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Residential School & Historic Trauma Survivor Resources   Tags: healing, historic trauma, intergenerational trauma, reconciliation, residential schools  

This section provides information intended to help victims of historic trauma and residential schools in Canada to find healing.
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Official Statements of Apologies

Compiled official statements from governmental and religious bodies through the years acknowledging their role in the residential school system and their offers of apology and healing to the survivors for the hurt inflicted upon them and their communities.

Educational Websites

These educational websites are designed for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences to understand the history of the residential school system, the impact it had on Aboriginals, and to help bring about healing and understanding between the two groups.

  • Where are the Children? Healing the Legacy of the Residential Schools
    Companion website to the traveling exhibition put on by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, the "Where Are the Children?" exhibit with the intent to acknowledge the experiences of, and the impacts and consequences of Canada’s Residential School System on Aboriginal peoples and to promote public awareness, understanding and education of the history and legacy of residential schools.

    The exhibition consists of 118 framed archival photographs, text panels, maps, original classroom textbooks and historical government papers selected from nine public and church archives, and depicts the history and legacy of Canada’s Residential School System. Where are the Children? spans over 130 years and contains photographs and documents from the 1880s to present day.
  • Witness Blanket
    Inspired by a woven blanket, a large scale art installation was created, made out of hundreds of items reclaimed from Residential Schools, churches, government buildings and traditional and cultural structures including Friendship Centres, band offices, treatment centres and universities, from across Canada. The Witness Blanket stands as a national monument to recognise the atrocities of the Indian Residential School era, honour the children, and symbolise ongoing reconciliation.
  • A History of Residential Schools in Canada
    A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) put together by the CBC about the history of residential schools, compensation and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. A good introduction to the context with which the residential school system operated.
  • Remembering the Children
    The website chronicles the March 2008 multi-city tour by Aboriginal and church leaders to promote the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools.
  • Indian Residential Schools Commemoration Project (Anishinabek Nation)
    This project from the Anishinabek Nation titled "“Honouring Our Children, Families, and Communities Affected by Indian Residential Schools Project” commemorates the experiences of its citizens who attended Indian residential school with the objectives of fostering healing and reconciliation. These education resources seek to enhance understanding about the residential schools and improve relations between First Nations and non-Aboriginals.
  • Regina Indian Industrial School Multimedia Project
    The Regina Indian Industrial School (RiiS) was a Residential School opened in 1891 and closed in 1910. The RiiS Multimedia Project represents the legacy of the Regina Indian Industrial School and the destiny of its descendants. Its companion, the (pronounced rise-media-dot-org) website, heals and restores communities by creating awareness and inspiring action. Using a predominantly web-based delivery platform and multiple narratives, RiiS Multimedia engages media users by creating a future involving family restoration, healing and reconciliation. A long-form documentary conceived and directed by First Nations media makers will form the centerpiece of the website.
  • National Research Centre for Truth & Reconciliation
    Housed at the University of Manitoba, the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NRCTR) was created to preserve the memory of Canada’s Residential School system and legacy. Not just for a few years, but forever. Officially opening in the summer of 2015, the NRCTR will be the permanent home for all statements, documents, and other materials gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).

Maps of Residential Schools

These resources map out the known residential schools that operated in Canada spanning the mid-1800s to 1996. Makes note of opening and closing dates and other technical details.


Overview of Residential School & Historic Trauma Survivor Resources

The Indian residential school system is a shameful chapter in Canada's history. The school system set up by the Canadian government and administered by different churches removed Aboriginal children from their family and community and assimilate them into the dominant culture. Forbidden to speak their languages and removed from the traditions and customs of their ancestors, the goal was to "kill the Indian in the child." Widespread abuse (physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological) was also inflicted on many of the students.

The schools operated in the 1800s and lasted right up until 1996 when the final school closed down. In the years after the schools were shut down, the Canadian government and the church organizations took steps to acknowledge their roles in this situation, issuing official apologies, participating in healing, setting up compensation for survivors of this historic trauma, and telling the full truth about what took place in the halls of these schools. This LibGuide page provides resources for survivors and the wider Canadian population for understanding the full extent of the residential school system and the opportunities for healing to happen.


