Residential Schools

Truth and Reconciliation Week: September 26 - September 30, 2022

September 30 Opening for Orange Shirt Day 2021.mp4

Opening for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

(SCCDSB Students, Cecil Isaac, Bkejwanong Territory, Andria Dyer, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation)

Moment of Silence September 30 2021.mp4

Moment of Silence to honor the residential school survivors, family members of survivors, and the children who never made it home.

(Andria Dyer, Chippewas of the Thames First Nation)


215 marks an important number. It marks the nation's eyes opening to the truth. As the number of bodies being uncovered across the nation continue to rise, we commit to education and reccnciliation, to raising awareness and creating change and action among our students and families.

In loving memory...

In loving memory of the children that never returned home.

We recognize the difficult parts of our nation’s history. We wish to honour the lives of the thousands of children that never returned home.

Prayer for Reconciliation

Holy One, Creator of all that is, seen and unseen, of story and of song, of heartbeat and of tears of bodies, souls, voices and all relations: you are the God of all truth and the way of all reconciliation. Uphold with your love and compassion all who open their lives in the sacred sharing of their stories breathe in us the grace to trust in your loving forgiveness, that we may face our histories with courage; touch us through the holy gift of story that those who speak and those who listen may behold your own redeeming presence; guide us with holy wisdom to enter through the gates of remorse that our feet may walk gently and firmly on the way of justice and healing. Amen Adapted from Kairos

Art Work created by Artist Moses Lunham, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation

SCCDSB counsellors are working in collaboration with Mental Health and Addiction Nurses to respond to student needs for counselling. Should you have any students you feel should be referred to the SCCDSB team, The link for referral is Students, Parents and Caregivers can either be referred by a classroom teacher or self refer.

A national 24-hour crisis line is available to support Residential School Survivors and Families through the Indian Residential School Survivor Society 1-866-925-4419

Additional supports for student wellbeing:

Indigenous Student Mental Health

The Hope for Wellness Help Line

Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Help Line 1 866 925-4419

Metis Nation of Ontario Mental Health and Addictions Services and Crisis Line

Please reach out to should you have any questions or concerns in your planning and day to day discussions with your students.

BEYOND ORANGE SHIRT DAY: Continuing to Learn from Residential School Survivors.

LIVE Learning Opportunities

All Board Staff can sign up for ANY AND ALL sessions, including classroom geared sessions. Classroom geared sessions are great for any staff member to listen in on. Sign up today using the link below!

Register here for all Virtual Sessions

A full description of all sessions are outlined below.

Phyllis Webstad, Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from Xgat'tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band)

Founder and Ambassador of the Orange Shirt Society, creator of Orange Shirt Day, author and speaker who tours the country telling her story and raising awareness about the impacts of the residential school system. Click here to find out more.

Lila Bruyere, Couchiching First Nation and residing in Sarnia

Residential School Survivor and TRC Member who attended Ste. Marguerite Residential school when she was six and left when she was 14. Lila shares her story of resilience and the impacts of the residential school system. Click here to find out more.

Painting with Moses Lunham, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation

Moses brings story and painting together in lessons to allow time for students to reflect on their learning and to learn how to create images to inspire conversation.

Create a Collaborative Art Installation

Use this slideshow as inspiration to create a tiled display to commemorate residential school survivors and family members of survivors.

Collaborative Art Installation

Beginning the Year with Raising Awareness

As part of the mandatory curriculum that includes the teaching and learning of Residential Schools in an age appropriate way, schools across St. Clair Catholic District School Board are supporting and participating in this National learning opportunity.

Truth and Reconciliation Week, which includes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30, also known as Orange Shirt Day, provides an opportunity for schools and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come. It is a time to spread awareness of and reflect on the tragedies experienced as a result of the residential school system.

To connect conversations in the classroom, please use this webpage for links to resources and ideas about how to approach learning in the classroom before, during, and after Truth and Reconciliation Week, and all year. Please sign up for virtual sessions outlined below.

Classroom Discussions

Throughout classroom discussions, it is important to recognize that Indigenous people are not victims first. Include time to learn about the culture, the language, as well as history, traditions, and perspectives and the many resilient people who were impacted by residential schools. Please contact for further information about how to raise awareness and build understanding in your school and check out this Indigenous Education SCCDSB website below for resources and links to lesson ideas for before and after this important day and week is recognized.

