Our Ongoing Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation
Revised January, 2023
Our Ongoing Commitment to Truth and Reconciliation
In 2008, the federal government began the Truth and Reconciliation process with a formal apology to the Survivors of residential schools, their family members, and their communities. Around this time, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. Chaired by the Honourable Murray Sinclair, the Commission conducted hearings across the country to collect close to 7,000 stories and statements about the experiences and impacts of residential schools, with the ultimate goal of facilitating reconciliation. The final TRC report was published in 2015, and it included 94 Calls to Actions outlining ways that Canadians can move forward. Call 92 is aimed at the private sector and is directly applicable to Scholastic Canada.
Here are some actions that we have taken so far on our journey toward reconciliation:
In 2016, Scholastic Education Canada formed an Indigenous-led Advisory Team to inform and create learning resources in support of Truth and Reconciliation. Take Action for Reconciliation (2018) is made up of four magazine-style student books and teaching support that focus on Indigenous communities across Canada, the need for reconciliation, and the actions people are taking to make a difference. Implementation of this resource has been widespread from school boards and educators across the country.
In 2022, in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we launched a new webpage offering free articles and discussion prompts for parents and teachers taken from this classroom resource. The site is available in both English and French, and the full discussion guide can also be downloaded from there.
Our Publishing team has been working on a number of incredible new books by Indigenous authors and illustrators! Here are a few highlights from our growing list of Indigenous titles in a variety of genres:
Smile So Big (Spring ’23): Another incredible Sunshine Quem Tenasco–Chief Lady Bird collaboration (Nibi’s Water Song), Smile So Big is a picture book bursting with joy. In the story, a magic mirror reminds characters to see all their beauty, from their round cheeks and bright, sparkly eyes to their braids and textured hair. It’s a love letter to Indigenous kids in all their diversity—and an affirming book for every child. In Chief Lady Bird’s words: “This book matters because Indigenous children may face discrimination and as a result not feel ‘good enough’ or even ‘Native enough.’ Sunshine and I want to show them that they are enough. They’re more than enough. The children are our future and it is necessary that we uplift them and build a foundation of self-esteem and self-love so they can grow and learn and be healthy (physically, mentally and spiritually). The magic depicted in this book is directly inspired by the ways culture and teachings manifest within us and around us to help us create our own unique identities.”
Autumn Bird and the Runaway: Released in July 2022, Autumn Bird and the Runaway made McNally Robinson’s Bestselling Books for Kids list, September 11-21. A contemporary urban middle grade novel told in alternating voices by Melanie Florence and Richard Scrimger, Autumn Bird and the Runaway is a story about two kids from different worlds whose unexpected friendship is a lens to explore identity and compassion. Returning home from a movie one evening, Autumn, who is Indigenous, comes across Cody, who is White, face down in the laneway behind her house. All Cody knows is that he can’t take another beating from his father like the one he just narrowly escaped. And Autumn knows she won’t turn her back on someone in need. Over the next couple of days of Autumn giving Cody shelter and sneaking him food and bandages, his story comes out. And so does hers. Insightful, funny, heartbreaking and heart opening, Autumn Bird and the Runaway reminds us that we are all more than our circumstances, and we are all more connected than we think.
We also produced a read-along ebook of both English and French editions of Robert Munsch and Jay Odjick’s Bear for Breakfast/Makwa kidji kijebà wìsiniyàn, with audio in English, French and Anishinaabemowin, and are planning to release more picture books in Indigenous languages beginning with Nibi’s Water Song/Nibi a soif, très soif next year.
Recently, four of our well-loved Robert Munsch books were translated into nêhiyawêwin (Cree) and denesųłıné (Dene) as part of a project to help revitalize Indigenous languages. This includes Blackflies, which was illustrated by Algonquin artist Jay Odjick. This is in addition to many other Indigenous language translations of Munsch books we have assisted with over the past several years.
We have been focusing on sourcing and purchasing more books by and about Indigenous Peoples for our Reading Clubs and Book Fairs, and have expressed the need for these books to the publishers we work with. To meet the needs of our customers in finding these books, we’ve created and filled collections on our flyers, cases, and websites for Indigenous Stories and Creators.
Scholarships for Indigenous students
Scholastic Canada is a member firm of the Canadian Publishers’ Council (CPC) and an active contributor to the Council’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force. In July 2022, the CPC announced a partnership with Indspire to provide scholarships to Indigenous students enrolled in post-secondary education programs across Canada. Through this partnership, 10 students will receive a scholarship of $5,000 and we will also be working to raise awareness of employment opportunities in the publishing field so that we can diversify the workforce of our sector in Canada.
In our ’21-’22 fiscal year, Scholastic Canada donated 37,073 books and activity kits to First Nations, Métis and Inuit schools, organizations and communities across the country. These donations were made through our Corporate Donations and Classrooms Care programs.
Organized by our internal DEI Committee, many of our employees have participated in an online course called Indigenous Awareness. We are continuing to expand our training offerings for employees in this area.
In addition, we are developing an internal Indigeneity Style Guide that promotes awareness and offers guidance on how to use language as consciously and respectfully as possible. The guide draws upon the knowledge and labour of many First Nations, Métis and Inuit writers, editors and subject-matter experts, and includes guiding principles, key terminology, background information, usage notes, spelling and style notes, and links to resources for further learning. As a centralized resource, it will support our teams with knowledge and capacity building, communications, and consistency.