September 30th, 2022 is the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, held alongside Orange Shirt Day; a grassroots commemorative day meant to raise awareness of the devastating intergenerational impacts of residential schools, and to state “Every Child Matters”. The orange shirt also symbolizes the stripping away of “culture, freedom and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations” ( https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/national-day-truth-reconciliation.html )
The Orange Shirt Day Society was founded by Phyllis Webstad, a residential school survivor, writer, grandmother, mother and wife, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band), who remains the Ambassador for the society. You can read more about Phyllis’s story over here: https://www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html
Wearing orange is a way we can acknowledge and honour residential school Survivors, as well as reflect on what we can do in our work and everyday lives to support reconciliation, survivors, and those who suffer from the legacy of residential schools and colonialism in Canada.
Thoughtful reflection can lead to action, and today, we highlight some work libraries are doing to take action towards reconciliation and meaningful support of our communities.
Last year, Smithers Public library approached us with a request to purchase books to give away at a community event hosted on the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Wendy – the Library Director – had a list of titles chosen as educational resources that community members could take home and use on that day (and more to come) to learn about this history and its ongoing impacts. Books such as these are invaluable tools to increase awareness, empathy and understanding around these issues, and encourage open conversation between families and friends. Learning the truths of this history is a critical part of reconciliation and building strong relationships, and the stories in these books tell those truths in both fictional and non-fictional formats. Here's a quick snapshot of some of the titles she chose:
- Phyllis's Orange Shirt by Phyllis Webstad
- Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
- I Am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis
- Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story, by David Alexander Robertson
- A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System by John S. Milloy
- They Called Me Number One : Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School by Bev Sellars
We were delighted when word spread, and several other libraries approached us with the same request. Wendy shared that list with others, and as a result 10 libraries applied grant funding towards similar book giveaways or displays at their libraries in 2021. We are happy to say that several libraries are doing so again in 2022!
There are several other examples of the work libraries are doing to support Truth and Reconciliation in their communities, and these are just a few we know about!
- Smithers Public Library is hosting a film screening and book giveway. They’ll be showing North Boys: The story of Jimmy & Charlie, written and directed by Laura Cabott and Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld.
- Fort St John Public Library and the Tse’K’wa Heritage Society are partnering to establish a library in the form of a ‘satellite collection’ located in the Tse’k’wa Elders/Community Lounge with a focus on materials related to Reconciliation and Indigenous artifact repatriations along with pocket copies of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to share onsite and distribute at outreach events.
- Some libraries purchased print booklets of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to give away at community events.
- Many more libraries have purchased books sets for reading circles, book clubs, door prizes and giveaways.
On our end at LawMatters, we’ve amended our selection criteria to include sources that promote a greater understanding of the Canadian justice system overall, with particular focus on Truth and Reconciliation, equity, inclusion, and social justice. We encourage a focus on materials that inform BC residents about our fundamental charter rights and freedoms, when they have not been recognized, and how past and present systemic racism manifests in our justice system. Titles that highlight efforts made to redress these injustices and build a more equitable and accessible model of justice are also prioritized. Finally, we've broadened our list of recommended sources to include those created for children and teens. Here’s a short list of some new additions:
- Speaking Our Truth: A journey of reconciliation, by Monique Gray Smith
- Righting Canada's Wrongs: Residential Schools, by Melanie Florence
- Righting Canada’s Wrongs: The Sixties Scoop and the Stolen Lives of Indigenous Children, by Andrew Bomberry & Teresa Edwards
- Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Inuit Relocations, by Frank James Tester and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski
- When We Were Alone, by David A Robertson, Ilustrated by Julie Flett
New to the LBLL
- Reconciliation and Indigenous Justice: A Search for Ways Forward (2022), by David Milward
- Standoff: Why Reconciliation Fails Indigenous People and How to Fix It (2021), by Bruce McIvor
- Wise Practices: Exploring Indigenous Economic Justice and Self-Determination (2021), by John Borrows, et al
- Beyond Rights: The Nisg̱a’a Final Agreement and the Challenges of Modern Treaty Relationships (2021), by Carole Blackburn
- Indigenous Repatriation Handbook (2019), by Jisgang Nika Collison, Sdaahl K̲’awaas Lucy Bell, Lou-ann Neel
If you have any new ideas for programs, initiatives or titles focused on Truth and Reconciliation, please get in touch, we’d love to hear them. Reach us at email@example.com.
We hope that you have a meaningful National Truth and Reconciliation Day and Orange Shirt Day. Courthouse Libraries BC branches will be closed on Sept 30 in recognition of this important day but we're otherwise open Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM through our email and phone reference services. Check our website for the operating hours of specific branches.
Toll-free line: 1-800-665-2570
Reference email: firstname.lastname@example.org