In 2021, the Government of Canada designated a federal statutory holiday on September 30 as The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The designation of a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation was #80 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. This designation is intended “to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Some straightforward ways to observe The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation include wearing an Orange Shirt in recognition of Phyllis Webstad and all those who were sent to Residential Schools (https://www.orangeshirtday.org/) and reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action (https://ehprnh2mwo3.exactdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf) and seeing which ones you can work towards implementing or which calls you can encourage your elected officials to work towards. Some more challenging but still important ways to observe TRC Day include learning more about The Land Back movement and thinking about how you can implement decolonial practices in your day-to-day life and in your professional practice.
SaskBooks is proud to work with Saskatchewan publishers who are adding to the knowledge of Indigenous peoples’ experiences in Canada.
The Gabriel Dumont Institute Press promotes “the renewal and development of Métis culture through research; materials development, collection, and distribution; and the design, development, and delivery of Métis-specific educational programs and services1”, and the books it publishes further this end. Road Allowance Kitten and Road Allowance Kitten: Broken Promises by Wilfred Burton and Christina Johns tells the not-yet widely known story of the displacement of Métis people from their homes on the Road Allowance in a way that is accessible to children. 20.12m: A Short Story Collection of Life Lived as Road Allowance Métis by Arnolda Dufour Bowes (winner of the 2021 Danuta Gleed Literary Award) also tells the same story through the eyes of Bowes’ father.
Gabriel Dumont Institute Press also keeps the history of notable figures in the Métis nation, including Gabriel Dumont himself (Red Sun; Gabriel Dumont, La Chef Michif in Images and Words), dance caller Jeanne Pelletier, world famous fiddler John Arcand, and educator Olive Patricia Dickason in the forthcoming Changing Canadian History, among many others. The Institute also has classroom resources for Michif language in their Taanishi Books series, and includes Michif language and Michif narration in all their children’s books.
Call to Action #14 of the TRC calls “upon the federal government to enact an Aboriginal Languages Act that incorporates the following principles:
- Aboriginal languages are a fundamental and valued element of Canadian culture and society, and there is an urgency to preserve them.” The University of Regina Press is working to address this Call to Action with resources designed to preserve and teach Indigeonous languages. In conjunction with the First Nations University of Canada and educators and language keepers like Arok Wolvengrey and Solomon Ratt, URP has created Cree language textbooks and dictionaries. Their efforts and the efforts of others have also led to the creation of First Nations Language Readers in languages like Woods Cree, Naskapi, Lil’wat and more. Their works is detailed in this article from the CBC: Keeping indigenous languages alive
The University of Regina Press has also played a role in helping tell the story of survivors of residential schools in books like The Education of Augie Merasty by Joseph Auguste Merasty and Genocidal Love by Bevann Fox, as well as those who have grown up in the shadows of the effects of residential schools, like Helen Knott’s In My Own Moccasins. University of Regina Press also publishes important works of history, such as James Daschuk’s Clearing the Plains, which expands our understanding of how the impacts of colonialism we still see today were deliberately designed as part of John A. Macdonald’s western expansion. SaskBooks is proud to have supported URP with a subsidy for the production of the audiobook of Clearing the Plains, as well as Harold Johnson’s Firewater.
Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing has aided in the publication of Grandfather’s Reminder by Alberta Rose-Bear and Kathleen O’Reilly, illustrated by Lindsey Bear. Grandfather’s Reminder is a children’s story that tells of traditional values and teaching in Plains Cree and Saulteaux as well as English. SaskBooks has also supported Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing with a subsidy to produce an audiobook of the forthcoming nēhiyawēwin awāsi-masinahikanis: A Plains Cree Language Book for Children.
Éditions de la nouvelle plume, the only Francophone book publisher west of Manitoba, is working to make Indigenous books accessible to French speakers, with a translation of The Three Feathers by Richard Van Camp (Trois Plumes). Éditions de la nouvelle plume has also published Brandy Hanna’s Inuit legend Corneille apporte la lumière in both French and Inuktitut.
Truth and Reconciliation will be a long process in Canada, and the name of the Commission is deliberate: Truth must come before Reconciliation. Although there is still a great deal of difficult work to do towards reconciliation in Canada, SaskBooks is proud to walk beside and support our members as we collectively undertake this journey.