Beyond Orange Shirt Day
Like many Canadians, I’m horrified and saddened by stories that continue to come out about the mistreatment, past and present day, of Indigenous people in this country. So I’m pleased to know that starting tomorrow, we will be honouring the lost children and survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities with a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which coincides with Orange Shirt Day.
Wearing an orange shirt on September 30 is a way of saying you understand and care about the stripping away of culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. But clearly we need to go beyond wearing an orange shirt. We need to learn all we can about the history and culture of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people. There are many great books to help us do that.
Included in the CBC’s recent list of books by Indigenous authors are links to interviews with those authors. Two books by Richard Wagamese, about whom I have blogged previously, are on the list.
The CBC list also includes a good number of children’s books, including two that explain how an orange shirt came to symbolize the harm done to Indigenous children by the residential school system.
IBBY Canada has an even more comprehensive, downloadable catalogue of Indigenous picture books.
On October 5, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre will launch a related resource, created by Ojibway librarian and educator, Linda Lou Classens, to help teachers and parents select and share books from the collection with the children in their classes and families.
Of course there are non-book resources available that raise awareness of Indigenous history and culture too. My sister drew my attention to a free online course that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada from an Indigenous perspective. It’s a 12-week course and I was so thrilled to see that you can learn at your own pace that I registered right away.
I hope National Truth and Reconciliation Day reminds us all to continue learning (Truth) so we’re better positioned to take steps toward Reconciliation.
Do you have any resources — books or otherwise — to recommend?
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Kathy Stinson is the author of the classic Red Is Best and the award-winning The Man with the Violin. Her wide range of titles includes picture books, non-fiction, young adult fiction, historical fiction, horror, biography, series books, and short stories. She has met with her readers in every province and territory of Canada, in the United States, Britain, Liberia, and Korea. She lives in a small town in Ontario.