Residential Schools

Staff & Community Learning Opportunities

The Mush Hole: Public Evening Performance

The Mush Hole

October 12 - Capitol Theatre - Tickets now on sale!

The story of Canada’s first Indian Residential school, the Mohawk Institute (aka “The Mush Hole”), honours the resilience, courage and strength of residential-school survivors. This award-winning theatre piece created by Six Nations choreographer Santee Smith is performed by the internationally acclaimed Kaha:wi Dance Theatre.

Visceral performances by an all-Indigenous cast, cinematic imagery and a haunting musical score transport audiences into the bricks and mortar of the school, in an unforgettable story about finding hope and light in the darkest of places.

Presented in partnership with the St. Clair Catholic District School Board & the Capital Theatre.

Mature content: recommended for ages 13+

Click here for Tickets

In Person LIVE Classroom Learning: Grades 8 - 12

School e-flyer.pdf

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


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 reconciliation, 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.

This 2022 - 2023 school year, as numbers congtinue to climb by the thousands, we stand in solidarity and call ourselves to action as we remember the children.

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.

LIVE Learning Opportunities

Truth and Reconciliation Week:

September 26-30, 2022

TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION WEEK 2022 is a national program open to all schools across Canada. This year, our theme is “Remembering the Children”. Join in as we memorialize the children lost to the residential school system and honour Survivors and their families. Learning and commemorating the truth of our history from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge keepers is an important part of the path to Reconciliation.

This year includes an expanded program with age-appropriate material for all students.

All sessions will be held virtually on Hubilo. Registration is required to stream live and pre-recorded sessions.

Truth and Reconciliation Week:

SCCDSB Hosted Learning Opportunities

Register HERE

Grades K and up

The Importance of Apples and Orange Shirt Day

September 28

LIVE & Streamed for the Week

9:00 AM

Duration: 45 minutes

Grade level: K+

Learn all about apples and the origins and importance of Orange Shirt Day. During this interactive presentation students will learn about where apples come from and their different parts while also learning about why they were so important to the children that attended the Mohawk Institute Residential School. Students will also learn about the origins of Orange Day and why it’s important to commemorate the survivors of Residential Schools.

Painting with Moses Lunham

September 30

LIVE & Streamed for the Week

Duration: 1 hour

Grade level: K-3

Connect with Author David Robertson

September 28

Grades 2 - 5

STREAMED all week

Author David Robertson shares an introduction for classes to use before reading When We Were Alone and shares connections for students after the classroom reads the story with their teacher.

Grades 7 - 12

Truth and Reconciliation

September 26

LIVE & STREAMED for the week

LIVE at 1:00 PM

Duration: 45 min

Grade level: 7+

The goal of the Truth & Reconciliation presentation is about raising awareness of the tragic history of the residential school system. It examines the history and policies that lead to

the creation of the residential schools, their legacies, and why truth and reconciliation is important.

Mohawk Institute Residential School Virtual Tour and Debrief

September 28

LIVE & Streamed for the Week

LIVE at 12:30 PM

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

Grade level: 7+

The tour of the former Mohawk Institute Residential School, gives the history of the school from when it opened in 1831, until it closed in 1970. Participants will see different

rooms in the school, from the meeting room, the girls’ and boys’ dorms, the third floor, cafeteria, and various rooms in the basement. After the presentation participants will have

the opportunity to ask questions or share comments with the Cultural Interpreter.

Painting with Moses Lunham

September 30

LIVE & Streamed for the Week

Grade level: 4-12

Connecting with Poetry

Grades 5 - 12

Dr. Judy Peters, Bkewanong Territory, shares her poetry and connects poetry as a call to action. Schools have just receiced 2 new poetry books, I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe and I'm Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas. This will be a great link from local to books in your school. See lesson plan here in English and in French for I Lost My Talk to use during Truth & Reconciliation Week.


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


J'ai perdu mon parler


Register for SCCDSB hosted Sessions HERE

Lambton County Library

The Lambton County Library is hosting two screenings of the combined “We are Still Here” and “ Aftershock” documentaries followed by Q&As from the filmmaker, Dwayne Cloes.

