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Indigenous Awareness (Part 1): What You Need To Know First

Updated: Nov 17, 2022

Before engaging with Indigenous Communities, you will need to understand the following information in this short guide.

The following overview is a brief introduction to Indigenous Awareness which covers some of the history behind Residential Schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action.

For those of you who are about to work with Indigenous Communities or are interested in working with Indigenous Communities, the following information is something that you will need to know and understand before you start your engagement activities.

If you have any questions or need someone to talk with regarding your Indigenous engagement and awareness activities, please give us a call at (705) 657-1126 or by email: (See Indigenous Awareness Training Part 2 and Indigenous Awareness Training Part 3 for the continuation)

Chi Miigwetch!

Residential Schools

• In the early 1600s, Catholic nuns and priests established the first residential schools in Canada

• In 1883, these schools began to receive funding from the federal government when the Government of Canada created the residential school system.

• The main goal of the system was to assimilate Indigenous children into white, Christian society

• These schools operated between 1831 and 1996 and over 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forced to attend during this period. Thousands died

either at school, or because of their experiences in the system. Many more remain missing.

139 Indian Residential Schools Across Canada

18 known to operate in Ontario

• Bishop Horden Hall (Moose Fort, Moose Factory), Moose Factory Island

• Cecilia Jeffrey (Kenora, Shoal Lake), Kenora

• Chapleau (St. John's), Chapleau

• Cristal Lake, Northwestern Ontario

• Fort Frances (St. Margaret's), Fort Frances

• Fort William (St. Joseph's), Fort William

• McIntosh, McIntosh

• Mohawk Institute, Brantford

• Mount Elgin (Muncey, St. Thomas), Munceytown

• Pelican Lake (Pelican Falls), Sioux Lookout

• Poplar Hill, Poplar Hill

• St. Anne's (Fort Albany), Fort Albany

• St. Mary's (Kenora, St. Anthony's), Kenora

• Shingwauk, Sault Ste. Marie

• Spanish Boys' School (Charles Garnier, St. Joseph's, formerly Wikwemikong Industrial), Spanish

• Spanish Girls' School (St. Joseph's, St. Peter's, St. Anne's, formerly Wikiwemikong Industrial), Spanish

• Stirland Lake (Wahbon Bay Academy), Stirland Lake

• Wawanosh, Sault Ste. Marie

Indian Day Schools

• These schools were not included in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission or the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement

• Close to 200,000 First Nations, Inuit, Métis and non-status Indian children attended Day schools and like residential schools

• Day schools were schools run by the Canadian government and Christian churches where First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were sent during the day, but lived with their

parents and remained in their Communities.

Indian Day School Settlement Agreement

• In August 2019, the Federal Court approved a nation-wide class settlement to compensate Survivors of day schools.

• As of January 2020, 699 federally operated Indian Day Schools have been identified as eligible under this settlement.

• In 2009, Garry McLean a Member of the Lake Manitoba First Nation started legal action seeking justice for day school Survivors.

Truths Discovered

• On May 28 2021, the remains of 215 Children where found at the Kamloops Residential School

• Since this time 1800 + bodies have been discovered

• Brandon, Manitoba

• Marieval, Saskatchewan

• Cranbrook, British Columbia

• Kuper Island British Columbia


Truth and Reconciliation

• It had a 6 year mandate to listen to and record the stories of Indian Residential School survivors, they heard 6,740 statements and inducted almost 100 Honourary Witnesses to work on Reconciliation.

• The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a requirement of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement reached in 2007, the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.

• Seven national events across Canada were hosted to engage the Canadian public to educate people about the history and legacy

Residential school locations in Canada

Justice Murray Sinclair Chair, Truth and Reconciliation

Commission of Canada

Chief Wilton

Littlechild Commissioner

Dr. Marie Wilson Commissioner

“It is due to the courage and determination of former students the Survivors of Canada’s residential school system that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

(TRC) was established.

They worked for decades to place the issue of the abusive treatment that students were subjected to at residential schools on the national agenda. Their perseverance led to the reaching of the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

All Canadians must now demonstrate the same level of courage and determination, as we commit to an ongoing process of reconciliation. By establishing a new and respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal Canadians, we will restore what must be restored, repair what must be repaired, and return what must be returned”.


In preparation for the release of its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has developed a definition of reconciliation and a guiding set of principles for truth

and reconciliation. “This definition has informed the Commission’s work and the principles have shaped the calls to action we will issue in the final report.”

Reconciliation --“establishing and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal peoples in this country

Principles of Reconciliation

• The United Nations' "Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples" provides the framework for reconciliation at all levels and across all sectors of Canadian society.

• First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples, as the original peoples of this country and as self determining peoples, have Treaty, constitutional, and human rights that must be recognized and respected.

• Reconciliation is a process of healing of relationships that requires public truth sharing, apology, and commemoration that acknowledge and redress past harms.

• Reconciliation requires constructive action on addressing the ongoing legacies of colonialism that have had destructive impacts on Indigenous peoples’ education, cultures and languages,

health, child welfare, the administration of justice, and economic opportunities and prosperity.

• Reconciliation must create a more equitable and inclusive society by closing the gaps in social, health, and economic outcomes that exist between Indigenous and non Indigenous Canadians.

• All Canadians, as Treaty p