Personal acts of reconciliation
10 actions you can take to learn more about reconciliation
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 Truth and Reconciliation Commission's 94 Calls to Action 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
- Residential School/Project of the Heart | Strong Nations
- Residential Schools reading list | Indigo
- 108 Indigenous writers to check out | CBC Books
- 15 memoirs by Indigenous writers you need to read | CBC Books
- #IndigenousReads | Government of Canada
- Indigenous Stories reading list | Indigo
To read with your kids
- 10 books about residential schools to read with your kids | CBC Indigenous
- 17 beautiful Indigenous comic books and video games for kids | CBC Parents
- 11 books to teach kids about residential schools | Today's Parent
Start an #IndigenousReads book club in your community or choose an Indigenous author for your next meeting.
Support an Indigenous non-profit
- Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth | Calgary
- Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary | Calgary
- Siksika Children's Services | Calgary
Support emerging artists
Our communities are rich with Indigenous artists 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.
- Indigenous innovators | Exhibitionists, CBC Arts
- 10 Indigenous artists forging community ties
- Indigenous artists use craft to change perspectives | CBC Unreserved
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, Ont.
- 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 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, Ont.
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
- Residential Schools. We haven't even begun to talk about what happened | Canadaland, 2015
- Retracing my mother's escape from residential school | CBC Radio, 2017
- The Henceforward: Considers relationships between Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples on Turtle Island.
- Native Currents: A critical review of what's happening in Indian Country.
- New Fire: From remote reserves to bustling big cities, Lisa Charleyboy brings you to the surprising heart of the conversations important to Indigenous youth today.
- A Tribe Called Geek: Indigenerdity for the Geeks at the Powwow.
- Media Indigena: A weekly Indigenous current affairs roundtable, hosted by Rick Harp.
- Missing & Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams
- Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo: It's a mystery her family has been trying to unravel for decades after the young Cree girl was apprehended by child welfare workers in Saskatchewan in the 1970s.
- 60 Years of Indigenous Music Game Changers | CBC Music
- Reclaimed: A weekly series that explores the many worlds of contemporary Indigenous music | CBC Music
- Indigenous Voices Spotify playlist | CBC Saskatchewan
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 Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada lifestyle magazine provides stories from authentic Indigenous tourism companies stretching across Canada from coast to coast to coast.
"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 recommendations, 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.
Learn an Indigenous language
Language is more than what we use to communicate. It is our identity. It is our ancestry. It is our legacy. Explore the many diverse Indigenous languages that exist across the country with CBC Indigenous' Original Voices.
Be an ally
- Listen. Ask questions.
- Write the prime minister and your government representatives to implement the TRC's 94 Calls to Action
- Talk to an Elder in the community
- Join a local reconciliation committee in your community
- 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.