Tuesday, September 27 from 12:00-1:00 p.m. @ Sarnia Library Theatre

Classes can register here:

Wednesday, September 28 from 9:00-10:00 a.m. @ Kineto Theatre in Forest

Classes can register here:

Hands On Connections to Learning


Collaborative Art Installation

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

Contact for tiles.

Collaborative Art Installation


Painted Rocks and other Physical Displays

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.

Scroll through slide show pictures beside for ideas.


Display Boards

Create a display board as a class to invite other classes, parents, and community to engage in learning.

Scroll through slide show pictures for inspiration.


Orange Shirt Day Pins

Create Orange Shirt Day pins to raise awareness and keep the messsage of reconciliation going.

How can you create your Orange Shirt Pin and make it meaningful? What would you want to put on your orange shirt? What message do you think it should represent?

A few ideas for your pin design:

  • An orange shirt

  • Could include words such as, “Every Child Matters”; “Orange Shirt Day”; “215+” placed on the shirt

  • Could include images such as a handprint or a heart placed on the shirt

  • Could include the name of someone important to you that is a residential school survivor

  • Could place a QR code on the back of your orange shirt pin to continue to educate others


What does the pin mean to you when you wear it?

How can you share what you learned?

What is the feedback from those you connected with?

Lana Parenteau, Indigenous Peer Navigator was moved to create Orange Shirt Pins as a way to keep the conversations going.

Lana and CK Coming Together decided that making pins to raise awareness was a simple yet powerful way for people to just start working together.

Key messages on making orange shirt pins from Lana include: Our History, Yours and Mine, Together We Learn, Together We Heal. As Lana and CK Coming Together sat with our school board, Lana reminds all of us that the pin is personal, you can create as many as you see fit to raise awareness and create your own orange shirt pins that speak to you.

Read and Reflect

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?

Connect with students that all people have arts, stories, histories, and more that are important and help us feel included, and make us unique and special. These were taken away with residential schools. Ask students to think about and list all things they like/love about school.

Read a picture book (grade appropriate such as, “I am Not a Number”, “The Train”, “When We Were Alone”, “Shi-Shi-Etko”, “The Orange Shirt Story” (English French video) or any other book about residential school that you choose. Invite students to ask questions and share their feelings about the reading. Review list that they created before they read the book, and decide which things from that list were present at residential schools.

Read the first two paragraphs and the "Today" section of Phyllis’ story. Help students connect to her by sharing her photographs with students.


Grades 7-12, 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.


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.


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?


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.


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)

"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."

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. 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)

Begin the Year with Raising Awareness and Keep the Conversations Going

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.

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 it is 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.


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

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

All Ages


Phyllis' Story (English)

All Ages


Phyllis' Story (French)


Child-friendly Guide to the Calls to Action

EduClaTruthandReconciliationWeek2021EducatorsGuide (1).pdf

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.

Meaningful Reconciliation & Taking Action


This unit 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. Designed for grade six and up.

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

Visit our Paths To Reconciliation website during Truth and Reconciliation Week (Sept. 26-30) for age-appropriate materials, such as survivor stories and lesson plans, for students in grades 1 through 12. Also remember to keep visiting this site throughout the year!

Along with an interactive map, there is a teacher’s guide and lesson plans that explore three survivors’ stories.

Browse excerpts from the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada (autochtones du Canada) and pair them with an activity from our teacher’s guide for a powerful lesson on the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. A tiled map is also available.

Books for the Classroom in All Schools

Primary Classes

You Hold Me Up Author's Note

When We Were Alone Pronunciations

When We Were Alone Teachers Guide.pdf

When We Were Alone Teacher Guide by David Robertson

Primary/Junior Classes

Junior/Intermediate Classes

Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith


Speaking Our Truth Teacher's Guide

Intermediate/Senior Classes

See lesson plan here in English and in French for "I Lost My Talk" by Rita Joe.


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


Grades 8 - 12 Literature Kits available upon request.

Residential Schools Literature Kits

Senior Classes

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

Texts in Schools

Colouring Pages


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

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

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


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

Classrooms and schools create displays to inform others about why it is important to recognize the legacy of residential schools and participate in Truth and Reconciliation Week.

SCCDSB Displays