District Highlights

#FridayReads: Books to support learning about Red Dress Day

SD42 Aboriginal support worker Melinda Mouland and c̓əsqənelə Elementary teacher-librarian Janet Smith recommend A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell (K-5), Missing Nimama by Melanie Florence (Gr. 5+) and Highway of Tears by Jessica McDiarmid (Gr. 11+) in honour of Red Dress Day.

Red Dress Day is held every May 5th to remember and honour the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited people across Canada. Red dresses are displayed in public spaces to raise awareness and serve as a visual reminder of the violence and the lives lost.

After a conversation with Alysha Collie, a Coast Salish artist and educational storyteller, c̓əsqənelə Elementary began teaching and learning around Red Dress Day with increasing bravery, honesty and intention. Alysha helped us understand the lingering brutal effects of Canada’s colonial racism and genocide from the female perspective. 

This topic can be addressed with care in all grades, from K to 12. In the early grades, we can begin by teaching about the importance of loving and caring for each other and connecting to family and community. We suggest A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell for students in K-5 to support this learning.

Teaching about systemic racism and the ongoing effects of the residential school system in the intermediate grades and high school can lead to learning and understanding of more complicated topics such as gender-based violence and femicide. These are topics many adults do not fully understand as they were not included in our own education. 

For students in Grade 5 and higher, we suggest Missing Nimama by Melanie Florence and for those in Grade 11 or 12, we suggest Highway of Tears (eBook on Sora) by Jessica McDiarmid. Both these books should be used with supports available for anyone who may be triggered by their content.

We also recommend that all adults read Jessica McDiarmid’s Highway of Tears to grow their own understanding.

Please use these books with care and in collaboration and consultation with your Aboriginal resource teacher.

SD42 Aboriginal support worker Melinda Mouland and c̓əsqənelə Elementary teacher-librarian Janet Smith hold up "A Day with Yayah" by Nicola I. Campbell, "Missing Nimama" by Melanie Florence, and "Highway of Tears" by Jessica McDiarmid.

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