September 30th is the Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a time to honour the victims and Survivors of residential schools. This is a time for us as a community to commemorate the residential school experience and to act upon our roles in disrupting the ongoing impact of colonialism and anti-Indigenous racism.
The CRRU has a mandate to work towards a universally accessible, publicly funded, inclusive early learning and child care system in Canada. This cannot be done without Indigenous voices defining what this means for Indigenous children, families and communities. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada calls on “the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.” (Call to Action #12)
This year, the CRRU is working on the next edition of the Early Childhood Education and Care in Canada report (to be released early in the new year) and in the process of revising the Indigenous early learning and child care section. We are grateful for the guidance from our Indigenous partners in shaping our understanding of the distinctions-based approach to Indigenous matters, as well as the presentation of data and information on the care and education of Inuit, First Nations, and Métis children.
As researchers, we believe that it is our duty to critically examine systemic barriers that prevent Inuit, First Nations, and Métis children in accessing the education and care that are anchored in Indigenous knowledge, languages and culture. As an organization, the CRRU has the responsibility to resist and challenge practices and discourses that fail to acknowledge the Inuit, First Nations, and Métis perspectives and interests in academia and policy.
Reconciliation requires more than a national holiday. To accompany you on this day of reflection and in this ongoing reflective process, we have put together a list of resources about the residential school experience and what it means for early childhood education and care policy. This list is not intended to be comprehensive and we encourage you to investigate further.
Please be advised that the content below may include discussions of child abuse, family separation, systemic oppression and cultural genocide.
Early learning frameworks
The Indigenous early learning and child care framework (2018) supports distinct First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation frameworks that represent each community’s vision, goals and priorities.
- First Nations Early Learning and Child Care Framework
- Inuit Early Learning and Child Care Framework
- Métis Nation Early Learning and Child Care Framework
Here is a list of provinces and territories which have made specific mentions of the Calls to Action put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada in their early learning curriculum frameworks. This list allows us to presently reflect on the steps taken forward, challenges, and missing pieces of action upon early childhood education and care policy in Canada. As seen here, this list is small and remains static since September 2021, which illustrates an immense need for Indigenous communities to be centred in our work to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.
SK: Inspiring success: First Nations and Métis preK-12 education policy framework
Government of Saskatchewan, June 2018
BC: British Columbia early learning framework
Government of British Columbia, 30 April 2019
NT: A framework for early childhood development in the Northwest Territories: Action plan
Government of Northwest Territories, 7 February 2014
Research, policy and practice
Remembering the Children
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, September 2022
This publication by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation offers a way to begin conversions with students on the truth about residential schools across Canada. This educational package includes the experiences of Indigenous children in residential schools and anecdotes of students today in honour of remembering the children lost, highlighting acts towards true reconciliation.
A painful legacy: A critical discourse analysis of Canadian government discussions on residential schools
Malmö University, Faculty of Culture and Society (KS), 19 June 2022
This paper explores the role of residential schools in the erasure of Indigenous languages and the shift in the Canadian government’s discourse regarding the residential school system. The early period of the residential schools saw them championed as a solution to the "Indian problem," discourse which perceived Indigenous people as inferior. The schools were positively regarded in this period as the intention was to eradicate Indigenous languages and completely assimilate the Indigenous population. Once schools began to close in the 1970s, the interference of the state in the individual management of language was discontinued and Indigenous languages were no longer actively sought to be displaced by English and French. The author highlights that although efforts to promote Indigenous languages and acknowledge the painful legacy of the residential school system may indicate support for the preservation and recuperation of Indigenous language and culture, the delay in policy development until 2019's Indigenous Languages Act suggests that while colonial language beliefs which devalued Indigenous languages have disappeared from the forefront, they may yet remain deep-rooted in Canadian society.
Righting Canada’s wrongs: Residential schools (2nd ed.)
James Lorimer & Company Ltd., 8 February 2022
This book by Melanie Florence, a Toronto-based writer of Cree and Scottish heritage, offers an account of injustice and racism in the residential school system through historical photographs, documents and the Survivors’ narratives. The second edition of the book includes the findings of unmarked graves at residential schools and examines the work still to be done to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report.
Anti-Indigenous policy formation: Settler colonialism and neoliberal political advocacy
Canadian Review of Psychology, 24 October 2021
Using a data set of 407 texts covering a range of 21 years (1998-2019), this group of researchers conducted a content analysis on the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), a well-known ‘taxpayer’ group that has long engaged in hostile analysis of First Nations. The authors describe the various themes that the CTF writes about in relation to Indigenous peoples, discuss the temporal changes in how the CTF discusses policy, and offer theoretical analysis that demonstrates how neoliberal political advocacy groups have looked to weaken and attack the position of Indigenous nations in relation to settler colonial Canada.
“The more you know”: Critical historical knowledge about Indian residential schools increases Non-Indigenous Canadians' empathy for Indigenous Peoples
Political Psychology, 25 September 2021
This study investigates whether more critical historical knowledge about a harmed population increases empathy for them among others, explores the extent to which a past harm continues to cause suffering today and analyzes the repercussions for intergroup relationships. Internal meta-analyses indicates that participants with higher levels of critical historical knowledge felt more empathy for the outgroup because they could better see how past harms continue to cause suffering today. Authors discuss implications for social and political psychological theory and designing education for reconciliation interventions in Canada and elsewhere.
CA: Events in Ottawa and across Canada to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation
The Globe and Mail, 30 September 2022
The Globe and Mail compiled a list of events honouring National Day for Truth and Reconciliation across Canada.
Indigenous Legacy Gathering
Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre, 30 September 2022, 7:00–20:00 EDT
Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre is holding an Indigenous Legacy Gathering to honour residential school survivors and all the children taken from their families and communities. The gathering will allow the public to have an opportunity to learn, reflect and engage in the diversity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, traditions and language through workshops, presentations, stories, teachings, dance, film and music.
U of T's Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation Commemoration
University of Toronto, 30 September 2022, 10:00 EDT
University of Toronto will commemorate Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with a keynote address: “The Nikis Story is the Story of Canada: Reflecting on the Impacts of the Indian Residential Schools” led by the professor at U of T’s Centre for Indigenous Studies, Dr. Brenda Wastasecoot. This event was recorded live.
Voices to be heard - Truth and Reconciliation with Bevann Fox
Ottawa Public Library, 30 September 2022, 10:00–11:00 EDT
The Ottawa Public Library is inviting everyone to join them with Bevann Fox—a residential school survivor and author—as she speaks about the impact of residential schools and introduces her book, Genocidal Love. Fox will be addressing the healing process that continues today and her insights on Truth and Reconciliation. This event was recorded live
Key Indigenous organizations
National Association of Friendship Centres