Orange Shirt Day Lesson Plans & Resources
Kindergarten – Grade 3
  • Read a book that talks about the first day of school such as Jessicaby Kevin Henkes, Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt or The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.
  • Have students talk about their feelings about the first day of school or when they were courageous/brave.
  • Read Phyllis’s story
  • Have students colour the two sided shirt template
  • Create a class book illustrating Phyllis’ story with promotes and student illustrations

When I was Eight by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Olemaun is eight and knows a lot of things. But she does not know how to read. Ignoring her father’s warnings, she travels far from her Arctic home to the outsiders’ school to learn. Based on the true story of Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, and complemented by stunning illustrations, When I Was Eightmakes the bestselling Fatty Legs accessible to younger readers. Now they, too, can meet this remarkable girl who reminds us what power we hold when we can read.

  • After reading the book have the students colour orange hearts and write messages for Olemaun. These messages may be words of understanding, or I know/I wonder questions about her experience at the school available read online on youtube)
Grades 4 – 8
  • Shi Shi Etko by Nicola Campbell(see attached lesson plans)
    In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school. She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world — the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather’s paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.
  • Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton
    Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools.At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.
  • Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance (see attached lesson plans)
    Life is changing for Canada’s Anishnaabe Nation and for the wolf packs that share their territory.In the late 1800s, both Native people and wolves are being forced from the land. Starving and lonely, an orphaned timber wolf is befriended by a boy named Red Wolf. But under the Indian Act, Red Wolf is forced to attend a residential school far from the life he knows, and the wolf is alone once more. Courage, love and fate reunite the pair, and they embark on a perilous journey home
  • No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School by Sylvia Olsen, Rita Morris and Ann Sam
    No Time to Say Goodbye is a fictional account of five children sent to aboriginal boarding school, based on the recollections of a number of Tsartlip First Nations people. These unforgettable children are taken by government agents from Tsartlip Day School to live at Kuper Island Residential School. The five are isolated on the small island and life becomes regimented by the strict school routine. They experience the pain of homesickness and confusion while trying to adjust to a world completely different from their own.
  • I Lost My Talk by Rita Joe (see attached lesson plan)
    This poem by Rita Joe talks about her experiences at the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia. The poem talks about loss of identity, loss of language and the reclaiming of identity.
  • Tebatchimowin: Promoting awareness of the history and legacy of the Indian Residential School System.
    This resource was developed as a joint Indian Residential School commemoration project between the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and the Legacy of Hope Foundation. The guide includes important historical information and definitions as well as lessons plans for 6 activities:
    1. Project of Heart:Students create art on symbolic tiles to commemorate survivors and their experiences.
    2. Giving Voice to the Brick:Using photographs of an Indian Residential School students will engage in a creative writing project that will allow them to explore their feeling and reactions to what life was like for Indian Residential School students.
    3. The Apology Revisited:Students use the federal governments apology as an introduction to the Residential School system.
    4. Bearing Witness:Students listen to testimony of survivors and intergenerational survivors. The intent of this activity is to bear witness to real experiences and learn from their stories, express compassion and become advocates for change and reconciliation.
    5. Sacred medicines:Students will learn about the four sacred medicines and how they are used.
    6. Nunali: Art and Identity: Students will use Inuit art to create their own works to reflect their own identity.
  • Where Are the Children
    This website contains archival photographs, stories, and resource lists which allow students to explore the history and legacy of residential schools.
Grades 9-12
  • Manitoba Education and Training: From Apology to Reconciliation: Residential School Survivors
    This Manitoba Education and Training resource was developed in response to the Government of Canada’s formal apology to Aboriginal people who attended residential schools. The project was created to help Manitoba students in Grades 9 and 11 understand the history of the residential school experience, its influence on contemporary Canada, and our responsibilities as Canadian citizens. This resource includes a video of the stories of survivors and intergenerational trauma as well as lesson plans and blackline masters organized in three clusters : The Past, The Present and the Future.
  • We Were Children: A film by Tim Wolochatiuk
    For over 130 years, more than 100,000 Indigenous children were legally required to attend government-funded schools run by various Christian faiths. These children endured brutality, physical and mental hardship and cultural denegration. Told through their own voices, ‘We Were Children’ is the shocking true story of two such children: Glen Anaquod and Lyna Hart.  Adapted from EV Staff
  • America’s Native Prisoners of War-Aaron Huey TEDtalk
    Aaron Huey’s effort to photograph poverty in America led him to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, where the struggle of the native Lakota. His haunting photos intertwine with a shocking history lesson.
  • They Call Me Number One by Bev Sellars
    The first full-length memoir to be published out of St. Joseph’s Mission at Williams Lake, BC, Sellars tells of three generations of women who attended the school, interweaving the personal histories of her grandmother and her mother with her own. She tells of hunger, forced labour, and physical beatings, often with a leather strap, and also of the demand for conformity in a culturally alien institution where children were confined and denigrated for failure to be White and Roman Catholic.
  • 500 Years of Resistance Comic Book by Gord Hill
    A powerful and historically accurate graphic novel which portrays Indigenous peoples’ resistance to the European colonization beginning with the Spanish invasion under Christopher Columbus and ending with the Six Nations land reclamation in Ontario in 2006.
  • Rabbit Proof Fence- A movie directed by Phillip Noyce
    This award winning film set in 1931 documents the journey of three aboriginal girls in Australia who were plucked from their homes and sent to a Residential school where they were to be trained as domestic staff. The story focused on their escape from the school and their trek across the Outback.
  • National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
    The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is located in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba. Part of the mandate of the NCTR is to house the statements, documents and other artifacts gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to make them accessible to all Canadians. As a result the NCTR continues to create ways to ensure that teachers and students are able to access primary and secondary source documents. The website provides access to the following:
    • Links to a variety of educational resources that can be used in the classroom (Educational Resource Tab under “Resources”)
    • Access to the NCTR database (Access Your Archive Tab under “ Access the Database”). Examples of documents that teachers and students are able to access include but are not limited to: descriptions of Residential schools, student enrollment records, school newsletters, photographs, news stories and  financial records.