Personal acts of reconciliation

Here are a few actions we can each personally take to learn more about reconciliation and foster inclusive relationships with each other.

10 simple actions you can take to learn more about reconciliation

Artwork from one of Canada's best-known Indigenous artists, Alex Janvier, who started creating art while in residential school.

Personal acts of reconciliation

Taking the first step toward reconciliation seems difficult and possibly overwhelming at first. But sometimes, individuals all working together can make a huge impact. As history has shown, it's us everyday folks who propel our communities forward to achieve great progress – by doing simple, kind acts either personally or together.

As individuals, while we cannot take each of the TRC's 94 Calls and fix them on our own,  we can do our part to learn our history of residential schools, and listen, truly listen, to the stories being told by survivors, so we can begin to make small changes in our daily lives to become better allies and deepen our relationships with Indigenous Peoples.

Here are a few actions we can each personally take to learn more about reconciliation and foster inclusive relationships with each other.

Read books that reflect on the residential school experience

In their words. Reading stories straight from those who experienced residential schools can deepen your understanding of its devastating effects and tremendous impact on Indigenous communities. 

Books for adults

To read with your kids

Book clubs

Start an #IndigenousReads book club in your community or choose an Indigenous author for your next meeting.

Volunteer at an Indigenous non-profit

Support emerging artists and musicians

Our communities are rich with Indigenous artists and musicians who are creating work that is thoughtful, contemporary and current. Many of these artists are pushing boundaries and putting their history, and the history of their ancestors, front-and-centre, and in your face. The best art makes you feel, makes you think, and definitely challenges your biases and perspectives.

Artist features

Galleries and festivals

Watch films and documentaries

  • 'The Eyes of Children' — life at a residential school | CBC
    Christmastime at a residential school in British Columbia in 1962.
  • We were children | NFB
    In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government's residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years.
  • In Jesus' Name | Erasing Cultural Genocide
    A poignant all-Indigenous English and Cree-English collaborative documentary film that breaks long-held silences imposed upon indigenous children who were interned at the notoriously violent St. Anne's Residential School in Fort Albany First Nation, Ontario.
  • Sleeping Children Awake | Magic Arrow Productions
    Sleeping Children Awake is one of the earliest independent, feature length documentaries to broadcast on the Residential School System. It won several awards including "Best Canadian Documentary 1993."
  • Stolen Children: Residential School Survivors Tell Their Stories | CBC
    Stolen Children explores the impact of residential schools on former students and their children and grandchildren. Survivors share their harrowing experiences and discuss the legacy of fear, abuse and suicide being passed down from generation to generation.
  • Violation of Trust | The Fifth Estate
    A searing examination of Canada's 100 years of native residential schools, where Indigenous children had their culture and language beaten out of them, leaving a legacy of alcoholism, abuse and emotional scars.
  • The Secret Path | CBC Arts
    This powerful animated film tells the story of Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year-old Ojibwa boy who died of exposure in 1966 while running away from Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School near Kenora, Ontario.

Attend a cultural event

Create a family project around Indigenous history

  • Learn greetings in languages
  • Harvest traditional berries and medicines
  • Cook an Indigenous dish or learn about traditional foods (wild game, smoked fish etc.)
  • Play and learn traditional games

Exploring My Indigenous Culture Now That I'm A Mom | CBC Parents
Sharing The Message Of Truth And Reconciliation With Your Kids | CBC Parents

Listen to Indigenous podcasts, artists and music

Explore authentic Indigenous experiences

As Canadians, we like to move and explore this large land mass we live on. And when we travel, we tend to learn a bit about the history of a place and take in its culture. This Guide to Indigenous Tourism in Canada lists experiences that demonstrate how Indigenous communities welcome visitors to learn, share and celebrate together. 

"Indigenous tourism has the power to change perspectives, preserve culture, language and community and provide our relatives with a platform to be the leading voice in reclaiming our space in history — both ancient and modern." –Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada

In addition to ITAC's guide, Destination Canada created this list of 12 immersive Indigenous tourism experiences.

Learn the history of residential schools

There remains many Non-Indigenous Canadians who are unaware of residential schools and how recent they are in our history. Visit cbc.ca/beyond94 to hear stories from residential school survivors and what reconciliation means to them. 

Be an ally

  • Listen. Ask questions. 
  • Write the prime minister and your government representatives to implement the TRC's 94 calls
  • Talk to an Elder in the community
  • Join a local reconciliation committee in your community. (In Saskatchewan there is a Reconciliation Saskatchewan organization, and its open to everyone.)
  • Hold a reconciliation workshop in your community! Organizations such as Returning to Spirit offer workshops and training programs that help individuals and communities move forward from the legacy of Residential Schools.