When is the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation?

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which falls on September 30, recognizes the harm the residential school system did and is an affirmation that everyone matters. This day we know as Orange Shirt Day and for the first time ever it will be observed as a statutory holiday to commemorate the legacy of Residential Schools in Canada. Truth and Reconciliation Week is an opportunity to continue the learning and conversations all throughout the week.

This is an opportunity to keep the discussion on all aspects of residential schools happening annually. September 30 was chosen because September is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools, and because it is an opportunity to involve the students in the process and set the stage for anti-racism and anti-bullying in school conversations.

Remember those children and communities dramatically affected by the Indian Residential Schools System. September 30, known as Orange Shirt Day, is inspired by Phyllis Jack Webstad who, on her first day at residential school in 1973, was stripped of her new orange shirt.

Sign up for the LIVE events outlined below that are happening to bring learning into the classroom and for your own personal learning. All staff can sign up for all sessions. Please let know if you require any accommondations.

St. Clair Catholic District School Board Acknowledgement of Ancestral Lands

We are thankful for the Creator’s gift of Mother Earth, providing everything we need for life: air, water, land, and all of Creation. We acknowledge that this land, surrounded by water, on which we are gathered today is part of the ancestral land of the Anishinaabeg and the Lunaapeewak. Together, as treaty people, we have a shared responsibility to act with respect for the environment, protecting the future for those generations to come.

Language Pronunciations

Anishinaabeg (ah-nish-i-nah-beg)

Lunaapeewak (le-naw-powuk)


Loving God

Your creation explodes with the colours of the rainbow

Your peoples reveal the beauty of diversity

We remember today when the joy and dignity of a precious child was destroyed.

We lament today for the childhoods lost through the residential school system.

We mourn for the spirits crushed and the futures compromised.

Celebrate the hope and joy of every child

Tell the stories of resistance that make us stronger

Build the bonds of solidarity to ensure “never again”

We pray for the survivors, those that never made it home, and all who are impacted. Amen

Adapted from Kairos

Engaging in Learning

  1. Discuss: What makes you, you? Who and what things, stories or traditions would you say are important to you? What do you have that reminds you of - or helps you feel close to - your favourite place and favourite people?
    (Remind students that all people have arts, stories, histories, and more that are important and help us feel included, and make us unique and special.)

  2. Visit this Orange Shirt Day website, read the first two paragraphs and the "Today" section of Phyllis’ story. Help students connect to her by sharing her photographs with students.

  3. Watch the local documentary "We Are Still Here" (linked here and below under documentaries) and reflect about each of the stories. Ask students what impacted them most. How have their ideas changed after watching the documentary.

  4. Visit the residential schools interactive map (linked here and below under maps). Find out the location of residential schools. Investigate how far the residential schools would have been away from the families of the students that attended. Discuss what impact this made.

  5. Invite students to connect with Phyllis' story: What did having her orange shirt taken away mean to her? What does the shirt symbolize for her? Why do you think Phyllis shared this story? What sorts of things do people say and do to make others feel they don't belong? that they do belong? What can we do today to let survivors know that we've listened and are learning from their stories? Why do we wear orange? What else can we do to remember; to learn; to educate others?

  6. Think about symbols. Paint rocks orange, create handprints, draw hearts to remember, create orange duct tape messages on walls, use the sidewalk and create chalk messages; reflect, discuss, pray, raise awareness.

  7. Ask students to create a response (i.e. a letter, a card, an art work) to their learning about the stories of residential schools and share that response with a survivor or a family member of a survivor. (contact to share)

  8. Share a Survivor's Story... Aloud and In Person Bring the stories, words and emotions to life in your classroom, virtually, at an assembly or at a flashmob teach-in in the halls with a Reader's Theatre or Found Poetry performance. These strategies help students and audiences to connect with the emotions articulated. Follow the performance by sharing who Phyllis Webstad or other survivor's are today; their story is one of victimhood as a child, but it is also one of healing, defiance, resilience, and courage. Honouring the whole being means honouring the whole story.

  9. Make a commitment to read and learn more. There are a multitude of resources available from early years to adult. Many books in our schools already exist as well as many onlline resources can be found below.

  10. Review and understand how you can make space in your homes, places of work or worship, for the day to day learning of First Nations, tis and Inuit history as well as the contemporary First Nations, tis and Inuit realities. Remember to include stories of resilience and create space for youth to see themselves in the learning and have mentors to aspire to.

