Residential School/Project of Heart

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To deepen and support your understanding of what the Indian Residential School experience was and its impact on Canada please download this document, They Came For the Children:

Click here: They Came For the Children

Project of Heart” is an inquiry based, hands-on, collaborative, inter-generational, artistic journey of seeking truth about the history of Aboriginal people in Canada. Its purpose is to:

Examine the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada and to seek the truth about that history, leading to the acknowledgement of the extent of loss to former students, their families and communities

Commemorate the lives of the thousands of Indigenous children who died as a result of the residential school experience.

Call Canadians to action, through social justice endeavors, to change our present and future history collectively

Click here to visit the website: Project Of Heart


7 Generations Book 1: Stone
Format: Paperback

Stone introduces Edwin, a young man who must discover his family's past if he is to have any future. Edwin learns of his ancestor Stone, a young Plains Cree man, who came of age in the early 19th century. Following a vision quest, Stone aspires to be like his older brother, Bear, a member of the Warrior Society. But when Bear is tragically killed during a Blackfoot raid, Stone, the best shot and rider in his encampment, must overcome his grief and avenge his brother's death. Only then can he begin a new life with his bride, Nahoway. It is Stone's story that drives Edwin to embark on his own quest.

Stone is the first book in the graphic novel series, 7 Generations. Forthcoming books in this series are:
Book 2: Scars, the story of the orphan White Cloud, set against the smallpox epidemic of 1870-1871.
Book 3: Ends/Begins, the story of Edwin's father, and the residential school saga.
Book 4: The Pact, a story of redemption, as father and his son reconcile their past and begin a new journey.

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7 Generations Book 2: Scars
Format: Paperback

The year is 1870, and the last great smallpox epidemic is sweeping the prairies. After witnessing the death of his entire family, White Cloud, a young Plains Cree boy, summons the strength to deliver himself from the terrible disease and journey to a new home. Readers also reconnect with Edwin, a lost young man on his own quest who must summon his own courage and travel to confront the main source of his own despair. Scars is Book 2 in the graphic-novel series 7 Generations, which follows the story of one Aboriginal family from the early 19th century to the present day.

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7 Generations Book 3: Ends/Begins
Format: Paperback

In 1964, two brothers are taken from the warm and loving care of their grandparents, and spirited away to a residential school, miles from home. James, assigned to manual work on the grounds, sees less and less of his younger brother, Thomas. James soon discovers the anguish that Thomas is living under, which leads to unspeakable tragedy. The pain and guilt that dogs James continues to affect his troubled son, Edwin (introduced in book 1). But a new understanding is dawning between them... Ends/Begins is book 3 in the graphic novel series 7 Generations. Other books in this series: Book 1: Stone tells the story of a young Plains Cree man in the early 19th century, who fulfills his destiny as a warrior as he avenges his brother's death.

Book 2: Scars, the story of the orphan White Cloud, set against the smallpox epidemic of 1870-1871.
Book 4: The Pact (forthcoming), a story of redemption, as James and his son, Edwin, reconcile their past and begin a new journey.

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7 Generations Book 4: The Pact
Format: Paperback

As the pain and loss of James's residential school experiences follow him into adulthood, his life spirals out of control. Haunted by guilt, he is unable to maintain a relationship with Lauren and their son Edwin. Edwin, mired in his own pain, tries to navigate past the desolation of his fatherless childhood. As James tries to heal himself he begins to realize that, somehow, he may save his son's life – as well as his own. When father and son finally meet, can they heal their shattered relationship, and themselves, or will it be too late?

The Pact is the final book in the 7 Generations series. Other books in the series include:

Book 1: Stone introduces Edwin, who learns of his ancestor Stone, a young Plains Cree man.

Book 2: Scars, the story of the orphan White Cloud, set against the smallpox epidemic of 1870-1871.

Book 3: Ends/Begins, the story of Edwin’s father, and the residential school saga.

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7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga
Artists:
Scott B. Henderson
Format: Paperback

The 7 Generations series is available in one book, and the illustrations are in vivid colour. 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga includes the four graphic novels: Stone, Scars, Ends/Begins, and The Pact.