Support From Health Canada

If you attended an Indian Residential School, you and your family may be eligible to receive health support services, such as:

  • Cultural Support - Elders for traditional healings, ceremonies or teachings
  • Emotional Support - Resolution Health Support Workers to listen, talk and provide support
  • Professional Counselling - A Psychologist or Social Worker for individual or family counselling
  • Transportation - Assistance with transportation may be offered when professional counselling and cultural support services are not locally available

For immediate emotional assistance you can reach the
National Crisis Line 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at

To access health support services and for more information, please call the toll-free line for your province/territory. Or visit our Health Canada's website. You can also check out the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program.

  • Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Québec
  • Ontario
  • Manitoba
  • Saskatchewan
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut

Organizations & Support Groups

These organizations and support groups provide information and resources to help those who went through the residential school systems and provides information about compensation and settlements for survivors.

  • Project of Heart
    Project of Heart is hosted by the National Day of Healing & Reconciliation, a department of the Native Counselling Services of Alberta. Contains multimedia resources for educators, activists, courtworkers, survivors, and concerned citizens alike to learn the history of the residential school system and steps you can take in healing our communities.
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
    As a result of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was set up with the mandate to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools. The Commission hopes to guide and inspire First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and Canadians in a process of truth and healing leading toward reconciliation and renewed relationships based on mutual understanding and respect.

    The TRC website publishes findings, information about events, projects, and educational material.
  • Indian Residential Schools (AANDC)
    Provides an overview of the Indian Residential School system with information on the settlement, eligibility for compensation, resources for healing, and others.
  • Indian Residential Schools Settlement
    The official court website for the settlement of the Residential Schools Class Action Litigation. Contains information about the nature of the settlement and compensation for survivors of the residential school system.
  • Legacy of Hope Foundation
    "LHF is a national Aboriginal charitable organization whose purposes are to educate, raise awareness and understanding of the legacy of residential schools, including the effects and intergenerational impacts on First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, and to support the ongoing healing process of Residential School Survivors. Fulfilling this mandate contributes towards reconciliation among generations of Aboriginal peoples, and between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada."
  • National Residential School Survivor's Society's Remember the Children Residential School Resource Centre
    An initiative of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association (CSAA) and the Residential School Research, Archive, and Visitor Centre, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN), and the National Residential School Survivors' Society (NRSSS). They have been collecting photographs and documents about Indian and Inuit Residential and Day Schools for a number of years.

    Photo albums and documents concerning the history of residential schools and day schools in Ontario are collected here in addition to documents from Indian Affairs, the House of Commons, and the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
  • Indian Residential School Survivor's Society (IRSSS)
    The Indian Residential School Survivor Society (IRSSS) is a British Columbia provincial organization providing services to Indian Residential School Survivors since 1994. Their mandate is to assist First Nation Peoples in British Columbia to recognize and be holistically empowered from the primary and generational effect of the residential schools by supporting research, education, awareness, establishing partnerships and advocating for justice and healing. The Society assists survivors with counselling, court support, information, referrals, workshops and more.
  • Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat
    The Adjudication Secretariat helps survivors of the residential school system through the Independent Assessment Process (IAP). The IAP is for former students who have a claim of sexual or serious physical abuse. It provides them with a way to settle their claim more quickly, out of court. The process is designed to be claimant-centred, but fair and neutral. It is an adjudication process. The Adjudicator resolves claims and awards compensation.

    In addition to resources for former students and legal practitioners, it details the number of claims received, resolved, in progress, and the level of compensation distributed.
  • Indian Residential School Survivor Support Worker Program
    The Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program provides support, guidance, referrals to former IRS students and their families. The survivor support program facilitates the development of a support system to empower the claimants to become prepared to appear at their court hearings. Included in the program will be seminars and services which meet the members’ individual needs. The goal is primarily to provide effective holistic strength to the survivors prior to, during and after the ADR and litigation processes.
  • Aboriginal Healing Foundation
    An Aboriginal-managed, national, Ottawa-based, not-for-profit private corporation established March 31, 1998 with the goal of supporting Aboriginal people and facilitate the healing process as a result of the abuse in the residential school system. This bilingual site features funded projects, FAQs, links and bulletin board. The residential schools publications section includes useful resources such as a timeline, bibliography, poster series and a directory of funding sources for healing activities.
  • Assembly of First Nations Policy Area. Indian Residential Schools Unit
    Provides a summary of the AFN's activities of advocacy for the full implementation of the Indian Residential Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) and to achieve the overarching principles of healing and reconciliation for former Indian Residential School (IRS) students and Canadians.
  • Assembly of First Nations - Personal Credits
    On January 20, 2014 the Government of Canada announced that eligible former Indian Residential Schools (IRS) students who qualified for the Common Experience Payment (CEP) under the IRS Settlement Agreement may now qualify for a one time IRS Personal Credit (no cash value) for educational programs and services.
  • Reconciliation Canada
    Reconciliation Canada is an Aboriginal led initiative building meaningful relationships through transformative experiences. Our focus extends beyond the Indian Residential School experience to those communities who have received official apologies from the government of Canada, including the Jewish, Sikh, Chinese and Japanese peoples. Our initiatives engage people from every part of Canadian society in open and honest conversation about our diverse histories and experiences in order to build resilient and sustainable communities.

