Grade 10: First Steps – Exploring Residential Schools and Reconciliation through Children’s Literature

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Resources for Grade 10: First Steps – Exploring Residential Schools and Reconciliation through Children’s Literature.


Arctic Stories
Artists:
Vladyana Krykorka
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Inuit;

Acclaimed Inuit storyteller Michael Kusugak weaves a tapestry of tales about ten-year-old Agatha and her accidental heroism in the high Arctic of 1958. The first of Agatha''s stories is based on one of Kusugak''s real life experiences, when an eerie, black airship flew over Chesterfield Inlet in 1958. A sleepy Agatha "saves" the community from the monstrous flying object.

In the second story, Agatha notices the playful antics of the winter ravens and takes an interest in the many migrating birds. As the seasons change, she begins to favor more beautiful and peaceful birds of spring, until the ravens return.

The third of Agatha''s stories takes place in the fall when Agatha is sent to school in Chesterfield Inlet, an English-speaking community south of her home. During an afternoon of skating, Agatha rescues a show-off priest, who has inadvertently demonstrated the danger of thin ice.

The three Agatha stories resonate with the nostalgia and affection of Kusugak''s childhood memories.

Reviews
"This collection of three tales, set in Repulse Bay, features an endearing 10-year-old heroine, named Agatha, through whose eyes the reader experiences life in the high Arctic.... The author weaves a tapestry of simply told stories, each of which, by skilful use of detail, manages to bring to life the experience of growing up in a small Inuit community.... Vladyana Krykorka's paintings give the reader a beautifully detailed rendition of the Arctic landscape in every season. Her depictions of Kusugak's human and animal characters are wonderfully satisfying, full of life and humour.... [They] complement the text brilliantly.... The beauty of Kusugak's work lies in his ability to evoke for his southern readers a vivid picture of a way of life that is fast disappearing. Arctic Tales will be a welcome addition to the resources that teachers and librarians look for as they plan their units on the Arctic and the Inuit. The book's Grade-three reading level should guarantee its popularity among young students doing projects on Inuit life. Recommended."— Valerie Nielsen, Canadian Materials, October 1999

 
"Vivid and engaging... This collection of stories captures a feeling for a transitional time in the Inuit culture and history and resonates with the storyteller's art" — Canadian Teacher, June 2013
 
Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 5-9.
 
This illustrated children's story is a grades 10/11 English First Peoples Resource for the unit First Steps - Exploring Residential Schools and Reconciliation through Children's Literature.
 
Additional Information
40 pages | 8.25" x 10.50"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$7.95

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Secret Path
Authors:
Jeff Lemire
Gord Downie
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

Secret Path is a ten song album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long-suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.

The next hundred years are going to be painful as we come to know Chanie Wenjack and thousands like him—as we find out about ourselves, about all of us—but only when we do can we truly call ourselves, “Canada.”

Proceeds from Secret Path will be donated to The Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation via The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at The University of Manitoba.

Educator Information
Recommended resource for English First Peoples grades 10-11 for units on Childhood through the Eyes of Indigenous Writers and First Steps - Exploring Residential School and Reconciliation through Children's Literature.

Note: This resource is not considered an authentic First Peoples resource.

Additional Information
96 pages | 12.00" x 12.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
$26.99

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Shi-shi-etko
Artists:
Kim LaFave
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.

She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.

Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system.

This gentle story of a child on the verge of great loss was selected as the Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year.

Awards

  • Winner of the Anskohk Aboriginal Children's Book of the Year Award. 

Educator Information
Recommended Grades: 2-10.

Recommended Authentic First Peoples resource K-9.

This illustrated children's story is recommended for English First Peoples Grades 10 for units pertaining to childhood through Indigenous writers' eyes and the exploration of residential schools and reconciliation through children's literature.

Additional Information
32 pages | 8.50" x 8.13" 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$18.95

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Shin-chi's Canoe
Artists:
Kim LaFave
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

This moving sequel to the award-winning Shi-shi-etko tells the story of two children's experience at residential school. Shi-shi-etko is about to return for her second year, but this time her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, is going, too. As they begin their journey in the back of a cattle truck, Shi-shi-etko takes it upon herself to tell her little brother all the things he must remember: the trees, the mountains, the rivers and the tug of the salmon when he and his dad pull in the fishing nets. Shin-chi knows he won't see his family again until the sockeye salmon return in the summertime.

When they arrive at school, Shi-shi-etko gives him a tiny cedar canoe, a gift from their father. The children's time is filled with going to mass, school for half the day, and work the other half. The girls cook, clean and sew, while the boys work in the fields, in the woodshop and at the forge. Shin-chi is forever hungry and lonely, but, finally, the salmon swim up the river and the children return home for a joyful family reunion.

Educator Information
Recommended Grades: 2-10.

Recommended Authentic First Peoples K-9 resource.

This illustrated children's story is recommended for English First Peoples Grades 10 for units pertaining to childhood through Indigenous writers' eyes and the exploration of residential schools and reconciliation through children's literature.

Additional Information
40 pages | 8.50" x 8.13"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$18.95

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Wenjack
Authors:
Joseph Boyden
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;

The acclaimed author of The Orenda gives us a powerful and poignant look into the last moments of Charlie Wenjack, a residential school runaway trying to find his way home.

