Teaching Tools & Resources

The following is a compilation of resources and lesson plans to be integrated in middle years classrooms. Content surrounding Treaty Relationships, Residential Schools, and Reconciliation have a multiplicity of curricular connections over the span of diverse grade levels. Note: Not all resources are of quality, despite potentially being posted on ‘trusted’ and ‘reputable’ websites. I have chosen to post some websites that contain both quality resources AND oppressive resources; I did not want to overlook an entire resource based on aspects that are oppressive. When choosing to use the resources below, please view them through a critical, socially just and anti-oppressive lens – do not simply (ever!) implement resources without asking yourself, ‘is this resource of quality?’

Treaty Education outcome & Indicators:

SI (Spirit & Intent) 8.2: Assess the impact residential schools have on First Nations communities.

  • Compare stories of First Nations People who attended residential schools to the experiences students have had in their own schools.
  • Investigate how First Nations people were forced to learn languages and cultures other than their own.
  • Represent the effects of residential schools on First Nations’ languages and cultures.
  • Examine how First Nations and communities continue to deal with and heal from the abuses experienced by First Nation peoples in residential schools.
  • Assess the importance of the official apology offered by the Canadian government as recommended by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples for the tragic outcomes of the Residential School Era.


Treaty 4 Thoughts: A list of resources (literature) surrounding the topic of Residential Schools; resources vary from children’s literature to novels/memoirs. I created this document alongside a group of my peers for a course assignment where we looked at various ways to integrate Treaty Education into a middle years classroom. Note that you do not have to share an entire book in order for meaningful learning to occur – selecting powerful excerpts as reflective of age appropriateness can provide for strong learning in itself. Additionally, resources for personal development on behalf of educators are included in this document – learning is a life-long process, these resources are significantly influential in this process.

10 Books About Residential Schools For Young People: The top ten most commonly used books to teach about the Residential School System; this resource contains quality literature than can be effectively used in middle years classrooms.

– Additional Literature (Book List via Vancouver Public Library): Additional books that can be easily integrated into middle years classrooms when teaching about Residential Schools – these books are a great starting point for discussion, inquiry and critical thinking.

The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (With Teacher’s Guide): This book is an inspirational read for upper middle years students (some content is not appropriate for younger grades – use professional judgment regarding whether or not this resource is the ‘right-fit’ for your classroom). This book is a great resource for beginning discussions surrounding racism, identity, culture and relationships .

Resources & Websites:

STARS Regina Website: (Student Teacher Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppressive Society) – a University of Regina Education Student’s Union. A compilation of Treaty Education (and social justice) resources broken down into grade level and subject area. Resources vary in terms of format (i.e., videos, lesson plans, additional links, etc.). This resource is open to the public for editing and can be easily added to/navigate through.

Teaching Treaties: A WordPress blog consisting of resources and lesson plans surrounding Treaty Education, as well as providing background information about Treaties in Canada and diverging worldviews.

Apihtawikosisan: This resource will be beneficial to any learning experience regarding contemporary issues; this blog is written by a Plains Cree women who offers insight into issues facing Aboriginal Peoples day. Included in this resource are print and online resources, as well as extensive information on culture and language (beneficial for learners who are unpacking the concept of ‘loss of culture and identity’ via Residential Schools). (**CBC 8th Fire – great resource, can be found on this website).

– Where Are The Children? Healing The Legacy Of Residential Schools: This website includes classroom resources, as well as survivor stories and timelines of Residential Schools in Canada all in relation to the Where Are The Children exhibit: “The exhibition consists of 118 framed archival photographs, text panels, maps, original classroom textbooks and historical government papers selected from nine public and church archives, and depicts the history and legacy of Canada’s Residential School System. Where are the Children? spans over 130 years and contains photographs and documents from the 1880s to present day.” The exhibit is currently not available for visitation, but the website provides enough information to be a valuable learning tool for students.

– Speaking My Truth – Reflections On Reconciliation & Residential Schools: Three classroom resources can be found via this resource and can be downloaded for free in PDF format; resources are entitled: “We Were So Far Away: The Inuit Experience of Residential School”, “Hope and Healing Booklet”, and “We Were So Far Away: Curatorial Booklet”. All of these resources are available in diverse languages (English, French, Inuktitut, etc.).

“We were far away from home, very far away; emotionally, geographically and spiritually.”- Marius Tungilik

– Aboriginal Healing Foundation – Residential School Resources: “Helping Aboriginal People Heal Themselves”, a selection of resources for teaching about Residential Schools. All resources can be downloaded in PDF format – including all attachments and handouts. Beyond the online resources, students can use this website to gain insight into the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the support services offered by this foundation to Aboriginal People.

