Residential school reading list

Many of you have asked for a reading list on the topic of residential schools. Ask and ye shall receive. Here’s part of a larger reading list I use.

There are several related topics of course which I recommend people take a look at such as Genocide, Colonization/Decolonization, Indigenous activism, child welfare and Indigenous children, Indigenous people and the Justice system etc. I also highly recommend all of Vine Deloria’s books, Thomas King’s Inconvenient Indian, Richard Wagamese’s book Indian Horse, all of the Research papers compiled by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation at, and the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

This is far more than what most people are expecting but, you can choose what you wish. Besides I had to read them all (and many others 🙂 ) and they are all helpful in one way or another. Good luck:


Barman, Jean and Jan Hare, Good Intentions Gone Awry: Emma Crosby and the Methodist Mission on the Northwest Coast. University of British Columbia Press, 2007.

Cariboo Tribal Council. Impact of the Residential School, Williams Lake, B.C.: 1991.

Chartrand, Larry N., Tricia E. Logan and Judy D. Daniels. Métis History and Experience and Residential Schools in Canada/Histoire et expériences des Métis et les pensionnats au Canada. Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2006.

Deiter, Constance. From Our Mothers’ Arms: The Intergenerational Impact of Residential Schools in Saskatchewan. United Church Publishing House, 1999.

Grant, Agnes. No End of Grief: Indian Residential Schools in Canada. Pemmican, 1996.

Huel, Raymond J.A. Proclaiming the Gospel to the Indians and Métis. University of Alberta Press, 1996.

Jaine, Linda. Residential Schools: The Stolen Years. University of Saskatchewan, University Extension Press, 1993.

King, David. A Brief Report of the Federal Government of Canada’s Residential School System for Inuit/ Bref compte-rendu du Régime du pensionnats pour les Inuit du gouvernement fédéral du Canada. Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2006.

Lascelles, Thomas A. Roman Catholic Indian Residential Schools in British Columbia. Order of OMI in B.C., 1990.

Métis Nation of Alberta. Métis Memories of Residential Schools: A Testament to the Strength of the Metis. Métis Nation of Alberta, 2004.

Miller, J.R., Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native residential schools. University of Toronto, 1996.

Milloy, John S. A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986. University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council. Indian Residential Schools: The Nuu-chah-nulth Experience. Nuu-chah- nulth Tribal Council, 1996.

Young-Ing, Gregory, Jonathan Dewar and Mike De Gagne, eds., Response, Responsibility, and Renewal: Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Journey/ Réponse, responsabilité et renouveau. Cheminement du Canada vers la vérité et la réconciliation. Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2009.

School Histories

Dyck, Noel. Differing Visions: Administering Indian Residential Schooling in Prince Albert, 1867-1967. Fernwood Publishing, 1997.

Furniss, Elizabeth. Victims of Benevolence: The Dark Legacy of the Williams Lake Residential School. Arsenal Pulp Press, 1995.

Glavin, Terry and former students of St. Mary’s. Amongst God’s Own: The Enduring Legacy of St. Mary’s Mission. Longhouse Publishing, 2002.

Graham Elizabeth, ed. The Mush Hole: Life at Two Indian Residential Schools. Heffle Publications, 1997.

Jack, Agnes. Behind Closed Doors: Stories from the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Theytus Books, 2006.

Haig-Brown. Resistance and Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School. Arsenal Pulp Press, 1988.


Ahenakew, Edward. Voices of the Plains Cree. McClelland & Stewart, 1973.

Apakark Thrasher, Anthony. Skid Row Eskimo. Griffin House, 1976.

Blondine-Perrin, Alice. My Heart Shook Like a Drum. Borealis Press, 2009.

Brass, Eleanor. I Walk in Two Worlds. Glenbow Museum, 1987.

Dandurand, Joseph A. Looking into the Eyes of My Forgotten Dreams. Kegedonce Press, 1998.

Ennamorato, Judith. Sing the Brave Song. Raven Press, 1999.

