Excerpted from introduction
Between 1879 and 1996, the Government of Canada took First Nations, Métis, and Inuit kids away from their families and homes and put them in residential schools. At residential school, kids were not allowed to speak their language or celebrate their culture and were often treated badly by the adults in charge of the schools. Many of the children who went to residential schools became sick and died because the schools were poorly built and didn’t get enough money from the Government of Canada to keep the kids healthy. The kids who survived residential school returned home with a great sadness and hurt that has been passed on to current generations.
In 2008, a group called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was made. Their job was to listen to stories about residential schools and then write the stories down so we can learn from our mistakes. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission announced their 94 Calls to Action. These are 94 activities all governments, courts, businesses, schools, and people living in Canada can do to help fix the mistakes of the past and present so that all children – including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children – can grow up happy, healthy, safe, and proud of who they are.
This booklet is written by Spirit Bear as a youth-guide to the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action. Spirit Bear was born
in a huckleberry patch in the Carrier Sekani Territory in British Columbia but he spends most of his time
on the lands of the Algonquin people in a city called Ottawa. Ottawa is also where the Government of
Canada lives. Governments makes laws and provide the services that everyone needs, like clean water,
education, and health-care.
Spirit Bear is a Bearrister, which means when he sees something wrong, he has to learn about
it and try to help. Some problems seem big and hard to fix, but Spirit Bear’s mom – Mary the
Bear – says the first step in fixing a problem is believing you can.