Resources to better understand our country’s past and present

In order for us to create a truly inclusive country, we need to understand how our past impacts our present. Learning these hard truths about our own history of oppression is an important first step in working towards reconciliation and building an inclusive and loving country for everyone.

Below are many resources to help us on this journey. Please note, these resources primarily address the impact on racialized and Indigenous people across Canada. We would like to acknowledge these are not the only groups who have faced or are facing oppressive policies.

Indigenous Experiences:

1. The Community Sector Council and Unama’ki College’s Decolonization Learning series

You can view all of the webinars online. The sessions are categorized into 4 series:

  • Series 1: Pre-Contact & Early History
  • Series 2: Indigenous Rights, Residential Schools, Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and Two-Eyed Seeing
  • Series 3: Mi’kmaw Governance, Education, and Language
  • Series 4: Now What – Incorporating Reconciliation Learning into Our Work and Everyday Lives

If we were to recommend one, we could recommend: Residential Schools: One Person’s Story of Survival with Elder Margaret Poulette & Rosie Sylliboy

Indian Residential schools operated in Canada from 1831 until 1996. An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their homes and forced to attend these schools. In this webinar, Residential School Survivor, Elder Margaret Poulette will share her first-hand story of what it was like to attend one of these schools. Margaret Poulette, Elder, Residential School Survivor and Rosie Sylliboy,Manager, Mawita’mk & Margaret’s Daughter

2. We Were Children (Documentary, $2.95 rental on NFB)

In this feature film, the profound impact of the Canadian government’s residential school system is conveyed through the eyes of two children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. As young children, Lyna and Glen were taken from their homes and placed in church-run boarding schools, where they suffered years of physical, sexual and emotional abuse, the effects of which persist in their adult lives. We Were Children gives voice to a national tragedy and demonstrates the incredible resilience of the human spirit.

3. Residential Schools in Canada a timeline

The history of residential schools in Canada can be traced as far back as the 17th century. Watch the “Residential Schools in Canada Timeline” video to learn about the significant dates in its history — from the landing of Jesuits in what is now known as Quebec, to the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s final report in 2015

4. 7 ways to support Indigenous people grieving in the wake of news about 215 children. Non-Indigenous people- here’s what you can do, right now. This article is a call to action list, detailing 7 steps that non-indigenous people can take right now, including suggestions for donations, resources, calling on elected officials, community actions, etc.

5. A Day to Listen: Wednesday June 30th   

6am – 6pm (local time) on Wednesday, June 30 on radio stations across Canada

In recognition of National Indigenous History Month, Bell Media, Corus Entertainment Inc., Rogers Sports & Media, Stingray Radio, and more, join together in an unprecedented collaboration to amplify, elevate, listen to, and learn from Indigenous voices with A DAY TO LISTEN. In partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF), A DAY TO LISTEN is dedicated to sharing stories from Indigenous leaders, residential school survivors, elders, musicians, and teachers throughout the day. The collaboration follows the public announcement that the remains of 215 children were buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School and growing numbers of children at former residential school sites across Canada. With more than 400 radio stations participating, spanning different markets, regions, and formats, A DAY TO LISTEN aims to leverage the power of radio to enact real change and begin to set a course for a more equitable future. The mission of DWF is to create a pathway towards reconciliation, and to improve the lives of Indigenous people by building awareness, education, and connections between all Canadians.

6. Telling our Twisted Histories– CBC Podcast

CBC announced the launch of TELLING OUR TWISTED HISTORIES, an 11-episode podcast series that reclaims Indigenous history by exploring 11 words whose meanings have been twisted by centuries of colonization. Host Kaniehti:io Horn (LetterkennyThe Man in the High Castle) guides listeners through conversations with more than 70 people from 15 Indigenous communities whose lands now make up Quebec, New Brunswick and Labrador. The first two episodes of TELLING OUR TWISTED HISTORIES – “Discovery” and “Reserve”- are available now on CBC Listen and everywhere podcasts are available. New episodes will be released weekly on Mondays until August 2, 2021. Listen for free on CBC Listen, available as a free app for iOS and Android devices and online at

7. National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and GirlsReclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

The National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people. The two volume report calls for transformative legal and social changes to resolve the crisis that has devastated Indigenous communities across the country.

8. Native Women’s Association of Canada. NWAC Actional Plan: Our Calls Our Actions

NWAC’s Action Plan to end the attack against Indigenous Women, Girls and Gender-Diverse People.

Black Canadian Experiences:

1. CSC Black History Learning Journey Series:

Series 1: From Past to Present: The History & Legacy of Black Nova Scotians

The first series of our learning journey began with a comprehensive history of people of African Descent in Nova Scotia. For over 400 years, African Nova Scotians have been in this province and have helped shape the cultural mosaic of Nova Scotia and Canada.

The series examines:

  • Slavery in the province;
  • The landing of the Black Loyalists and their connection with Mi’kmaw people;
  • The Shelburne race riot, the first recorded race riot in North America;
  • Black Nova Scotians contributing to and building many iconic Nova Scotian landmarks like Citadel Hill, Halifax City Hall, and the Fortress of Louisburg;
  • Segregation and early anti-Black policies and laws;
  • Broken promises, resistance, displacement and mass migration; and
  • The long-lasting effects of generational trauma

The series concluded with a suite of facilitators discussing how we continue to see the impacts of systemic anti-Black racism today on health, education, housing, employment, and social services. Watch the recordings below for an insightful series exploring the history and legacy of Black Nova Scotians, and using the past to inform the future.

