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Learning resources about Residential Schools provided to local schools by Red Road Compass

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Residential schools and the impact that they have on the Indigenous people of our country is a dark part of national history that Canadians have had to come to terms with, trying to find ways to heal from it
socially and culturally as well as learn from the egregious mistakes of decades worth of Canada’s leaders.
One tool that is being used to heal is the federals grants from Commemorating the History and Legacy of Residential Schools, provided through Canadian Heritage. The funding is intended to increase awareness and commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools, honour residential school survivors,
their families and communities, and provide an opportunity for survivors, families and communities to share their stories and advance intergenerational healing and reconciliation.
A partnership between Red Road Compass and the Elbert Chartrand Friendship Centre (ECFC) has allowed
some of this funding to benefit Swan River and area. Using these dollars, a bundle of books – that help
teachers teach and students learn about the sensitive but historically and culturally important topic of residential schools – will be donated to each Swan Valley School Division school, as well as some others
that fall into the catchment area of the ECFC.
“We are going to be donating textbooks, education resources and teacher support resources so they can increase the resources they have in their libraries right now,” said Red Road Compass Owner Shawn
Charlebois, who operates the Indigenous land-based education organization with a local consulting team.
Each school – as well as the public library – will be receiving gradeappropriate books that will teach about the impacts of residential schools, whether through a history textbook, non-fiction, novella or children’s picture book. Charlebois ordered the books through an Indigenous-owned publishing house in British Columbia. He noted that these resources complement the teaching that already takes place in the public
school system, particularly through the Orange Shirt Day initiative. 
“This is our way of giving back to the community, providing important resources to service providers, community leaders, community members and students so that they can expand their knowledge about the impacts of residential schools and recognize the challenges that we see in our communities,” he said,
adding that there is a ripple effect that comes as a consequence of the residential schools that contributes to social and cultural issues that can be seen and felt by everyone, Indigenous or non-Indigenous.
“I believe that our teachers are doing their best, but I really believe that it warrants more attention. 
This is a way to help those educators do their jobs and give people access to resources that they need to have a better understanding. “It saddens me that this initiative is so attached to a dark part of our Canadian history, but the reality is that it exists, it’s not going away and we have a moral and ethical responsibility to know more and share what we can about the impact of residential schools and the ripple effect it plays in our communities.” 
In addition to the donation of bundles of books, Charlebois has also been working with an Indigenous artist based in Edmonton – formerly of Dauphin – who will be designing and crafting a blanket that will represent the impacts of residential schools. Charlebois’s hope is that this blanket will circulate between
local schools and hang on a wall for a time to serve as a visual reminder. “There will be a plaque that will go with it and stay at the schools (once the blanket has moved on),” he said. “Red Road Compass, in
consultation with some of the elders in our communities, will have some conversations with teachers, staff and students to expand on the imagery, what it means and why we put it there.
“Like any art piece that represents hardship, this will be emotionally charged, but also presents hope  because we are working through this darkness and finding that there is major improvement in our communities and this intergenerational trauma we have identified in many cases is getting better for some. It also recognizes that we have a responsibility to identify and implement the recommendations
from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.” 
Charlebois’s hope is that people will learn from these resources being donated and set them on a path of wanting to make a change in their community. “I am honoured to be able to donate through Red Road Compass, through the ECFC and through Heritage Canada,” he concluded.

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Jeremy Bergen
REPORTER
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