Teaching and learning to honour truth and reconciliation

The Department of English and Film Studies supports the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For learners and teachers whose workplace is situated on lands that are now known as part of Treaties 6, 7 and 8 and homeland of the Métis, September 30 is an occasion to give prominence to the shared responsibility to be continually mindful of the history and the legacies of colonization and of the consequences of the residential school system for Indigenous people in the past and in this moment. It is an occasion to reaffirm a commitment to a shared responsibility to respond to the Calls to Action at institutional and personal levels every day.

In 2021-22, EFS will begin to develop a shared departmental resource of materials for teaching and learning to honour truth and reconciliation, providing students and instructors in EFS with links to important publicly accessible resources such as those provided by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation; references to publications engaged with questions of education and decolonization; and bibliographies of print and oral texts, study guides, lesson plans and questions for students and teachers who are engaging in their classrooms with works in which the history of the residential school system and its colonial prehistories are central. Resources will be accessible on our EFS intranet.

There are many events taking place on September 30, 2021, and many actions to take.

First Peoples' House at the University of Alberta encourages everyone on September 30 "to wear an orange shirt to honour and remember the experiences and loss of the thousands of children who were stolen from their families and placed in Indian Residential Schools (IRS). Wear your Orange Shirt, take a photo and use the hashtag #ualbertaosd2021 and share, “Why I Wear an Orange Shirt.” Post your photo to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and [First Peoples' House] will share responses at the end of the day on September 30." Orange shirts may be purchased through the University of Alberta Bookstore.

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has a week of events planned with many, many publicly accessible resources. Educators who are registered may also access many talks, presentations and performances this week.

Publisher Penguin Random House describes EFS Professor Jordan Abel's 2021 book Nishga as "a groundbreaking, deeply personal, and devastating autobiographical meditation that attempts to address the complicated legacies of Canada's residential school system and contemporary Indigenous existence." Nishga has just been nominated for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. In addition to reading this extraordinary book, you may wish to watch/listen to EFS Professor Jordan Abel discussing his 2021 book Nishga with University of Manitoba Department of English, Theatre, Film and Media Professor Warren Cariou.

In addition to rereading the TRC's Calls to Action, if you have not yet read the TRC's report, Where are the Children Buried? by Dr. Scott Hamilton, Department of Anthropology, Lakehead University, you may want to read this report and the accompanying document with maps and illustrations.

Read the July 30, 2021 New York Times article about University of Alberta Anthropology Professor Kisha Supernant, "The Indigenous Archaeologist Tracking Down the Missing Residential Children." (University of Alberta students and staff may subscribe to the New York Times for free through the University of Alberta Library.)

Watch/listen to University of Alberta Political Science Professor Matthew Wildcat speaking in Narratives of Truth and Reconciliation, Episode 1 in the Rapid Research Response 4 part web-series developed by the Institute of Prairie and Indigenous Archaeology and the Kule Institute for Advanced Study.

Events at the University of Alberta can be found here, and include a 60-minute panel discussion and Q&A session by Patricia Makokis, Dwayne Donald and Roger Epp, who will discuss steps all Canadians can take to build positive relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, particularly in rural Alberta. Please note, this event will not be recorded and will not be available for viewing once the event is over.

Team ReconciliAction YEG reflects on "what 'reconciliation' means" here.

The Cree Literacy Network provides many resources here.

On September 30, Landspeak will host a one-hour online gathering, to begin an online durational reading of Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: The Executive Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). "Heeding the call from Indigenous organizations, and in the wake of the horrific revelations of unmarked grave sites this summer, the Canadian Association for Theatre Research has invited white/non-Indigenous/settler Canadians to read the findings of the TRC in groups over the autumn. [Landspeak is] responding to the call. In our mission to connect and foster dialogue between people in Ireland and Canada, we invite not only white/non-Indigenous/settler Canadians to read the TRC, but Irish people to read it also." A link to listen can be found here.

You may wish to donate to the Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society.

You may wish to donate to the University of Alberta First Nations, Métis, Inuit Student Emergency Award. "Gifts of any amount will make a difference and help to equalize access to education for First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples. Indigenous students at the U of A with demonstrated financial need are eligible for support through the award."

EFS continues to build a fund for undergraduate or graduate scholarships dedicated to Indigenous, Black and students of colour. You can choose whether you would like to donate only for ungrad students, for grad students, or have your donation split between the two funds. A payroll deduction of $84 per month for a year would fund a $1000 scholarship for a student. Donations can be any amount you wish. Please contact Teresa Zackodnik or Cecily Devereux.

The federal government has provided information about the marking of September 30 here. People are invited on September 29th at 2:00 ET to "join the Prairie Federal Council and the Canada School of Public Service for an event on the lived experiences of residential school Survivors and their communities. Guest speakers will share their thoughts and insights on what those experiences mean for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and for us all as we continue the journey towards truth and reconciliation." Registration deadline: September 29, 2021 at 10:00 am ET.