From the Editor: Shining a Light on Great Books – Spring 2022


Although our focus has shifted away from Canada in recent weeks as we tune into the news from Europe, issues here at home continue to be important. One such issue is the need for awareness about residential schools and their ongoing impact on Indigenous Peoples across Canada. This is such an emotional topic that careful planning and sensitive resources are necessary for classroom discussions. A new release from Nimbus Publishing, entitled Muinji’ j Asks Why: The Story of the Mi’ kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School is such a resource. Based on Muinji’j’s experience, the story is told by Muinji’j and Shankika MacEachern with illustrations by Mi’kmaw artist Zeta Paul. Together, they tell what happened when Muinji’j came home from school upset by the information about residential schools her teacher was telling the class—information that didn’t match what Muinji’j had heard from her grandparents. Knowing that it was time for Muinji’j to hear the whole story, her grandparents sit her down to explain. Gently, but not shying away from difficult information, they begin by talking about how the Mi’kmaq lived before contact with Europeans and how things changed when settlers arrived from Europe and made their homes in what is now called Nova Scotia. They tell the history of attempts to assimilate Mi’kmaq people into a new way of living and of the decision to remove children from their families and place them in residential schools to force them to forget their Indigenous culture. They talk about children dying far from home and about how difficult it was for survivors to return to their communities at age 16 after spending years at the school being told that their culture was wrong.

This story will be a difficult one to share with young students, and, like Muinji’j, they will have many questions. Be sure to be well prepared when you decide to explore the story of residential schools in your classroom.


Diana Mumford
Diana is the Editor at Canadian Teacher Magazine.

This article is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Spring 2022 issue.

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