Children’s Books About Residential Schools in Canada
Church-run schools for Indigenous children were created in Canada in the 1600s. In 1883, the Canadian government funded and helped establish more church-run schools. The goal was to assimilate Indigenous children into the dominant white, Christian society. By the time the last residential school closed in 1996, more than 150,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children had been forced to attend against their will and the wishes of their parents. Many children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused at the schools. Thousands died. The multigenerational social and psychological effects of the schools have been devastating and ongoing. The federal government and churches have apologized for what is now widely considered a form of genocide. (See also Genocide and Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
Knowledge of what happened at the schools is an essential part of reconciliation and healing. Many children’s books have been written about residential schools as part of that essential effort. This list includes titles for toddlers to preteens. Together, these books explore a variety of themes related to residential schools, including intergenerational trauma, language revitalization, commemoration and the power of resistance.