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Teaching Toolkit: Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2022

National Day For Truth and Reconciliation/ Journée nationale de la vérité et de la réconciliation

Sep 28, 2022

September 30 is National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This day was acknowledged by the government of Canada, and coincides with Orange Shirt Day, to honour the victims and survivors of residential schools. The Ottawa Public Library presents this guide, and last year's, to anyone looking for child and teen resources on the subject. Please review the material to discern if it is age-appropriate for your youth before sharing with them.

For Children

An explanatory video is one way of teaching about reconciliation and residential schools. Everyone can get a visual of how many residential schools there were with a map showing each one across Canada, and each province individually. Here’s a timeline for older kids.

Books and guides can be a great support, too. See an interview with David A. Robertson about his picture book, When We Were Alone, along with a reading and a guide. Or watch Jodie Callaghan (and an ASL interpreter) read her book The Train—full pages and illustrations included. Grades 5 & 6 can engage with I Am Not a Number by Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis through this reading of the book, a lesson plan, and some additional ideas that include links to audios, reflections and more. Grades 4 - 7 can learn through Fatty Legs by Margaret-Olemaun Pokiak-Fenton & Christy Jordan-Fenton. Apart from a reading and excerpt of the first chapter, children can learn through a lesson plan and a podcast between the authors.

The First Nations Child & Family Caring Society has created a picture book series with Spirit Bear, a “Bearrister” who guides children through many aspects of indigenous social justice in Canada. Two of the books are available for free in e-book form—and come with timelines. This book even comes with a learning guide and further resources. Both books take place in the unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation in Ottawa. See also this infographic, their activity sheet with kid-friendly calls to action, educator resources and more.

For Teens

Find a thorough definition of Truth and Reconciliation here. Hear about the impacts of generational trauma on today’s youth, from today’s youth, including an Anishinaabe and Cree voice from Ontario. This documentary is free to be screened for high school students. If your teens have read or watched the movie for Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese, they will benefit from this study guide. The Legacy of Hope Foundation offers a webpage dedicated to the impacts of residential schools; it features a timeline, video interviews with survivors, and further resources. Looking for more videos? Find lots on the second half of this page.

It's best for everyone to get familiar with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 calls to action as soon as possible. Grades 7-10 can learn about residential schools through the features of this page and accompanying user guide and unit plan. The Aboriginal Healing Foundation offers many helpful tools. Plus see infographics for teens, a Twitter learning series, and many more resources from the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society.

For Both

September 30 continues to be Orange Shirt Day too; the organization offers teaching resources for all grades. See research guides, subject guides and curriculum resources on Truth and Reconciliation for all ages. Find many more helpful tools, by age group, here.


Join Bevann Fox on Zoom for a virtual presentation: Voices to Be Heard: Truth and Reconciliation (10:00 am - 11 am) as she talks about the impact of residential schools and her book Genocidal Love. Bevann Fox will also address the healing process as it continues today and her thoughts regarding truth and reconciliation. 

Meet Jay Odjick during his presentation of Residential Schools: A Lasting Impact at St Laurent branch (10:30 am - 11:30 am) and at Ruth E. Dickinson branch (2 pm - 3 pm). Jay Odjick, creator of the first Indigenous superhero television series, will speak about his community's experience and the way it informed his career.

Dive into the exhibition: Youth on Reconciliation - Imagine a Canada by Legacy of Hope Foundation at Ruth E. Dickinson branch. This exhibition, which will be held at Ruth E. Dickinson from September 30 to October 15, explores the concept of Reconciliation through artistic expression and what that means to youth in Canada.

Every Child Matters.