If we suggest one in particular, it might be nice to focus on The Legacy of Slavery.

2. Journey to Justice NFB Documentary 

This documentary pays tribute to a group of Canadians who took racism to court. They are Canada’s unsung heroes in the fight for Black civil rights. Focusing on the 1930s to the 1950s, this film documents the struggle of 6 people who refused to accept inequality. Featured here, among others, are Viola Desmond, a woman who insisted on keeping her seat at the Roseland movie theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia in 1946 rather than moving to the section normally reserved for the city’s Black population, and Fred Christie, who took his case to the Supreme Court after being denied service at a Montreal tavern in 1936. These brave pioneers helped secure justice for all Canadians. Their stories deserve to be told.

3. Recognizing Slavery’s Legacy of Racism in the Time of COVID-19 CRRF Webinar

Fireside Chat featuring Chiamaka MọgọBoard Member, Canadian Race Relations Foundation & Public Policy Professional Natasha Henry, President, Ontario Black History Society. One of the greatest crimes against humanity till date has been the transatlantic slave trade. It is not just a reference to a dark period in human history, but the reality that we still continue to live with its shameful legacies. In particular, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed those legacies, including racism, inequality, and systemic racism of people of African descent across the globe. To mark August 23 as a day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, Chiamaka and Natasha discuss this shameful legacy and focus on how COVID-19 has exacerbated the social, political, economic and health conditions that are linked to structural racism, thereby causing people of African descent to suffer disproportionately. Drawing clear links between the transatlantic slave trade and on-going structural racism faced by the Black community, the panelists will also discuss what we can do to eradicate anti-Black racism and promote equity for this community.

4. Nova Scotia’s hot housing market puts pressure on a historically Black community CBC Video- Great Local video with historic and current context (This video was written and produced by the first ever African Nova Scotian film unit at CBC)

Residents of a Black Nova Scotian community outside Halifax feel their community is losing its character due to a hot housing market and increased development. In the first of a two-part series, the CBC’s Kyah Sparks explores the history of Upper Hammonds Plains and the community’s latest challenge.

5. Black History Timeline– The Canadian Encyclopedia

Interactive timeline of Black history in Canada.

Chinese and Japanese Canadian Experiences:

1. In the Shadow of Gold Mountain  Documentary film NFB

Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. Through a combination of history, poetry and raw emotion, this documentary sheds light on an era that shaped the identity of generations.

If you want to know more about our country’s past of anti-Asian policies and practices, check out this interactive timeline.

2. CCDI recorded webinar from May 15, 2020: The intersection of race, mental health & stigma in the age of COVID-19

This webinar examines the compounding mental health and workplace impacts of COVID-19 towards diverse employees, with a focus on individuals of East-Asian and Indigenous backgrounds. The webinar includes opportunities, responsibilities and tips that employers and organizations can consider to reduce race-based micro-aggressions and mental health stigma targeted towards diverse employees, clients and stakeholders

3. A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year Into the Covid-19 Pandemic

4. The Canadian Encyclopedia: Chinese Canadians

5. The Canadian Encyclopedia: Japanese Canadians

6. Facing Injustice: The Relocation of Japanese Canadians to Manitoba  – CBC documentary After unearthing the truth about their family history, Japanese Canadians who were relocated to rural Manitoba during the Second World War seek justice. Narrated by David Suzuki.

Additional experiences:

1. Racism: Problems and Solutions Video Series Canadian Race Relations Foundation

These are a series of videos highlighting the personal stories of individuals who have dealt with racism and discrimination. The series is intended to inspire conversation and generate support for continued advocacy. These documentary style videos highlight stories advocating for a more equitable Canada featuring heroes who have broken new ground in their views and achieved experiences that are worth sharing.

2. What is the government doing about Islamophobia in Canada? Here’s what we know Global News Article 

3. Unmasking Racism: What are we going to do about it? CBC Jem documentary

Join CBC Vancouver’s Lien Yeung and Angela Sterritt for a virtual townhall about systemic racism in the workplace, the media and in day-to-day interactions, and explore solutions that will make B.C. a more inclusive province

4. The Language of Dance is Universal CBC Gem Facebook post.

A group of new immigrants and Indigenous peoples meeting for the first time and discovering they share many of the same traditional dance moves is one of our favourites moments of this doc. Behind the Bhangra Boys, which follows the Maritime Bhangra Group along their journey of joyful activism, is streaming for free on CBC Gem

5. Immigration in Canada The Canadian Encyclopedia 

The movement of individuals of one country into another for the purpose of resettlement is central to Canadian history. The story of Canadian immigration is not one of orderly population growth; instead, it has been — and remains one — about economic development as well as Canadian attitudes and values. It has often been unashamedly economically self-serving and ethnically or racially discriminatory despite contributing to creating a multicultural society (see Immigration Policy in CanadaRefugees to Canada). Immigration has also contributed to dispossessing Indigenous peoples of their ancestral lands.

6. George Strombolopolous Tonight: Not Wanted Here – Some Of The Groups Canada Excluded From Full Citizenship

7. The Coast: On the question of “Where are you really from?”