Edwin is facing an uncertain future. Only by learning about his family's past—as warriors, survivors of a smallpox epidemic, casualties of a residential school—will he be able to face the present and embrace the future.

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A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

“It can start with a knock on the door one morning. It is the local Indian agent, or the parish priest, or, perhaps, a Mounted Police officer… The officials have arrived and the children must go.”

So began the school experience of many Indigenous children in Canada for more than a hundred years, and so begins the history of residential schools prepared by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Between 2008 and 2015, the TRC provided opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to share their experiences of residential schools and released several reports based on 7,000 Survivor statements and 5 million documents from government, churches, and schools, as well as a solid grounding in secondary sources.

A Knock on the Door, published in collaboration with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), gathers material from the TRC reports to present the essential history and legacy of residential schools and inform the journey to reconciliation that Canadians are now embarked upon. An afterword introduces the holdings and opportunities of the NCTR, home to the archive of recordings and documents collected by the TRC.

Survivor and former National Chief of the Assembly First Nations, Phil Fontaine, provides a Foreword, and an Afterword introduces the holdings and opportunities of the National Centre for Truth & Reconciliation, home to the archive of recordings, and documents collected by the TRC.

As Aimée Craft writes in the Afterword, knowing the historical backdrop of residential schooling and its legacy is essential to the work of reconciliation. In the past, agents of the Canadian state knocked on the doors of Indigenous families to take the children to school. Now, the Survivors have shared their truths and knocked back. It is time for Canadians to open the door to mutual understanding, respect, and reconciliation.

Reviews
“The attempt to transform us failed. The true legacy of the survivors, then, will be the transformation of Canada.” – Phil Fontaine, from the Foreword

A Knock on the Door is a book that I hope every Canadian will read, and read deeply. The transformation of this country begins with acknowledging what happened after that knock on the door. Acknowledging, understanding the implications, and then resolving to do something for positive change. It’s right that the TRC Calls to Action are included, for we are all called to action.” – Shelagh Rogers, O.C., TRC Honorary Witness

"Seven volumes from a nationwide inquiry into the legacy of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools have been condensed into a compelling book that is both accessible and well-documented. The central conclusion—that the schools were part of a deliberate cultural genocide policy aimed at the continent’s first peoples, spearheaded by the Canadian government with the support of mainline churches —is clearly supported by historical references, gut-wrenching personal stories, and a thorough analysis of a system that forcibly removed indigenous children from their families.” – Publishers Weekly 

Educator Information
This book is recommended for grade 11 and 12 students for courses in social studies and social justice (also useful for college/university students in courses of a similar nature).  This book is also a useful teacher resource.

Caution: physical and sexual abuse is discussed in this book.

Additional Information
Edited and Abridged | 296 pages | 5.50" x 8.50" | 11 b&w photographs | maps | bibliography

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As Long as the Rivers Flow: A Novel
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;

From the accomplished memoirist and former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario comes a first novel of incredible heart and spirit for every Canadian.

The novel follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is "stolen" from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. She doesn't speak English but is punished for speaking her native language; most terrifying and bewildering, she is also "fed" to the school's attendant priest with an attraction to little girls.

Ten long years later, Martha finds her way home again, barely able to speak her native tongue. The memories of abuse at the residential school are so strong that she tries to drown her feelings in drink, and when she gives birth to her beloved son, Spider, he is taken away by Children's Aid to Toronto. In time, she has a baby girl, Raven, whom she decides to leave in the care of her mother while she braves the bewildering strangeness of the big city to find her son and bring him home.

Awards

  • 2013 Burt Award - Third Place Winner
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Back to the Red Road
Format: Paperback

In June 1967, Norway House Indian Residential School of Manitoba closed its doors after a somewhat questionable past. In 1954, when Florence Kaefer was just nineteen, she accepted a job as a teacher at Norway House. Unaware of the difficult conditions the students were enduring, Florence and her fellow teachers nurtured a school full of lonely and homesick young children. After a few years, Florence moved to Vancouver Island with her new husband where she continued to teach, thinking often of the children of Norway House.

