What We've Read

Below you can find the questions we used to guide our discussions and the way we structured our meetings.


What we've read so far:
  All 10 volumes of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report
  Executive Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's report
  My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell by Arthur Bear Chief

My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell

book spread My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell
My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell is a simple and outspoken account of the sexual and psychological abuse that Arthur Bear Chief suffered during his time at Old Sun Residential school in Gleichen on the Siksika Nation. In a series of chronological vignettes, Bear Chief depicts the punishment, cruelty, abuse, and injustice that he endured at Old Sun and then later relived in the traumatic process of retelling his story in connection with a lawsuit brought against the federal government. Arthur returned to Gleichen, Alberta late in life and it was there that he began to reconnect with Blackfoot language and culture and to write his story. Although the terrific adversity Bear Chief faced in his childhood made an indelible mark on his life, his unyielding spirit is evident throughout his story.
Arthur Bear Chief left Old Sun Residential School at the age of seventeen. He worked as a student counsellor at Shingwauk Indian Residential School as a young man before embarking on a career with the government, which included work with the Public Service Commission of Canada in Edmonton and Northern Affairs in Ottawa. He now lives on the Siksika Nation.
Buy a print copy from RISE at one of their local events, borrow a copy from the library, or purchase one at one of these locations: Edmonton Public Library / AudreysAmazon / Indigo / Barnes & Noble

Reading of TRC Executive Summary

Schedule and Outline for Discussion

Meeting 1: Introductory Meeting

Get to know one another—why are we here, what do we want to learn
  • Talk about what the expectations are
  • Agree to a format for each session
  • Answer any questions
  • Hand out copies of the book

Meeting 2: TRC History and Context

Read Preface, Introduction, and Commission Activities to Page 35
  • What was something you found surprising?
  • What is your important take away from this section?
  • What is the connection to your work?

Meeting 3: Global Context, Survivor Testimony, and Naming

Read History to end of The Road to Closure, 1969 to Page 70
  • What is something new you learned about colonization?
  • What survivor testimony stood out for you most?
  • What historical names stood out for you? How are these people honoured/remembered?

Meeting 4: Student and Staff Experiences

Read History from The School Experience to Page 133
  • What would have been some of the generational effects for Indigenous people?
  • What are some of the hopeful/positive experiences?
  • What impacts, positive and negative, could staff have on the experience?

Meeting 5: Contemporary Impact, Legal and Moral Burdens for Canadians

Read The Legacy to Page 182
  • What are moral obligations Canadians have to address the intergenerational effects?
  • What are doing professionally to address these effects?
  • What are you doing personally to address these effects?

Meeting 6: UNDRIP and Acts of Reconciliation

Read The Challenge of Reconciliation to Page 317
  • How will UNDRIP impact Canada/Canadians?
  • How will we know when we have reached reconciliation in Canada?
  • What is your personal commitment of reconciliation?

TRC Report

When: February 2016 to December 2016, 2nd Wednesday of each month, 6:00-8:00 PM

Where: Kinross Room, Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre (2nd Flr, 10440-108 Ave, Edmonton)


Reading Outline

10 February    Welcome Circle, Review Plan and Purpose, Get to Know Each Other

9 March           Volume 1, Part 1: Beginning to end of The Student as Labourer (≅400 pages)

13 April            Volume 1, Part 1: Recreation and Sport to end (≅400 pages)

11 May             Volume 1, Part 2: Beginning to end of Diet & Nutrition (≅300 pages)

8 June               Volume 1, Part 2: Fire Hazard to end (≅300 pages)

13 July              Volume 2: The Inuit and Northern Experience (266 pages)

10 August        Volume 3: The Métis Experience (88 pages)

14 September Volume 4: Missing Children and Unmarked Burials (272 pages)

12 October      Volume 5: The Legacy (392 pages)

9 November    Volume 6: Reconciliation (296 pages)

14 December  Closing Circle & Celebration


Support Resources

Talk to your friends and family about how you're feeling and the reactions you're having. Be open and honest with those who care about you so that they can support you in the ways that you need to be supported.


There are also trained health support workers available specifically for dealing with the trauma of residential schools. These supports are not only for survivors of residential schools but for everyone who has been affected by the schools: every Canadian. You can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.


The City of Edmonton also has counselling services available. They offer short term counselling and referrals to local supports. Many of the social workers who work in this program were specifically trained for the TRC event in Edmonton and have a deep understanding of residential schools. They can be reached Monday to Friday 8:30-4:30 at 780-496-4777.

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