  11. Engage in your own personal conversations within your own circles on how you can begin a different relationship with those who are different than you.

  12. Place your feet on the land and take a couple of minutes to listen, smell, feel, and appreciate what is around you.

  13. Continue learning all throughout the year, it is a process and a journey.

adapted from: & (questions modified to include a local connection as well as additional suggestions are included for reflective learning)

"Orange Shirt Day provides all Canadians with an opportunity to come together in a collective act of reconciliation and hope for generations of children to come."

Resources for the classroom and for personal learning ...

(please scroll down on the remainer of this page for a multitude of resources that can be used across the grade levels and for personal learning)

Understanding the meaning behind Orange Shirt Day


Phyllis' Story (English)


Phyllis' Story (French)


Child-friendly Guide to the Calls to Action

EduClaTruthandReconciliationWeek2021EducatorsGuide (1).pdf

The BCTF and BC’s Project of Heart – ebook – this amazing resource tells the hidden stories behind BC’s residential schools, and gives learners practical ways to include their new knowledge in meaningful gestures or reconcilation.

Hidden history – links and resources prepared by the BCTF, including videos, presentations, online resources and teacher’s kits.

Voices From Here Video Series and Interactive Text

The bodies of the 215 children found marks an important time in history where the truth that was always known was undeniable. This marked the beginning of bringing the children home across the nation.


Take Action Together!

Use this template to get started with writing a letter to advocate for change!

Taking Action Together - Template Letter.docx

Phyllis Webstad's Story

Phyllis Webstad shares her story in a child-friendly, easy to follow way. The background in the video changes to show traditional way of life vs life in residential school.


Local Documentaries

We Are Still Here - Local Documentary

"We Are Still Here" documentary features three local women from Bkejwanong Territory, also known as Walpole Island First Nation, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The three elders share their memories of surviving residential schools.


Full Version

Aftershock - Local Documentary

"Aftershock" documentary features the children of the three local women from Bkejwanong Territory, also known as Walpole Island First Nation, and Aamjiwnaang First Nation. This is the story of the next generation of the three elders who shared their memories of surviving residential schools in the "We Are Still Here" documentary.

Aftershock 10min version.mp4

Aftershock (10 min Version)

Aftershock 40 min.mp4

Aftershock (Full Version)

We Are Still Here and Aftershock (Combined) Documentary

This documentary is a combined documentary of the two above films, capturing the essence of both films with the generation that attended residential schools and the intergenerational trauma.

Interactive Map

On September 30, 2020, Canadian Geographic shared an exciting new website that focuses on residential schools that were not officially recognized in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Along with an interactive map, there is a teacher’s guide and lesson plans that explore three survivors’ stories. All Canadians are encouraged to reflect on their knowledge of residential schools in Canada and join us in the path to reconciliation by expanding the knowledge of this topic in schools.

Books for the Classroom in Your School

All Grade Levels

You Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith

Junior/Intermediate Classes

Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith


Speaking Our Truth Teacher's Guide

Intermediate/Senior Classes

Use this folder for an updated and complete list and links to current resources in your school.

Texts in Schools

Online Resources


Use tiles as a reflection tool and commemoration exhibit to honor those who attended Residential Schools and their families. Click on the title above / image below and the pdf beside to view classroom/school ideas.

Project of Heart Resource Booklet (1).pdf

What Can I Contribute to Meaningful Reconciliation? Teaching and Learning About Residential Schools Unit

This a unit that explores the causes and consequences of residential schools in Canada. Developed in collaboration with Grand Erie District School Board, Six Nations of the Grand River’s Education Department, and the Mississaugas of New Credit, this resource supports educators and learners in using a critical-inquiry approach to develop deep understandings of some of the complex, challenging, and painful events that have affected the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. This resource invites thoughtful and reflective explorations that move us beyond understanding the past and into our roles and responsibilities in the present. Through a learning journey where carefully considered decisions and empathic engagements are nurtured, learners are encouraged to develop genuine commitments and engage in meaningful actions that contribute to reconciliation. Designed for grade six and up, the fully-developed lessons include briefing sheets, image sets, suggested resources, and blackline masters to support student thinking and learning about reconciliation.


