Books on Residential Schools in Canada

Content warning: residential schools

McGill University is located on land which has long served as a site of meeting and exchange amongst Indigenous peoples, including the Haudensaunee and Anishinabeg nations. McGill honours, recognizes and respects these nations as the traditional stewards of the lands and waters on which we meet today.

The discovery of 215 children buried at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School has awoken many Canadians to the horrors of the residential school system in Canada. Starting in the late 1800’s, the Canadian Government and several churches devised the school system as a way of removing Indigenous children from their homes and cultures with the purpose of assimilating them into settler culture. This horrific practice has left generations of trauma among Indigenous peoples and has been labelled a cultural genocide by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

The truth about residential schools may not be known by all in Canada and may even be a completely new revelation for international students studying here at McGill University. We encourage all to take advantage of the resources available to them to learn more about this school system and the devastating impact it is had on Indigenous peoples. At the McGill Library we have many books and films that you can use to expand your knowledge and view of residential schools. The books included in the list below are told by Indigenous voices whenever possible and include both non-fiction and fiction titles.

List of books and films on residential schools in Canada.

Some of the books and films that are a part of this list were created in a time when the perspectives and language used to describe residential schools did not reflect the horrors that were inflicted within them. Please consider the time-period and the societal views of the creators as you delve into these works.

For those looking to find academic research on residential schools, our Indigenous Studies guide is a great place to start.

Other resources include:

While this is not en exhaustive list of resources, we encourage all to seek out and educate themselves not only on residential schools, but also on the history of Indigenous peoples as we all take steps forward in reconciliation.

If you have any questions about the resources shared in this post, please contact hssl.library@mcgill.ca.

Redpath Book Display: E-Scholarship

As members of such a large (and busy) University, it can be easy to forget one of McGill’s main purposes as an institution: scholarship. With over 48,000 thesis and dissertations, a fantastic way to look back on the rich history of our University’s academic excellence is through e-scholarship; the complete archival data basis of McGill thesis and dissertations, spanning from 1833 to present day.

In order to celebrate another year of scholars completing their studies at McGill, the Humanities and Social Sciences Library created a virtual book display featuring a few thesis published this past year. These are especially impressive, as some are from scholars whose works were successful even in unprecedented times. Access this display to see some of the fantastic thesis here.

E-scholarship is an excellent– and underutilized – resource. Created in 2005 in order to increase accessibility to the thesis archives, the e-scholarship institutional repository ensures that research produced at McGill is visible, free, accessible, disseminated, and preserved for future interests – all while maintaining researchers copyright.

“My favorite part about e-scholarship – beyond the fact that it’s open access of course – is the history” Jessica Lange, e-scholarship librarian added, “you can delight in interesting gems [in the archives]. McGill research is really imbedded in the history of Montreal. You might find stories or projects that tell you more about the history of this city than you were expecting; stories you can’t find other places.”

One of the benefits of this free history is the quantity of famous or successful works in the collection. To view some of the more well-known alum on record, such as Harriet Brooks, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, and  John O’Keefe , visit the Highlights from McGill theses and dissertations.

To learn more about e-scholarship and to access the database, visit e-scholarship at McGill.

Have any questions? Contact escholarship.library@mcgill.ca for concerns on e-scholarship or hssl.library@mcgill.ca for other assistance.

Where are all the Women in Wikipedia?

Wikipedia logo assembled piece by piece created by Giulia Forsythe.
Wikipedia. Created by giulia.forsythe

How many times did you consult Wikipedia in the last month, week or even today? Once, twice maybe more? Perhaps you saw that Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka recently won the 2021 Australian Open, googled her and stumbled across her Wikipedia page only to realize that hours later you were stuck in a Wiki rabbit hole learning about the “first widespread animation device that created a fluent illusion of motion”, the phenakistiscope. For whatever the reason, the English Wikipedia, and its over 6 million articles, is a gold mine of information, but not for all topics.  

The Gender Gap

There is a severe Gender Bias in Wikipedia, which manifests itself in multiple forms: most contributors are men, most biographies are about men, concepts that are of interest to women have less coverage, and articles written by women or about women are consistently questioned over those articles written by men or about men. Wikipedia has a Gender Bias toward Women. Despite these gaps, however, there are numerous projects that are working to help address them and offer more diverse coverage of subjects on and about Women.  

Female symbol. Created by Gustavb

Women in Red WikiProject 

The WikiProject, Women in Red, seeks to increase the number of biographies on Women in Wikipedia by transforming red links (links without a Wikipedia article) into blue links (links with a Wikipedia article.). Additionally, Women in Red seeks to increase the visibility of Women by adding Creative Commons licenses photographs to Wikimedia Commons that can then be used in Wikipedia articles or outside of the Wikimedia projects.  

Women WikiProject 

The Women WikiProject group’s goal is to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of subjects pertaining to women and invites contributions from people of all gender identities, sexual orientations, geographic locations and backgrounds to participate.  

Art+Feminism 

Art+Feminism is an international community that “strives to close the information gap about gender, feminism, and the arts on the internet.” The community is responsible for many edit-a-thons focused on closing these gaps in Wikipedia.    

Les Sans PagEs 

Et en français there is the Les sans PagEs group, that is dedicated to turning red (dead) links into blue (functional) links in pages about women, feminism, and other underrepresented subjects . The Les sans PagEs group intersects with the Women in Red WikiProject and the Art+Feminism group by expanding the work on the Francophone Wikipedia.  

How you can contribute! 

Contributing to Wikipedia is open to all! You do not have to be anybody special to correct, change or create entries in Wikipedia.  There are many ways to contribute: 

  1. Adding references (citations) to existing Wikipedia articles 
  1. Correcting punctuation in existing Wikipedia articles 
  1. Expanding and adding content (sections, paragraphs, etc.) to existing Wikipedia articles 
  1. Translating existing Wikipedia articles into other languages 
  1. Illustrating Wikipedia articles with Creative Commons licensed images 
  1. Creating a new Wikipedia article from the scratch 

Interested in learning how to contribute? Join me for an introductory workshop on contributing to Wikipedia on Tuesday 9 March 2021 from 12:00 to 13:00Registration required. The workshop will be given via the Zoom platform and will focus on contributing to the English-language Wikipedia. 

Can’t make it to the workshop? Wikipedia has numerous resources that can help you self-teach on how to contribute.  

For more information contact hssl.library@mcgill.ca.