A Lost Heritage: Canada's Residential Schools

"In 1928, a government official predicted Canada would end its "Indian problem" within two generations. Church-run, government-funded residential schools for native children were supposed to prepare them for life in white society. But the aims of assimilation meant devastation for those who were subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Decades later, aboriginal people began to share their stories and demand acknowledgement of — and compensation for — their stolen childhoods."

For a complete collection of archival news clips on residential schools, please visit the CBC Digital Archives website.


Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School

Our Spirits Don’t Speak English: Indian Boarding School,” a documentary that examines an educational system that was designed to destroy Indian culture and tribal unity. When it began in 1879, the philosophy of the Indian boarding school system was “to kill the Indian and save the man,” the mission statement of Captain Richard Henry Pratt, founder and superintendent of Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania until 1904.

More info about the film available at their official website.


Brian Nootchtai: Inter-Generational Effects of Residential School

"The Union of Ontario Indians received funding through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to develop tools and erect a monument to pay tribute to Anishinabek Nation members who attended Indian Residential School. The project is entitled "Honouring Our Children, Families, and Communities Affected by Indian Residential Schools".

As part of the project, a series of five educational videos were created. In this video Brian Nootchtai, Mental Health Case Worker at the N'Mninoeyaa Aboriginal Health Access Centre in Cutler, Ontario, discusses the inter-generational effects of Residential School, and notes that validating the residential school experience - as individuals, families and communities is an important step to healing."

More information on the project can be found at the Anishinabek Nation website.

To see the rest of their educational videos, please visit their YouTube playlist.


Inside Story Americas : Revisiting a dark chapter in Canada's history

"The country's Indian residential schools have long been a source of shame, but will a new report shed new light on them? To discuss this, Inside Story Americas is joined by guests: Kimberly Murray, the executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada; Cindy Blackstock, the executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada; and Frank Wallace, who represents the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and attended a residential school himself."

Originally broadcast for Al-Jazeera English on February 21, 2013.


Project Of Heart

"Story about remembering the lost children of residential schools in Canada."


Clip 1 Healing The Hurt And Shame Of Native Residential Schools

"This dynamic and heartfelt video documents the devastating effects of the Native Canadian and Native American Boarding Schools that dramatically shattered aboriginal cultures, children, families and communities throughout North America. Viewers join Native American participants from Canada and the United States, during a four-day, culturally-based, healing process for understanding and recovering from this type of traumatic experience. For information on how to obtain a copy of the Healing the Hurts Video please visit or call 1-604-542-8991"

View Clip 2 and Clip 3.


Murray Sinclair: Truth & Reconciliation

"Justice Murray Sinclair on the progress of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission and why it continues to matter to all Canadians."


A National Journey for Reconciliation - TRC Alberta National Event

For more video from the various Truth & Reconciliation Commission events, visit their YouTube and Vimeo channels.

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Selected Titles From The BearPaw Library

The following selected titles are available to borrow at our physical library.

Cover Art
Broken Circle:The Dark Legacy Of Indian Residential Schools - Theodore Fontaine
Call Number: 371.829 FON 2010
ISBN: 9781926613666
Publication Date: 2010-09-01
"Theodore Fontaine lost his family and freedom at age seven, when his parents were forced to leave him at an Indian residential school. His life was not his own for the next 12 years. The after-effects of those years have lasted much longer. In this powerful memoir, Theodore shares his experiences and the insights that have evolved on his healing journey. Broken Circle resonates with his resolve to help himself and others, and with his enduring belief that one can pick up the shattered pieces and use them for good."