– CBC Article – ‘Former Residential School Teacher Opens Up About Reconciliation’: Video & article – “Florence Kaefer taught at Manitoba residential school in 1950s” speaks out about the process of reconciliation. Included in this resource is the 15 minute video ‘Finding Truth and Reconciliation’ – powerful content within the video as Residential School survivors speak out about their experiences as children (some content not appropriate for younger students).

– Office Of The Treaty Commissioner (OTC): The OTC website has copious amounts of information for educators to use in their own professional (and personal) development process, as well as in the classroom alongside students. There is a wikispace made available to educators, which includes lesson plans, assessment strategies and SMART board programs at all grade level. Additionally, this resource provides multiple videos to be shown in the classroom surrounding topics such as Saskatchewan Treaties, the Indian Act and Residential Schools.

– The Residential School System in Canada – Understanding the Past, Seeking Reconciliation, Building Hope for Tomorrow (Teacher’s Guide): This resource was developed by the Northwest Territories Education, Culture and Employment; as a result, this resource is not contextually relevant to Saskatchewan, but should NOT be overlooked for said reason. As an entire unit plan surrounding Residential Schools, educators can easily implement this resource in their classroom from start to finish – the learning experiences within this document are of quality, are diverse and approach the content via multiple perspectives.

– Truth & Reconciliation Commission Of Canada:The Truth & Reconciliation Commission website is a strong starting point when discussing reconciliation. Providing educators with copious amounts of information, this resource can open the door for opportunities regarding gestures of reconciliation – students can navigate through this website to gain insight into what ‘reconciliation’ truly entails.

– An Eternal Impression – Residential Schools Resource Package:This is a phenomenal resource created by faculty of Education student Curtis Bourassa. His blog offers insight into the history of Residential Schools and the process of healing and reconciliation. Included in this resource are additional ways in which teachers can integrate this knowledge into a middle years classroom (books, websites, lesson plans, and videos).


– We Were Children: Can be found via the National Film Board or Canadian Netflix; this documentary honours two survivors, Lyna and Glen, as they share their heart-wrenching narratives as children in Residential Schools. “We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.” (There is explicit content in this video, including open discussion of sexual abuse; as a result, this video is not appropriate to be shown in some classrooms).

-100 Years of Loss DVD Videos – ‘The Power of An Apology’, ‘Our Stories, Our Strength’, & ‘Where Are The Children? Healing The Legacy of The Residential Schools”: These three videos can be obtained as part of the 100 Years of Loss teacher’s guide; each of the videos offers insight into the Residential School experience, Government of Canada apology and efforts of healing and reconciliation. The videos are long in length, but can be shown in segments – selecting parts that are appropriate and most beneficial for students.

 Additional KEY Resources:

– Legacy Of Hope Foundation – 100 Years Of Loss Resources: Educators can order the resource kit to use in the classroom, which includes a five-piece wall-hanging timeline of Residential Schools in Canada, an Educator Resource (book with research, lesson plans and extension activities), and DVD (Where Are The Children?, Survivor Stories, Apology From PM Stephen Harper). This is a phenomenal resource – I used it throughout my entire three-week block unit; a majority of the lesson plans are geared to higher grades, but contain quality information and can be easily adapted for any grade.

– Mackenzie Art Gallery – Moving Forward, Never Forgetting (Resource Guide & Field Trip): Artists express their perspectives surrounding contemporary issues currently faced by Aboriginal peoples. The educator’s resource guide provides lesson plans to implement before and after viewing the exhibit, as well as discussion questions to ask throughout the entire experience for further unpacking. Some content within this exhibit is overtly discomforting, keep this in mind when planning for student viewing (need to ensure students are prepared with adequate background knowledge, as well as providing an opportunity for unpacking and reflecting afterwards).

 Witness Blanket Specific Resources:

– Witness Blanket – A National Monument To Recognize The Atrocities Of Indian Residential Schools: This resource is the official website for the Witness Blanket Exhibit. On the home page, you will find a video created to briefly show individuals the purpose behind creating the Witness Blanket. I was able to show my students this video before visiting the exhibit, which I found to be extremely helpful as it prepared them without over-educating (students were still ‘surprised’ throughout the tour). Additionally, one can find further information about the artist and the exhibit on the website – a great resource to supplement community-based learning experiences alongside the Witness Blanket exhibit.

– CBC Article – ‘The Witness Blanket Art Installation At The University Of Regina’: A brief article outlining the purpose of the Witness Blanket and the learning opportunities it will provide for University of Regina students, as well as the community at large. Great resource for students to look at when wanting to gain insight into the impact this exhibit can have on a community, as well as the significance the exhibit holds in the process of reconciliation.

– Witness Blanket Virtual Tour App: A virtual tour of the Witness Blanket is now available in an app, which can be found in the app store – free to download and is compatible for Apple and Android. This makes so many learning experiences possible – students do not have to be living in a city hosting the exhibit to enjoy all that it has to offer!


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