September 30 is known as Orange Shirt Day. This day is for raising awareness about the true history of residential schools in Canada. The Canadian government has also made it the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
This blog post contains information about resources for Orange Shirt Day that can be used with grade 7 and 8 students. It also contains information about Indigenous-owned businesses. This blog post is not an exhaustive list of resources, but a starting point for teachers who want to learn more about this topic.
Sample Orange Shirt Day Lesson Plan For Grades 7 and 8
- As a class, read the poem – “I Lost My Talk” by Rita Joe.
- Ask students what they think the message behind the poem is.
- Read the poet’s background information on the Facing History and Ourselves website.
- Re-read the poem and have a class discussion using the questions provided on the Facing History and Ourselves website.
- Watch the video Phyllis Webstad Orange Shirt Day Presentation to help students gain an understanding of this important day.
- Watch the video Heritage Minutes: Chanie Wenjack.
- Then, read this article Residential Schools in Canada (Plain-Language Summary) from the Canadian Encyclopedia.
- Finish the lesson by explaining to students that the impact of residential schools continues. This article “Shoes honour loss of 215 children at former residential school” explains why students might see shoe displays in their hometowns.
- If time permits have a discussion about how sports teams have started the renaming process to remove inappropriate team names and mascots. The article “Edmonton Elks: CFL club announces new name” is about a Canadian sports team.
Orange Shirt Day Resources
- Read this article What is Orange Shirt Day? from the CBC Kids section.
- Read the article Why Orange Shirt Day is personal for this 11-year-old from B.C.from the CBC Kids News section.
- To find some great resources for discussing Orange Shirt Day with students, check out the Teacher Resources section on the orangeshirtday.org website.
- Learn about residential schools at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ontario. Check out their Every Child Matters section for more information about Orange Shirt Day.
- The Building Bridges resource from LesPlan has a free sample issue all about Orange Shirt Day and residential schools.
- The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation website has an Education section with a variety of resources for teachers.
Picture Books About Residential Schools
Picture books are fantastic literacy resources to help students learn about a variety of topics and reinforce literacy skills. Please purchase these books from Indigenous-owned bookstores.
- When We Were Alone by David Robertson
- Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
- Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- When I Was Eight by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
- Phyllis’s Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
- I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
- Shi-shi-etko by Nicola I. Campbell
- Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola I. Campbell
Learn from these Indigenous-run Instagram accounts:
@tiplerteaches – Megan Tipler educates on current Indigenous issues, Truth and Reconciliation, how teachers can support Indigenous peoples, as well as inspiring Indigenous individuals in all kinds of fields. She also frequently shares amazing book recommendations for students across all grade levels!
@nativegirlsreading – Mallory Whiteduck shares her reviews and thoughts on a huge selection of books by Indigenous authors. This is a great account to go to for book recs both to use in your classroom, and to read for yourself.
@alyssagtyghter – Alyssa Gray-Tyghter posts about Black and Indigenous culture and history, racism in Canada, being a parent and teacher, and she shares a wealth of resources and recommendations for teaching middle school.
Also, check out these Indigenous-run bookstores the next time you or your classroom need some new reads:
- Good Minds – This store sells at their store in Brandford, ON, and online.
- Strong Nations - This store is based in Nanaimo, BC, but sells exclusively online.
- Iron Dog Books – This is a bookstore and book truck in Vancouver, BC. They sell online as well.
- Barely Bruised Books – This bookstore is located in Ottawa, ON, but ships worldwide.
- Massy Books – This bookstore is located in Vancouver, BC, but ships international.
- Librairie Hannenorak is located in Wendake, QC.
For Teacher Use Only
This content is for teachers to learn more about Indigenous peoples.
- University Course – The “Indigenous Canada” course through the University of Alberta is free to take for informational purposes, or you can pay a fee and get a certificate of completion.
- Podcasts – The Secret Life of Canada and Unreserved from CBC Podcasts
- Video – Watch the TVO documentary “There Are No Fakes” is a compelling story about art fraud, and the legacy of Anishinaabe artist and Canadian icon Norval Morrisseau.