An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School. Too late, he realizes just how far away home is. Along the way he's followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.

Educator Information
Recommended English First Peoples Resource for Grades 10-11.

Joseph Boyden's works are not necessarily considered authentic First Peoples resources.  Review the English First Peoples Grades 10-12 FNESC publication for more information and resources, or search online for information on this author.

Additional Information
112 pages | 4.50" x 6.30"

Authentic Canadian Content
$12.00

Quantity:
When I Was Eight
Artists:
Gabrielle Grimard
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Inuit;

Nothing will stop a strong-minded young Inuit girl from learning how to read.

Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. She must travel to the outsiders' school to learn, ignoring her father's warning of what will happen there.

The nuns at the school take her Inuit name and call her Margaret. They cut off her long hair and force her to do chores. She has only one thing left -- a book about a girl named Alice, who falls down a rabbit hole.

Margaret's tenacious character draws the attention of a black-cloaked nun who tries to break her spirit at every turn. But she is more determined than ever to read.

By the end, Margaret knows that, like Alice, she has traveled to a faraway land and stood against a tyrant, proving herself to be brave and clever.

Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eight makes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to young children. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.

Reviews
"A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit In this picture-book memoir, an Inuit recollects how she begged her father to attend the church-run Indian residential school so she could fulfill her cherished dream to learn to read... What she discovers is the school is draconian... Olemaun describes how a nun cuts her braid, changes her name, and assigns an endless list of chores... Even as she labors, Olemaun finds strength in memories of her father's love and uses every opportunity to study the alphabet and sound out words. Effective shadow-ridden illustrations capture the pervasive atmosphere of abuse, but the final picture speaks volumes about Olemaun's determination and triumph: her face appears as large and shining as the sun emerging from darkness, because she has taught herself to read... A searing account of assimilation policies and a celebration of the human spirit." — Jeanne McDermott, Booklist, April 2013

"Pokiak-Fenton's true story of her experiences at residential school, was originally told in Fatty Legs.... When I Was Eight is an even more powerful read due to its emphasis on concise, affective text coupled with Gabrielle Grimard's quietly unpretentious artwork." — Canlit for Little Canadians

"When I Was Eight is a powerful story based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton... It is a story of a young Inuit girl who goes to a residential school and suffers terrible abuse from the nuns at the school... Through all these trials, she perseveres in trying to learn to read. One day in class she is finally able to stand up to the teacher and show her own strength by reading aloud. It is a moment of victory! Although this story may be intended for younger students who are studying the Inuit, it could also be used in upper grades when discussing social justice issues. The story ties in with anti-bullying themes as well... Highly recommended." — Lori Austin, Resource Links, Vol. 18, No. 5, May 2013

"This excellent picture book, written as a companion to the longer version of it called Fatty Legs, is a powerful way to introduce the residential school experience to younger readers." — Sally Bender, Sal's Fiction Addiction, February 2014

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 6-9.

Authentic First Peoples Resource K-9.

Grades 10-11 English First Peoples resource for the unit First Steps - Exploring Residential School and Reconciliation through Children's Literature.

Additional Information
32 pages | 9.00" x 9.00" | Colour illustrations throughout.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$9.95

Quantity:
When We Were Alone
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Cree;

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.

Reviews
"When We Were Alone is rare. It is exquisite and stunning, for the power conveyed by the words Robertson wrote, and for the illustrations that Flett created. I highly recommend it." — Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature.

"…Robertson handles a delicate task here admirably well: explaining residential schools, that shameful legacy, and making them understandable to small children. It’s a dark history, and the author doesn’t disguise that, but he wisely focuses the grandmother’s tale on how, season by season, the students use creativity, imagination, and patience to retain their sense of identity. A beautifully quiet, bold strength arises from the continued refrain “When we were alone” and in how the children insisted on being themselves. Flett’s gorgeous, skillful illustrations have a flattened, faux naïve feel to them, like construction paper collage, a style that works perfectly with the story. She nicely contrasts the school’s dull browns and grays with the riotous colors surrounding Nókom and gets much expression from her simple silhouettes. Spare, poetic, and moving, this Cree heritage story makes a powerful impression." — Kirkus Reviews

"When We Were Alone addresses the topic of residential schools and, just as importantly, aspects of Cree culture and language. There is such gentleness about When We Were Alone that makes it an appropriate book for the even youngest of readers. Simply put, this is a much-needed book. Highly Recommended." — Dr. Kristen Ferguson, CM Magazine

"Robertson's text moves between the present and the past, the girl's questions and Nókom's memories, which deepen and intensify the quiet, powerful way she lives out her own culture, day by day, in the present. A beautifully rendered story of resisitance and love, this is made all the more luminous by Flett's art - not just by flashes of fuschsia or scarlet among ochre grasses, but by her precisely observed images of the compact bodies of the uniformed children, bowed beneath the weight of the scissors, or lovingly tending each other's hair. Highly recommended." — Deirdre Baker, Toronto Star

Educator Information
Recommended Grades: 3 and under.

Grades 10-11 BC English First Peoples resource for the unit First Steps - Exploring Residential School and Reconciliation through Children's Literature.

Additional Information
24 pages | 8.50" x 7.50" | colour illustrations 

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$19.95

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