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In response to the discovery of approximately 215 children buried at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, Surrey Schools' Aboriginal Learning department has compiled a list of teacher resources to inform learning about residential schools and how to teach students about them in the classroom.
"We felt that during this time it was critical that we raise awareness of what residential schools are, what happened, why it happened, so we can learn from that tragic error in Indigenous history," said Juanita Coltman, District Principal of Aboriginal Learning. "It was a really devastating time in Canadian history."
The list contains more than 40 resources teachers can draw from in preparing lesson plans and handling conversations with students of all grade levels about the dark history of residential schools in Canada. Coltman said many students may have questions and it's important to educate them in age-appropriate ways, while also being careful when presenting information in case there is a trigger for students who may have had a family member or relative in a residential school.
"'Why were they buried in unmarked graves, why were they buried at a residential school, why are we doing all of this?'" said Coltman. "I think it's important for us to understand that part of history. They need to know the truth."
Additional resources are available on the Surrey Schools ONE website under the tag Every Child Matters, gathered by teacher-librarians across the district, featuring book lists, videos and website recommendations.
Coltman also encourages teachers to check with their school's teacher-librarian for other resources, noting they may have other important resources that aren't on the list from the Aboriginal Resource Centre, which is also available to parents and students.
"We really hope teachers take the time to teach this in a meaningful and respectful way in the classroom," she said, noting the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) has some excellent resources for Grade 5, 10 and 11-12 students.
To see the full list of resources, click here.