Cover Art
Finding My Talk - Agnes Grant; Marlene Starr (Foreword by)
Call Number: 371.8 2997 071 2004
ISBN: 9781894856577
Publication Date: 2005-04-01
"When residential schools opened in the 1830s, First Nations envisioned their own teachers, ministers, and interpreters. Instead, students were regularly forced to renounce their cultures and languages and some were subjected to degradations and abuses that left severe emotional scars for generations. In Finding My Talk , fourteen aboriginal women who attended residential schools, or were affected by them, reflect on their experiences. They describe their years in residential schools across Canada and how they overcame tremendous obstacles to become strong and independent members of aboriginal cultures and valuable members of Canadian society. Biographies include: Eleanor Brass, Journalist, Plains Cree, Saskatchewan, Rita Joe, Poet/Writer, Mi'kmaq, Nova Scotia, Alice French, Writer, Inuit, Northwest Territories Shirley Sterling, School Administrator/Storyteller, Nlakapmux, British Columbia, Doris Pratt, Education Administrator/Language Specialist, Dakota, Manitoba, Edith Dalla Costa, School Counsellor, Woodland Cree, Alberta, Sara Sabourin, Community Worker, Ojibway, Ontario. Dr. Agnes Grant worked with the Native Teacher Training programs at Brandon University, Manitoba, for thirty years. As an administrator and professor, she spent much of her time in remote communities. Dr. Grant is the author of No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada and three other books. She lives in Winnipeg."

Cover Art
Magic Weapons - Sam McKegney; Basil H. Johnston (Foreword by)
Call Number: 810.9 897 MCK 2007
ISBN: 9780887557026
Publication Date: 2007-11-07
"The legacy of the residential school system ripples throughout Native Canada, its fingerprints on the domestic violence, poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide rates that continue to cripple many Native communities. Magic Weapons is the first major survey of Indigenous writings on the residential school system, and provides groundbreaking readings of life writings by Rita Joe (Mi'kmaq) and Anthony Apakark Thrasher (Inuit) as well as in-depth critical studies of better known life writings by Basil Johnston (Ojibway) and Tomson Highway (Cree). Magic Weapons examines the ways in which Indigenous survivors of residential school mobilize narrative in their struggles for personal and communal empowerment in the shadow of attempted cultural genocide. By treating Indigenous life-writings as carefully crafted aesthetic creations and interrogating their relationship to more overtly politicized historical discourses, Sam McKegney argues that Indigenous life-writings are culturally generative in ways that go beyond disclosure and recompense, re-envisioning what it means to live and write as Indigenous individuals in post-residential school Canada."

Cover Art
Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices On Child Custody And Education - Robert Bensen (Editor)
Call Number: 305.897 CHI 2001
ISBN: 9780816520138
Publication Date: 2001-03-01
"Sometimes the losses of childhood can be recovered only in the flight of the dragonfly.Native American children have long been subject to removal from their homes for placement in residential schools and, more recently, in foster or adoptive homes. The governments of both the United States and Canada, having reduced Native nations to the legal status of dependent children, historically have asserted a surrogate parentalism over Native children themselves. Children of the Dragonfly is the first anthology to document this struggle for cultural survival on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border. Through autobiography and interviews, fiction and traditional tales, official transcripts and poetry, these voices- Seneca, Cherokee, Mohawk, Navajo, and many others- weave powerful accounts of struggle and loss into a moving testimony to perseverance and survival. Invoking the dragonfly spirit of Zuni legend who helps children restore a way of life that has been taken from them, the anthology explores the breadth of the conflict about Native childhood."

Cover Art
Behind Closed Doors: Stories From The Kamloops Indian Residential School - Jack Agnes (Editor)
Call Number: 371.829 BEH 2006
ISBN: 9781894778411
Publication Date: 2006-11-01
"Behind Closed Doors features written testimonials from thirty-two individuals who attended the Kamloops Indian Residential School. The school was one of many infamous residential schools that operated from 1893 to 1979. The storytellers remember and share with us their stolen time at the school; many stories are told through courageous tears."



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