You Hold Me Up, read by author Monique Gray Smith

What Does Truth, Reconciliation, and Hope Mean to You?

The following three videos, entitled "Truth", "Reconciliation" and "Hope" include intimate interviews with residential school survivors, indigenous youth and leaders in education and politics. They're an excellent tool to spark discussion about this troubling history as well as how we can build a better future.



The Secret Path

Gord Downie, the lead singer of the Canadian band, The Tragically Hip, is bringing attention to one of the most haunting legacies in our country's history - the residential school system and the children and families who were affected by it all. Downie released a multimedia project called The Secret Path, which consists of an album with 10 new songs, and a graphic novel by Jeff Lemire. The project is devoted to sharing the story of 12 year old Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinabe boy who died from hunger and exposure after escaping from his residential school to try and find his way home.

The Secret Path - CBC Arts


I Lost My Talk is based on the poem by Mi'kmaw elder and poet Rita Joe, C.M. Rita Joe penned her poem to express not only the pain and suffering she experienced at Schubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, but also her hope and conviction that her words could guide and inspire indigenous and non-indigenous peoples across Canada to journey to a place of strength and healing.

I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe


Rosanna Deerchild shares her mother's residential school story.

Additional Videos & Documentaries

Historica Canada

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Although the first residential facilities were established in New France, the term usually refers to the custodial schools established after 1880. Originally conceived by Christian churches and the Canadian government as an attempt to both educate and convert Indigenous youth and to integrate them into Canadian society, residential schools disrupted lives and communities, causing long-term problems among Indigenous peoples. Since the last residential school closed in 1996, former students have pressed for recognition and restitution, resulting in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement in 2007 and a formal public apology by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008. In total, an estimated 150,000 First Nation, Inuit, and Métis children attended residential schools.

Clouds of Autumn

This film focuses on a young Indigenous boy named William and his older sister Shayl whose carefree childhoods are torn apart when Shayl is forced to attend a residential school. Singular visual interpretations infuse co-director Trevor Mack’s family history with a slowly shifting tone that evokes loss and love.

Residential Schools Podcast Series

The Métis Residential School Experience

The Inuit Residential School Experience

Cultural Mindfulness

"Everyone has a story. The first step towards understanding other people is learning about their past. George Couchie takes us through some of his Indigenous culture and history, educating us about the impacts of residential schools. Inspiring youth Angel Armstrong, Mckenzie Ottereyes Eagle, and Miigwan Buswa share their connection to the past and show us how they are stopping those negative cycles by embracing culture.

Planning Resources

Resource Folder

This resource folder contains the files in connection with residential schools and recognizing the legacy of residential schools before, during, and after Orange Shirt Day. Click on this folder to expand.

SCCDSB Student Learning

Grade 7/8 students at St. Joseph Catholic School, Tilbury, retell the story, When We Were Alone by David Robertson.

Grade 7/8 students at Holy Family Catholic School presented a play to the community to honor residential school survivors and commemorate Orange Shirt Day in their school.

Moses Lunham,

Kettle and Stony Point First Nation

The Flower


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Art to Inspire Action

Artist Moses Lunham, Kettle and Stony Point First Nation, teaches students to paint Truth and Reconciliation inspired paintings. Through painting and storytelling, students learn about residential schools and the importance of learning and journeying together.

The Secondary Student Leadership Group at St. Patrick's Sarnia host a live stream interview with residential school survivor Susie Jones baa for all classrooms across the school on the first day of a week-long recognition of the legacy of residential schools.

Theland Kicknosway,

Bkejwanong Territory

Theland shares his journey as he inspires youth to get involved in raising awareness and educating others.

Student Reflections

Copy of Takeaways from Theland's Presentation

Grade 7/8 students Holy Trinity Catholic school create a presentation to raise awareness and sew hearts that include a message with calls to action towards reconciliation.

Grade 8 students at Holy Trinity Catholic School create a presentation to share their learning about the legacy of residential schools for Orange Shirt Day.

Kidwin Zhingwaak trailer 2019

The UCC Youth Leadership Group, Kidwin Zhingwaak, share their reflections and are creating their own documentary!

Taking Action and Educating

Displays to Raise Awareness for Truth and Reconciliation Week

Classroom and school displays inform others about why it is important to recognize the legacy of residential schools and participate in Truth and Reconciliation Week. Encourage everyone to wear Orange on September 30!

Sample Displays

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