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.

McGill Films 101

Why procrastinate with Netflix when McGill offers 7 other streaming services for you! Here is a guide with tips on how to navigate the wonderful world of film and documentaries available to students. 

The Audio and Visual Materials guide is your first stop to accessing these services. You can also check out the Self-Isolation Care Package Films page for some top picks. 

For a super easy login, just have your McGill username and password on hand when prompted.


FILM ON DEMAND: 

This service is mostly focused on documentaries and has a variety of topics to choose from! If you want to dive deeper on a topic you learned in class, or simply get some trivia facts this is for you.


AVON (Academic Video Online):

The collection tab separates the content by academic focus and there’s plenty to choose from. This service is perfect for finding a great documentary or an interesting source for a paper. 


KANOPY: 

A gem! This platform has many documentaries and films to teach you a little something about the world.


CRITERION ON-DEMAND: 

While you need a VPN to login it is well worth it! McGill IT* has the easy steps here. Once you’re connected to the McGill Server you can access the platform as normal with your McGill credentials. Criterion-on-demand has award-winning films and cult-classics, you are guaranteed to find a movie you’ll enjoy. 

*If you’re stuck you can reach the IT Service desk who will guide you! 


NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA (NFB): 

The National Film Board of Canada has thousands of titles if you’d like to watch wonderful stories but don’t have that much time. 


CANCORE: 

Support independent filmmakers with Cancore! Enjoy a wide access of Canadian films including resources relevant to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies.


DRAMA ONLINE: 

This one is for all the theatre kids. Filmed performances of plays include the National Theatre, London; at the Globe Theatre; and Shakespeare’s history plays. In order to access the video recordings, be sure to click the video box!


HAPPY STREAMING!

If you have any questions, feel free to email hssl.library@mcgill.ca for additional help.