There are many ways of working to stop the harms of residential schools and other forms of colonialism. Actions vary by positionality. Action can be practicing, teaching, or learning your Indigenous language, culture, and governance. Action can be donating money, volunteering time, or contributing resources to Survivors’ organizations. Action can be changing workplaces to better support Indigenous colleagues, partners, or local communities. Action can be lobbying institutions and governments. Action can be relinquishing control of heritage items or land to Indigenous communities with intimate relations to them. There are many ways to provide support, but it is often important to do so humbly and with a willingness to change. The information below aims to be useful in addressing colonial violence through financial contributions, research work, cultural heritage reconnection, and political solidarity.
These materials have been selected by GRASAC RAs Shenella Charles, Bradley Clements, Autumn Epple, Carlie Manners, and Sheila Annettee Wheesk based on GRASAC’s areas of focus. To make additions or corrections to this list, please contact us.
If you have the means, the following organizations can use your financial contributions to support Survivors and their communities, preserve evidence, commemorate, and work for change.
- Save the Evidence Campaign
- Indian Residential School Survivors’ Society
- First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
- Legacy of Hope Foundation
- Native Arts Society Fundraiser
- Toronto Indigenous Harm Reduction
Some companies are unethically or illegally selling Indigenous artists’ designs for profit without consent. Consider purchasing orange shirts and other merchandise from sources which use the proceeds to support residential school Survivors, education, and commemoration, such as these:
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the materials stewarded there can support family and academic research. If you have relevant evidence or research about Indian Residential Schools, consider offering it to the Centre where it can be made available to Survivors, family members, and other researchers.
If you have information about missing children who did not come home from residential schools, you can provide it to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation for the use of family, friends, and communities seeking their loved ones.
This video tutorial with Maddy Bifano, Jenna Lemay, Krista McCracken, posted by the SRC archives, provides information about finding residential school records.
Library and Archives Canada also has a list of resources and bibliographies of sources available for research in their holdings, which you can view here.
The University of New Brunswick’s Department of History issued a statement of condolences to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc and a call to action for Canadian historians. In this statement, they offer the help of professional historians to help recover records, conduct research, and assist with documentation for land claims. You can find this statement here. Following their lead, the Department of History at Nipissing University has also extended their aid. Other academic and professional departments and experts are encouraged to contribute their skills where needed and desired.
Many in the GRASAC network work in and for museums to ally them with Indigenous communities and undo colonial structures. GRASAC exists in part to support this work. The following resources may also be useful:
- School for Advanced Research, Guidelines for Collaboration
- Ontario Museums Association, Listen, Learn, Act
- BC Museums Association, Steps Museums and Museum Professionals Can Take to Make a Difference
Indian Residential Schools have been identified as institutions of cultural genocide, as part of a broader genocidal structure in Canada. Part of their role was to separate Indigenous children from their cultures. Indian Boarding Schools in the United States operated similarly and the systems in the two countries informed each other. One way to counteract the cultural genocide of residential and boarding schools is to support the reconnection of cultural and ancestral belongings and relations which colonialism separated – and continues to separate – from Indigenous peoples.
If you as an individual or as an employee, volunteer, or board member of a cultural institution have access to Indigenous ancestors’ remains or heritage items that have been disconnected from their communities and peoples, please seek out opportunities to reconnect them. This may include repatriation, loans, visits, and other forms of physical and digital access, as deemed appropriate by related Indigenous communities. The following organizations may be able to advise or assist in these processes, depending on location and the items in question.
- Anishinabek Nation (Ontario and region), Heritage and Burials Tool Kit: First Nation Responses to Repatriation and Sacred Sites
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (Indian Residential School materials)
- Woodland Cultural Centre (Six Nations of the Grand River and region)
- Ojibwe Cultural Foundation (Manitoulin Island and region)
- GRASAC (Great Lakes region)
- MACPRA (Michigan and region)
- Association on American Indian Affairs (USA)
- National NAGPRA Program (USA)
- Royal BC Museum (BC), Indigenous Repatriation Handbook
TRC Calls to Action and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Read the TRC Calls to Action and UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and work toward their fulfilment in your communities, institutions, and municipal, provincial, and federal governments.
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
Learn about and implement the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society 7 Ways to Make a Difference.