Fontaine, Theodore. Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools: A Memoir. Heritage House, 2010.

French, Alice. My Name is Masak. Peguis, 1976.

Goodwill, Jean and Norma Sluman, eds. John Tootoosis. Pemmican, 1990.

Grant, Agnes. Finding My Talk: How Fourteen Canadian Native Women Reclaimed their Lives after Residential School. Fifth House Books, 2004.


Alexie, Robert Arthur. Porcupines and China Dolls. Stoddart, 2009.

Armstong, Jeannette. Slash, Revised. Theytus Books, 2007.

Boyden, Joseph. Born With a Tooth. Cormorant Books, 2009.

Highway, Thomson. Kiss of the Fur Queen. Doubleday, 1998.

Lakevold Dale, and Racine, Darrell. Misty Lake: A Play. Loon Books, 2006.

Loring, Kevin. Where the Blood Mixes: A Play. Talon Books, 2009

Loyie, Larry and Manuel, Vera. Two Plays About Residential School. Living Traditions, 1998.

Mosionier, Beatrice. In Search of April Raintree. Pemmican, 1999.

Simon, Lorne Joseph. Stones and Switches. Theytus Books, 1994.
International Experiences

Adams, David Wallace, Education for Extinction: American Indians and the Boarding School Experience 1875-1928. University Press of Kansas, 1997.

Bartels, Dennis A. and Alice L. Bartles. When the North Was Red: Aboriginal Education in Soviet Siberia. McGill- Queen’s University Press, 1995.

Child, Brenda J. Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families 1900-1940. University of Nebraska Press, 2000.

Ellis, Clyde. To Change Them Forever: Indian Education at the Rainy Mountain Boarding School, 1893-1920. University of Oklahoma, 1996.

Lomawaima, K. Tsianina. They Called it Prairie Light: The Story of the Chilocco Indian School. University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

For Younger Readers

Campbell, Nicola I., with illustrations by Kim LeFave. Shin-chi’s Canoe. Groundwood/House of Anansi, 2008.

Loyie, Larry, with illustrations by Constance Brissenden. Goodbye Buffalo Bay. Theytus Books, 2009.

Olsen, Sylvia, Rita Morris, and Ann Sam. No Time to Say Goodbye: Children’s Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, Sono Nis Press, 2001

Sterling, Shirley. My Name is Seepeetza. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1993.

Joe, Rita with Lynn Henry. Song of Rita Joe: Autobiography of a Mi’kmaq Poet. Ragweed Press, 1996.

Johnston, Basil H., Indian School Days. Key Porter Books, 1988.

Kennedy, Dan. Recollections of an Assiniboine Chief. McClelland & Stewart, 1972.

Knockwood, Isabelle. Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi’kmaw Children at the Indian Residential School at Shubenacadie, N.S. Roseway Publishing, 1994.

Lawrence, Mary. My People, Myself. Caitlan Press, 1996.

Moran, Bridget. Stoney Creek Woman: The Story of Mary John. Arsenal Pulp Press, 1997.

Willis, Jane. Geniesh: An Indian Girlhood. New Press, 1973.

The Legacy and Reconciliation

Battiste, Marie and Jean Barman, eds. First Nations Education in Canada: The Circle Unfolds. University of British Columbia Press, 1995.

Burnaby, Barbara. Languages and Their Role in Educating Native Children. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education Press, 1980.

Crey, Ernie and Suzanne Fournier. Stolen From Our Embrace: Abduction of First Nation Children and the Restoration of Aboriginal Communities. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997.

Castellano, Marlene Brant, Linda Archibald, and Mike De Gagne, eds. From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools/De la vérité à la réconciliation – Transformer l’héritage des pensionnats. Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2008.

Chrisjohn, Roland and Sherri Young. The Circle Game: Shadows and Substance in the Indian Residential School Experience. Theytus Books, 1997.

Regan, Paulette. Unsettling the Settler Within: Indian Residential Schools, Truth Telling, and Reconciliation in Canada. University of British Columbia Press, 2010.

