Like all organizations and groups, the Mississippi Mills Public Library can do more than it’s been doing to meet the Calls to Action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. All organizations and levels of government must take up these serious calls for love, justice, truth and reconciliation more energetically.
Last year, the library published ten lists to promote diversity in reading at every age. Many books on these lists are indigenous-authored titles, like the four pictured and described here:
I am Not a Number is a picture book based on the residential school experience of Irene Couch Dupuis, grandmother to the author, Jenny Kay Dupuis. The Dupuis family is part of the Nipissing First Nation.
Many teachers use Phyllis Webstad’s two published children’s books, The Orange Shirt Story and Phyllis’s Orange Shirt, to introduce students to her experience as a six-year-old girl going to residential school.
Stolen Words, by Melanie Florence, is one man’s emotional tale of strength, hope, and healing, shedding light on the continued repercussions of the horrific residential schools that separated indigenous children from their families and heritage in the name of cultural assimilation.
These are my words: the residential school diary of Violet Pesheens, by Ruby Slipperjack
Please explore these books and all other materials about these experiences. The library has many accounts told in adult voices, in non-fiction and fiction as well. Michelle Good’s debut novel, Five Little Indians, about five young children taken from their families and sent to a residential school just recently won the 2020 Governor General’s Award for Fiction (English).
We all need to know these stories in order that these histories aren’t repeated. MMPL is planning further efforts to meet the T&R commission’s calls.
Please remember: There have been hundreds of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls (MANY of these are children ages 13-17) and deaths of thousands more children at the dozens and dozens of other residential schools that were across Canada – as well as the latest, awful, confirmation of 215 children buried on the Kamloops Indian Residential School grounds.
As a country we’ve known these truths for a long time. All levels of government, all organizations and individuals, please read and act on the Calls from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (published in 2015 – sadly, still a document of unfulfilled ideas, yet very specific, would-be effective actions)
The Anishinabek Nation offers a free online resource that helps one understand about the Indian Residential School System, The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario.
This is a link to the indigenous material in the library’s catalogue (in-library and ebook/audiobook).
This is a link to material specifically about residential school experiences (in-library and ebook/audiobook).