrifices of Indigenous peoples and the land we occupy are often afterthoughts or non-thoughts; this exercise aims to change that way of thinking for this dialogue.

For many Indigenous cultures around Turtle Island, when introducing themselves they describe their community, family/clan, and their identity. Self-location can be a similar way of finding out who one’s self is, then using that information to understand the relationship and identity you have to the land you are on. Re-discovering those connections are vital pieces to empathizing and understanding the impacts of colonization in Canada.

Resources For Teaching Children About Residential Schools


  • Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
  • Shin-chi’s Canoe, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
  • Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
  • A Stranger at Home: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
  • No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, by Sylvia Olsen (Ages 9-12)
  • As long as the Rivers Flow, by Larry Loyie (Ages 9-12)
  • My Name is Seepeetza, by Shirley Sterling (Ages 9-12)
  • I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Dupuis (Grades 3 to 6)

Digital Resources

  • We Were So Far Away. The Inuit Experience of Residential Schools. Legacy of Hope Foundation. http://weweresofaraway.ca/   Interactive website  includes stories of survivors, a slideshow of images and a timeline, as well as links to other resources related to the Inuit experience.
  • 100 Years of Loss, Legacy of Hope Foundation. Includes history and interactive timeline about residential schools.  Also exists as an app.


Activities for high school students

  • Word bubble- words will be placed on large sheets of paper around the room and each student is given a marker. They must write something on every word bubble it can be either something they know about the word, want to know, or an example they can think of in their own community. (Colonization, Treaty, Assimilation, Rights, Reconciliation, Resilience, Resistance, Stereotype, Ownership, Land, etc.)
  • Our Stories Our Strength videos with a ‘burst sheet’ or accompanying questions:
    • How do residential schools have impacts beyond the school?
    • How do you think these impacts are felt and seen today?
    • Can learning about what happened in residential schools help people understand issues facing First Nations today?
    • How have these stories changed your perception of indigenous peoples?
  • Students may receive a unique hand out, or a Shingwauk student name. Then they have to prepare a short report on that student and what happened to them in residential school.
  • Looking at https://native-land.ca/ to find out which treaty territory they’re from, then researching that treaty online to find out what the terms were, and what their treaty obligations mean. Learning about unceded territories and resource extraction in relation to the reserve system.
  • DecolonizEd Timeline: Students are given events from Indigenous and Canadian history, they are asked to pin them on dates that have been placed on the walls. After the correct answers are taken up, there will be a question session. Depending on the group, the questions could be answered orally or written; what surprised you? How much has changed? How much has stayed the same? Where would you start in reconciliation? How can Canadians fix this past?

Activities for elementary students:

  • Looking at https://native-land.ca/ to find out which treaty territory they’re from
  • Project of Heart tiles, or response colouring sheets.
  • “What do you think that means, how does it feel?” like the word bubble activity but with a focus on disproving stereotypes and breaking down why we feel certain ways about those words.
  • Photograph timeline activity- a selection of photographs from the Shingwauk site that the students will have to re-order correctly.
  • Guess the date- an adapted timeline that has the facilitator read out the event, or legislation created and the students have to guess the date the event occurred. After the question and answer period, reflection questions can be asked as well; what surprised you? How does this make you feel? What impact do you think this has in indigenous communities?
    Example trivia question: The residential school system lasted from: a) 1900-1990 b)1867-1994 c) 1880-1965 d)1840-1996


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Healing and Reconciliation Through Education Copyright © 2019 by Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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