Schissel, Bernard and Terry Wotherspoon, The Legacy of School for Aboriginal People: Education, Oppression, and Emancipation. Oxford University Press, 2003.

Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair (Author), Warren Cariou (Editor):  Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water – Jan 24 2012

Wadden, Marie. Where the Pavement Ends: Canada’s Aboriginal Recovery Movement and the Urgent Need for Reconciliation. Douglas & McIntyre, 2008.

About Senator Murray Sinclair (retired)

Ojibway Anishinaabe Inini Mizhanagheezhik (n’dizhinikaaz) Namiigoonse (n’dodem) Lawyer, Mediator, Public Speaker Currently Canadian Senator for Manitoba Justice of the Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba (2001-2016) Associate Chief Judge off the Manitoba Provincial Court) (1988-2001) Co-Commissioner of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba) (1988-91) Paediatric Cardiac Surgery Inquiry Judge (1997-2000) Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2009-2015) Thinker, poet, writer, philosopher, speaker.
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17 Responses to Residential school reading list

  1. Elaine Nicholas says:

    I am currently in my 3rd year BA and I am taking a six credit course at the moment. I am having a hard time to read and let it sick in because I am a residential school survivor myself. I just want to leave it in in the past. But I need to heal


  2. jennjilks says:

    Well done. Thank you for this.


  3. Barbara Cameron says:

    Boozhoo Murray, Megwetch for Sharing always ! Stay well and 😊 happy !

    Sent from my iPad



  4. Pingback: Canadians for a New Partnership » Residential school reading list

  5. carin says:

    ‘The Education of Augie Merasty’ is another good choice.


  6. I’m trying to locate what school my Grandmother went to. Her name was Marie Louise Jerome daughter of Pierre or Peter Jerome and Henriette Lavigne she was born in 1882. Any Help?


  7. Pingback: Reconciliation through Reading | Bora Laskin Law Library Reference Services Blog

  8. Greetings! Chi-miigwetch for this post! I will definitely be adding some of these to my library. I am currently reading Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native residential schools and the TRC’s report Canada’s Residential Schools:The History, Part 1. I was a little star struck when I realized that you were the chair of the commission!


  9. Pingback: Recommended Reading for Treaty People | Church of the Holy Trinity

  10. sheryl says:

    Hello Senator Sinclair. I have been having a hard time for a long time. My Dad and most of my Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents went to residential school, I can’t believe how it’s affected my whole life. I’d like to do some healing, live a good life and make my Dad proud (he passed away). Can you recommend a book or two for me? Thank you so much. I really appreciate you and everything you do.


  11. sheryl says:


    My Dad and many of my Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents (friends, ancestors) went to residential school. It’s affected my whole being. Dad passed away and it’s really hard. I’d like to heal and live a good life in his honour. Is there a book or two you could recommend? Thank you so much. Love and appreciation for who you are and all you do.


    • There is no single book that will answer all questions. The TRC Final Report addresses a lot of them, but its 6,000 pages long in 7 volumes. The summary Report, “They Came for the Children”, available in Canadian bookstores such as Chapters or McNally’s sets out the history in shortened form, but if you are looking for an understanding of what Survivors experienced and recovered, take a look at Survivors Speak in the TRC Series. You should be able to download it from the website of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.


  12. Pingback: Residential School Reading List – Miss. Solidarity

  13. Marian Bilkowski says:

    Thank you very much for these information ,It will help those that really needed it the most,and it makes easy this way you put it out n public for those that really needed it to read it for healings .also moving forward.. Amen! thank God for some that barely made .thank you Senator Sinclair


  14. fredamodeste says:

    I believe the criminal genocide began in the 1500’s involving priests and bishops. The Popes since then referred to north american natives as “not human” as a means of justifying criminal activities..and turning a blind eye to atrocities. I imagine Pope Francis feels this all falls on his shoulders and unfair judgement..I just can’t imagine and believe the ignorance of people in places of authority..but the truth sets you the bible days..amen..


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