Many years later, after the death of her husband, Florence unexpectedly reconnected with one of her Norway House students, Edward Gamblin. Edward had been only five when he was brought to Norway House and Florence remembered him as a shy and polite young boy. Leaving the school at sixteen, Edward faced some challenges in a world that was both hostile and unfamiliar to him. But Edward found success and solace in his career as a musician, writing songs about the many political issues facing Aboriginal people in Canada. On a trip to Manitoba, Florence discovered Edward's music. She was captivated by his voice, but shocked to hear him singing about the abuse he and the other children had been subjected to at Norway House.

Motivated to apologize on behalf of the school and her colleagues, Florence contacted Edward. "Yes, I remember you and I accept your apology," Edward told her. "Reconciliation will not be one grand, finite act. It will be a multitude of small acts and gestures played out between individuals." The story of their personal reconciliation is both heartfelt and heartbreaking as Edward begins to share his painful truths with his family, Florence and the media. Three years after Edward's death in in 2010, Florence has continued to advocate for truth and reconciliation. BACK TO THE RED ROAD is more than one man's story: it is the story of our nation and how healing can begin, one friendship, one apology at a time.

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Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous American; Native American;

Boarding School Seasons offers a revealing look at the strong emotional history of Indian boarding school experiences in the first half of the twentieth century. At the heart of this book are the hundreds of letters written by parents, children, and school officials at Haskell Institute in Kansas and the Flandreau School in South Dakota. These revealing letters show how profoundly entire families were affected by their experiences.
Children, who often attended schools at great distances from their communities, suffered from homesickness, and their parents from loneliness. Parents worried continually about the emotional and physical health and the academic progress of their children. Families clashed repeatedly with school officials over rampant illnesses and deplorable living conditions and devised strategies to circumvent severely limiting visitation rules. Family intimacy was threatened by the school's suppression of traditional languages and Native cultural practices.

Although boarding schools were a threat to family life, profound changes occurred in the boarding school experiences as families turned to these institutions for relief during the Depression, when poverty and the loss of traditional seasonal economics proved a greater threat. Boarding School Seasons provides a multifaceted look at the aspirations and struggles of real people.

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Born With a Tooth
Authors:
Joseph Boyden
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;

Almost a decade after its original publication, award winner and Governor General Literary Award nominee Joseph Boyden's classic book of short stories is finally being reissued. Born With A Tooth, Boyden's debut work of fiction, is a collection of thirteen beautifully written stories about aboriginal life in Ontario. They are stories of love, unexpected triumph, and a passionate belief in dreams. They are also stories of anger and longing, of struggling to adapt, of searching but remaining unfulfilled. The collection includes 'Bearwalker', a story that introduces a character who appears again in Boyden's novel Three Day Road. By taking on a new voice in each story, Joseph Boyden explores aboriginal stereotypes and traditions in a most unexpected way. Whether told by a woman trying to forget her past or by a drunken man trying to preserve his culture, each story paints an unforgettable and varied image of modern aboriginal culture in Ontario. An extraordinary first book, Born With A Tooth reveals why Joseph Boyden is a writer worth reading.

Educator Information
Recommended Grades: 10-11

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Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: A Memoir
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Sagkeeng;

Theodore Fontaine lost his family and freedom just after his seventh birthday, when his parents were forced to leave him at an Indian residential school by order of the Roman Catholic Church and the Government of Canada. Twelve years later, he left school frozen at the emotional age of seven. He was confused, angry and conflicted, on a path of self-destruction. At age 29, he emerged from this blackness. By age 32, he had graduated from the Civil Engineering Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and begun a journey of self-exploration and healing.

In this powerful and poignant memoir, Theodore examines the impact of his psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, the loss of his language and culture, and, most important, the loss of his family and community. He goes beyond details of the abuses of Native children to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of First Nations children suffer from this dark chapter in history.

Told as remembrances described with insights that have evolved through his healing, his story resonates with his resolve to help himself and other residential school survivors and to share his enduring belief that one can pick up the shattered pieces and use them for good.

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Burning in this Midnight Dream
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);

Burning in the Midnight Dream is the latest collection of poems by Louise Bernice Halfe. Many were written in response to the grim tide of emotions, memories, dreams and nightmares that arose in her as the Truth and Reconciliation process unfolded.

