Author Archives: Alex Noudelman

4 Orange Shirt Day Books about Residential Schools in Canada

Orange Shirt Day, which takes place on September 30, is an annual event that started in 2013.  The day was inspired by Phyllis Webstad who, at the age of six, was stripped of her new orange shirt on her first day at St. Joseph Mission residential school.  The purpose of this day is to educate people and promote awareness about the Indian residential school system and the impact this system had on Indigenous communities for more than a century in Canada.

Below is a list of books about the Residential School System in Canada and its impact on FNMI communities:

1. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

The story takes place in late 1950s Ontario, where eight-year-old Saul Indian Horse is torn from his Ojibway family and committed to one of Canada’s notorious Catholic Residential Schools. In this oppressive environment, Saul is denied the freedom to speak his language or embrace his Indigenous culture and he witnesses and experiences all kinds of abuse at the hands of the very people who were entrusted with his care. Despite this, Saul finds salvation in the unlikeliest of places and the most favourite of Canadian pastimes — hockey.


2. Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

Stolen Words

The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again.


3. I am Not a Number by Jenny Kay Dupuis

I am not a number

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene’s parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again.


4. Dear Canada: These Are My Words by Ruby Slipperjack


Violet Pesheens is struggling to adjust to her new life at residential school. She misses her Grandma; she has run-ins with Cree girls; at her “white” school, everyone just stares; and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name — she is now just a number.But worst of all, she is afraid of forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishnabe language, the names of those she knew before and her traditional customs. A fear of forgetting who she was.


Canada systematically forced kids into residential schools – forbidden to speak their language or practice their culture. So how should teachers talk to our kids about it?

We need to take time to learn about what happened. Schools play an important role in creating and sustaining a change in the attitude of all Canadians to the positive relationship that must exist between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Canada. The following article, written in Maclean’s magazine, provides a good overview of how the topic of residential schools can be taught in schools today, with links to resiliency learning. Despite this, teaching Aboriginal history of Canada must also go beyond the residential school system. Positive contributions of Inuit, First Nations and Metis should also be taught, whether it is the story of runner Tom Longboat or the celebrated paintings of Kenojuak Ashevak etc. It is essential that we combine every negative event with a positive one so that our attitudes toward FNMI change.


Progressive Conservatives & Sex Ed Curriculum Debate in Ontario

Relationship expert Jessica O’Reilly analyzes Doug Ford’s decision to revert to Sex Ed Curriculum from 1998:

Upon election, Premier Doug Ford mandated that Ontario students be taught the province’s 20-year-old sex-education curriculum starting September, 2018, while his government consults tens of thousands of parents on developing a new program. The 2015 health curriculum is being scrapped because Ford feels that parents were not properly consulted prior to implementation. He also argues that some of the topics are not age appropriate for children.

Critics have stated the old version of the curriculum from 20 years ago did not include many modern themes that children need to keep themselves safe online (e.g., cyberbullying, sexting) and did not address things like same-sex marriage, which is legal.

The modernized curriculum included warnings about online bullying and sexting that were not in the previous version, and also discussed same-sex marriage, gender identity among other important things.

The PCs have yet to comment about the types of topics their new curriculum will entail. The Ontario Public School Boards’ Association said they have yet to receive any direction from the Tory government on the issue. With September being a little over a month away, this move by the Ontario government is creating outrage and confusion among teachers, students, parents, and education advocates alike.

I will keep you informed as new developments arise.

6 Questions for Developing Critical Thinking

Here is a list of questions to ask yourself when someone has something to say or when you are reading something in a book, newspaper, magazine etc. Thank you to Andrew Powell of Montreal, Quebec, Canada for sharing.6-critical-thinking-questions

Students in the 21st century struggle to do simple arithmetic and readily confuse concepts.

Although technology may be of great help to these students…. As the world continues to shift to a “knowledge-based” economy and paradigm, those with the most advanced critical thinking skills will rise to the top and dominate their class and will be rewarded. To be part of this paradigm, I suggest THINKING THROUGH THINGS a little more deeply, seeking the distinctions that make a difference and ASKING better “critical” questions. I hope this infographic can get you on the right track.

International Human Rights Day – December 10, 2017

Every so often a thing comes to pass that is of such astounding importance that we must stand up and recognize it. We must place this thing on the pedestal it deserves, and ensure that the precepts and policies put in place by it are adhered to, appreciated, and spread as far as the human voice will carry. Such is the sort of message sent by Human Rights Day.

History of Human Rights Day

December 10 is Human Rights Day, a United Nations (UN) campaign that calls for people to know and push for their rights no matter where they are in the world.

Human Rights Day was established in 1948. Ever since this auspicious day, it has stood as the first major stride forward in ensuring that the rights of every human across the globe are protected. From the most basic human needs such as food, shelter, and water, all the way up to access to free and uncensored information, such has been the goals and ambitions laid out that day.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was a shout across the world by the leading countries in the world, stating loud and clear that no matter where we live, what we believe, or how we love, we are each individually deserving of the most basic fundamentals of human needs. Every year Human Rights Day marks conferences around the world dedicated to ensuring that these ideals are pursued, and that the basic Human Rights of every person is made a priority in the global theater.

History of Human Rights

Originally, people had rights only because of their membership in a group, such as a family. Then, in 539 BC, Cyrus the Great, after conquering the city of Babylon, did something totally unexpected—he freed all slaves to return home. Moreover, he declared people should choose their own religion. The Cyrus Cylinder, a clay tablet containing his statements, is the first human rights declaration in history.

The idea of human rights spread quickly to India, Greece and eventually Rome. The most important advances since then have included:

1215: The Magna Carta—gave people new rights and made the king subject to the law.

1628: The Petition of Right—set out the rights of the people.

1776: The United States Declaration of Independence—proclaimed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1789: The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen—a document of France, stating that all citizens are equal under the law.

1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights—the first document listing the 30 rights to which everyone is entitled.

After WWII, when the world witnessed the Holocaust and the murder 6 million Jews, the newly formed United Nations came up with document to ensure basic human rights of any person living in the world would not  be revoked or violated.

How to Celebrate Human Rights Day
The best way to celebrate Human Rights Day is to take some time to appreciate the effect that this resolution has had on your world and life. Look around your neighborhood and see the effects on a local scale, the charitable works being done to promote the health and well-being of those who are less fortunate.

The next step is to get out there and make a difference, whether it’s simply making a donation to one of the dozens of organizations that work towards this global purpose, or organizing a donation drive of your own to help out those organizations fighting the good fight.

Don’t think that your gestures have to be grand, simply gathering enough to put together a bunch of care packages of simple needs and necessities and handing them out amongst your local homeless can go a long way to helping to support this cause. The need is large, but is made of limitless minor actions that can lead to a world-wide change in quality of life.


To view the declaration in its entirety click here.