A gentler and less traumatic explanation of the Canadian Residential School System.
Geared toward ages 8-15.
When I finished and was distributing the first zine which delved into the atrocities that occurred in residential schools, I was constantly being asked if it was appropriate for youth to read. I often said likely not as the content is hard and difficult to process even for adults, I was unsure if youth were able to process the information and still feel secure in their own worlds. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely feel that youth should learn and understand the real history of what has occurred on the land they live on, I just didn't want to scar a child because I feel in my heart that childhood innocence is a precious thing, something the Indigenous children in these schools had taken from them so violently.
I began to toss around the idea of a youth version of the first zine that could introduce the history of residential schools but also keep out some of the worst aspects. I felt confident that the parents giving their child a zine about such a difficult topic could gauge if their child could handle further discussion or not and they would elaborate if seen fit.
I thought it would be an easy peasy task, after all, I had already delved deep into the topic in the first zine, all I needed to do was cut a few portions out and reformat it and presto! Surprisingly, it was not that easy. I realized that I had to reformat almost all the language as I couldn't assume that youth would understand the word "trauma" or know what I was talking about when I went to put in the trigger warning. I couldn't assume youth understood the idea of racism or that they really knew who Indigenous people were. I had to break it all down and rebuild a mini zine that could be digested by young minds.
While constantly thinking of how to word difficult content for youth, the reality that I was explaining to youth something awful that had happened to youth, to children really hit home. The full gravity of trying to explain to children something that they wouldn't understand at all if it was happening to them was so heartbreaking. It was during the creating of this zine that I found myself crying uncontrollably and calling my mother asking the question "why?" I know the answer to one of the why's but I don't know if I'll ever really fully understand the real why, this project is in a way my journey to trying to answer that and find some peace.
With Premier Ford axing curriculum that would have included teaching about residential schools it is now up to all of us to learn the real history and not make the same mistakes. Who needs real history and systemic change when we have Buck A Beer eh?!