In heart-wrenching detail, Halfe recalls the damage done to her parents, her family, herself. With fearlessly wrought verse, Halfe describes how the experience of the residential schools continues to haunt those who survive, and how the effects pass like a virus from one generation to the next. She asks us to consider the damage done to children taken from their families, to families mourning their children; damage done to entire communities and to ancient cultures.

Halfe's poetic voice soars in this incredibly moving collection as she digs deep to discover the root of her pain. Her images, created from the natural world, reveal the spiritual strength of her culture.

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Calling Down the Sky
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; Métis; Inuit; First Nations;

Calling Down the Sky is a poetry collection that describes deep personal experiences and post generational effects of the Canadian Aboriginal Residential School confinements in the 1950's when thousands of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were placed in these schools against their parents' wishes. Many were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. The author portrays how the ongoing impact of the residential schools problem has been felt throughout generations and has contributed to social problems that continue to exist today.

Reviews
“Rosanna Deerchild’s poems roll off the tongue as easy as old country songs. With her deft hand, Deerchild finely tunes every word and weaves them together as intimately as she braids her girls’ hair. Together, these poems create a story that sings with beautiful tension, amazing resilience, and love as big as the sky." - Katherena Vermette, Metis Writer

"The poetry collection, called calling down the sky, describes personal experiences with the residential school system in the 1950s and the generational effects it had." - CBC 

"This poetry collection is fierce, raw and candid. It is also visceral, intricate and, above all, illuminating. By recounting her mother’s residential school experience in a powerfully poetic narrative, Deerchild expertly illustrates the heartbreaking trauma of that tragic saga and how it complicates relationships over generations. By beautifully and elaborately exploring those relationships and that devastating history, she finds and celebrates the resilient and hopeful spirit that many residential school survivors, like her mother, have managed to retain in the face of horror and torment. As a result, calling down the sky is an essential read in understanding the true modern history of this land and in honouring the people who survived it.” - Waubgeshig Rice

Additional Information
96 pages | 5.50" x 8.50"

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Celia's Song
Format: Paperback

Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nu:Chahlnuth territory. Celia is a seer who - despite being convinced she's a little "off" - must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews. While mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The old snake, ostracized from the village decades earlier, has left his terrible influence on Amos, a residential school survivor. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin's granddaughter. Each one of Celia's family becomes involved in creating a greater solution than merely attending to her cousin's granddaughter. Celia's Song relates one Nu:Chahlnuth family's harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.

Educator Information
Grade 11/12 English First Peoples resource for the unit Further Steps toward Reconciliation.

Additional Information
280 pages | 5.50" x 8.50"

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Doug Knockwood, Mi'kmaw Elder: Stories, Memories, Reflections
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Mi'kmaq;

Freeman Douglas Knockwood is a highly respected Elder in Mi’kmaw Territory and one of Canada’s premier addictions recovery counsellors. The story of his life is one of unimaginable colonial trauma, recovery and hope.

At age 6, Knockwood was placed in the Shubenacadie Residential School, where he remained for a year and a half. Like hundreds of other Mi’kmaw and Maliseet children, he suffered horrible abuse. By the time he reached his twenties, he was an alcoholic. He contracted tuberculosis in the 1940s, had one lung and several ribs removed.

Having hit rock bottom, Knockwood, gained sobriety in his thirties through Alcoholics Anonymous. He went on to become a much sought after drug and alcohol rehabilitation counsellor in Canada. Many of Doug’s initiatives have been implemented across Canada and used by thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Looking back now, says Doug, “I realize I wasn’t only helping them. They were helping me to gather strength in my presentations, in feeding them the knowledge I received, the same as it was fed to me. That helped me to gain confidence in myself; doing all these things that I didn’t know I could yet do”.

This book is an in-depth look at Doug Knockwood’s life that also casts a wide and critical glance at the forces that worked to undermine his existence and the indomitable spirit of a man who recovered from, yet still struggles to overcome, those forces.

Educator Information
The 2018-2019 Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools list recommends this resource for Grades 10-12 for these subjects: English Language Arts, Social Justice, Social Studies.

Additional Information
128 pages | 6.00" x 9.00" | Written by Doug Knockwood and Friends

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