#StaffPicks for Orange Shirt Day

In recognition of Orange Shirt Day, we have a selection of titles for you about Indian Residential Schools in Canada. Although all these titles are published for younger audiences, we recommend them for readers of all ages.

What is Orange Shirt Day?

[Orange Shirt Day] is an opportunity to create meaningful discussion about the effects of Residential Schools and the legacy they have left behind.  A discussion all Canadians can tune into and create bridges with each other for reconciliation.  A day for survivors to be reaffirmed that they matter, and so do those that have been affected.  Every Child Matters, even if they are an adult, from now on. 

Excerpt from “The Story of Orange Shirt Day” from Orangeshirtday.org

For more information, visit the Orange Shirt Day website: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/

The #Staffpicks

Phyllis’s Orange Shirt 
by Phyllis Webstad
illustrated by Brock Nicol

The story of Phyllis’s orange shirt, shared during the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) Residential School Commemoration Project and Reunion events in Williams Lake in May of 2013, was the inspiration for Orange Shirt Day.

Shi-shi-etko
by Nicola I. Campbell
Pictures by Kim LaFave

In her last days before going to residential school, Shi-shi-etko appreciates the natural world around her while her family members share valuable teachings they want her to remember.

Shin-chi’s Canoe
by Nicola I. Campbell
Pictures by Kim LaFave

In this sequel to Shi-shi-etko, Shin-chi’s older sister warns him about all the things he must not do when he goes to residential school for the first time. Through the long lonely days he finds comfort in the tiny cedar back canoe his father gave him.

As Long As The Rivers Flow
by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden
illustrations by Heather D. Holmlund

Larry Loyie shares his memories of his last summer at home before he and his siblings were taken away to residential school.

Fatty Legs : A True Story
by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Artwork by Liz Amini-Holmes

The true story of eight-year old Margaret, an Inuk girl who overcomes the attempts to humiliate her by one of the nuns at the residential school she attends by standing her ground and refusing to be intimidated.

For younger readers, try the picture book adaptation When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton with art by Gabrielle Grimard.

Not My Girl
by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Art by Gabrielle Grimard

In this sequel to When I Was Eight, ten-year old Margaret returns from two years at residential school to discover that her experiences have built distance between herself and her family, who now see her as an outsider.

For older readers, see A Stranger at Home by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton with artwork by Liz Amini-Holmes, the sequel to Fatty Legs.

I Am Not a Number
by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
illustrated by Gillian Newland

Based on the life of Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, I Am Not A Number, tells the story of eight-year old Irene, who fights to remember who she is and where she came from in spite of the nuns at residential school who try to force her to do otherwise.

Speaking our Truth : A Journey of Reconciliation
by Monique Gray Smith

This incredible non-fiction book by Monique Gray Smith recounts the history of truth and reconciliation in Canada, in a way which is approachable for readers both young and old.

If you’d like to learn more, here are a few places to get started:

Resources on Indian Residential Schools from the First Nations Education Steering Committee

The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation