Step 1 – Investigation into the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in Canada

To get started you will invite your learner group to conduct their own investigation in to the history and legacy of IRS in Canada. Some of the research questions that you might wish to pose include:

  • Who went to Indian Residential Schools in Canada?
  • Who set up the Indian Residential Schools in Canada?
    • What organizations?
    • Key people in the development of the system.
  • Why were Indian Residential Schools established?
    • What was the goal of the government?
    • What were the goals of the churches involved?
  • When did Indian Residential Schools operate in Canada?
    • When did the first one open?
    • When did the last one close?
    • What are some of the significant dates in the IRS period?
  • What happened to the children who attended Indian Residential Schools?
    • Did every child have the same experience?
    • What do survivors have to say about their own IRS experience?
  • Where were Indian Residential Schools set up in Canada?
    • What were the locations of the schools?
    • How many were set up in each province and territory?
    • Were they located close to the children’s homes?
    • Were the schools in the south the same as the schools in the far north?
  • How did Indian Residential Schools affect the children who went there?
    • How did this affect parents and families?
    • How did this affect communities?
    • Did the impacts end when the children came home?

It is important to note that as the teacher/group leader you will be the best judge of which questions and resources are appropriate for the age and dynamics of your learner group. Some of the resources are more suited to a particular age group. The goal of Project of Heart is not to shame or traumatize the learner: non-Aboriginal or Aboriginal. The goal is to respect IRS survivors, the learner and the truth by bringing out the true history and allowing each individual to draw their own conclusions, make their own judgments and to build relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in the country based on the truth and respect for one another.

You may want to put the learners in pairs, small groups or they may wish to do some of their research and inquiry individually. Remember that the learning in this project is very intense and the content is heart breaking and disturbing so monitoring of the students and daily discussion/debriefing of what has been learned will be important.
**Be sure to have a counsellor or other support worker notified that you are doing this work so that learners will have support if the work triggers them or causes a response that causes the learner the need for support in processing what has been learned.

When you click on any of the categories included on this page you will find a variety of resources from many different sources. This will give you a good start for your learner research. You are now ready to start. Good luck and good learning.

The following is a list of categories of resource materials that we have compiled for your use in Project of Heart. If you click on any one of these headings you will have access to multiple resources to help you in your journey of learning.
Historical Documents
Maps/Visual Aids
Newspaper Articles
Survivor Reflections and Testimonials
Expression Through the Arts
Teacher Guides/Lesson Plans
By Teachers for Teachers
Downloadable Publications
Where to Buy Resources
Recommended Reading                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Survivor Cards