A Journey towards Truth and Reconciliation
I couldn't do a week of featured Canadian stories without Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith published by Orca Book Publishers. This book is vital and should be a required text in every Canadian classroom. It is a non-fiction book to be savoured, read slowly with reflection. Monique Gray Smith makes reflection easy by including leading questions to guide your journey through the book and towards reconciliation. Speaking Our Truth is a journey and as the author points out, just as a physical journey you must be prepared before you set out. In order to fully understand and appreciate this text you must make sure you start with an open mind and an open heart. There are some incredibly harsh truths uncovered in this book. You will feel uncomfortable, angry, sad, confused and hopefully by the end hopeful for the future.
We are fortunate to be living in a time where our children are being taught about Canada's true history. Many of us did not have the luxury of being informed of the atrocities inflicted upon First Nations in our journey through the Canadian school system. Speaking Our Truth is a book to guide not only our children's learning but to fill in the gaps in our own education about our history. I am continually saddened by the fact that many of us were not even aware of Residential School or The Sixties Scoop until the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation report. I find the more I read the more I am learning about our country's history and the more I am compelled to share stories written by First Nations voices to continue my learning journey and I hope you feel the same way.
Speaking Our Truth is full of personal stories of those who have been affected by the residential school system so you can fully appreciate the devastation of this government program and the ripple effect that can still be felt generations later. We also learn about the honorary witnesses of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee and their responsibility to the process. Finally there is teaching and learning about how you can become an ally, how you can inform yourself and commit to equality. We can all be allies and strive to ensure the correct information is getting into the hands of all people. In that way we can move towards reconciliation, to begin to heal the deep seated wounds.
I have not completed my journey through Speaking Our Truth but wanted to ensure you all knew about this powerful book so, if you choose, you can also begin your journey.
Other books for further reading to expand your knowledge and understand of the impact of the Indian Act and the Residential School system:
- Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga
- Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
- The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
- Secret Path by Gord Downey and Jeff Lemire
- When We Were Alone by David A. Robertson and Julie Flett
- Stolen Words by Melanie Florence and Gabrielle Grimard
- Dear Canada: There are my Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Peahens by Rudy Slipperjack
- I Am Not A Number by Jenny K. Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and Gillian Newland
- Shin-Chi's Canoe and Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell and Kim LaFave