Orange Shirt Day

Orange Shirt Day is a commemoration every year on September 30th for the survivors of Residential Schools and their families, as well as a time for settlers to reflect on how relationships with Indigenous peoples might be improved. Founded by Phyllis Webstad, a survivor from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation, it remembers that Phyllis wanted to bring an orange shirt with her to the Mission School but was not allowed to do so as it was not permitted with the uniform.

As a library serving pre-service teachers, we want to encourage everyone to reflect on the responsibilities of educators on Turtle Island to support and empower Indigenous students in their cultural, linguistic and social achievements. In support of this, we wish to highlight some materials from our collection that may help with this reflection process and that educators may wish to bring into their classrooms or to their communities.

The cover of Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis WebstadThe Orange Shirt Story by Phyllis Webstad details the story of the author’s experiences and tells the story of the Orange Shirt from her perspective. When Phyllis arrived at Residential School, she was not allowed to wear her favourite orange shirt and it was taken away from her. This is the story of the events that inspired Orange Shirt Day. Teachers may also find lesson plans for the Orange Shirt Story from the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation here.

The cover of Residential Schools by Larry LoyieResidential schools : with the words and images of survivors by Larry Loyie with Wayne K. Spear, Constance Brissenden is a collection of accounts and images by survivors of Residential Schools, in their own words. Featuring the words and lives of 125 survivors, this resource seeks to create a dialogue with survivors about their experiences, healing and the future of Indigenous Education.

Residential schools : truth and reconciliation in Canada (educator’s package) Archival photograph of Indigenous students inside a Residential School classroomfrom McIntyre Media is a package of videos including an address to educators from Justice Murray Sinclair, Marie Wilson and former Prime Minister Paul Martin. It is meant as a call to action and reflection for educators as they move along the journey towards learning and relationship with Indigenous peoples. This video package is only accessible to OISE and UofT students, faculty and staff.

The cover of Finding my Talk by Agnes GrantFinding my talk : how fourteen Native women reclaimed their lives after residential school edited and collected by Agnes Grant is a collection of Indigenous women’s experiences as they reflect on surviving Residential Schools and their lives afterwards. It focuses on how these Indigenous women resisted settler colonialism and heteropatriarchy to begin their own journeys towards healing and culture. 

Posted in Indigenous Ground Floor Display | Leave a comment

Books for Two-Spirit Pride!

The term Two-Spirit is a term used within Indigenous communities to refer to specific Indigenous understandings of gender, sexuality and spirituality. The word is an umbrella term and there are different terms, responsibilities and roles for Two-Spirit people that are specific to each nation. The purpose of this term is to reflect the historical roles and spaces for diverse gender expressions and sexualities within Indigenous communities. For Pride Month, OISE Library has selected a few books written by Two-Spirit authors and featuring Two-Spirit characters. These books are a valuable resource because they share underrepresented Two-Spirit stories in a community specific way that centers the experiences of Indigenous people. As such, the following books deal with difficult, and sensitive topics but treats them with care. They range from perspectives of children learning more about their identity, to Elders sharing their insights and wisdom.  

Fire Song, the debut novel by Adam Garnet Jones is a YA adaptation of his 2015 film that was shortlisted for the CODE Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Young Adult Literature. This book is centered around various choices that the protagonist, Shane, must make in the aftermath of grief and loss. Shane, a gay Anishnaabe teenager, dreams of moving to Toronto to go to university; however, this is complicated by the suicide of his sister and the resulting effects that it has on his family. Furthermore, he is also struggling with a queer relationship that he must hide from his community and wants to move to the city where he wants to live openly. Fire Song revolves around the decisions that Shane must make about whether he should stay and support his family or leave and live truthfully. This book takes a critical look at how even making the “right choices” doesn’t have the same impact when you’re facing layers of systemic barriers that inevitably shape the outcomes of your life. The stories are crafted with beautiful language, including excerpts of poetry that tie together the emotional waves of this story. This book is recommended for readers age 13 to 17. 

A Two-Spirit Journey is an autobiographical book written by Ma-Nee Chacaby, a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder. This book shares an account of her life, and the multitude of socio-economic barriers which she overcame throughout her life. It starts off with her childhood in a remote Anishinaabe community where poverty and alcoholism remain as legacies of colonialism. In this autobiography, Elders sharing knowledge is an important theme as Ma-Nee Chacaby provides profound insights on what it means to journey through life as a Two-Spirit person, and she also shares the importance of Elders as she talks about the spiritual and cultural traditions that she learned from her own grandmother and step-father.

47 000 Beads is beautiful: in both the story, as well as the illustrations that surround it. It is a children’s picture book written by by Koja Adeyoha, Angel Adeyoha and illustrated by Holly McGillis. This story is written by a Two-Spirit Lakota author about a character named Peyton who enjoys dancing at the powwow. However, she expresses that she isn’t comfortable wearing a dress anymore and her Aunt asks a few friends to help Peyton get what she needs. This book is much needed because stories about Two-Spirit Indigenous children is very underrepresented. Furthermore, this book is also great representation for showing what validating and empowering relationships can look like. In this story her family is able to come together to show Peyton that they accept her and help her discover what being two-spirit means. This book is intended for readers age 5 – 7. 

Surviving the City is a graphic novel debut by Tasha Spillet-Sumner who draws from her Cree and Trinidadian heritage to write a story about friendship and resilience. It follows the story of Dez and Miikwan who are extremely close Indigenous teens. When Dez disappears, Miikwan is devastated and old wounds resurface. The novel visualises the trauma of missing a loved one through the appearances of various spirits throughout the novel. The illustrations within the graphic novel carry as much weight as the dialogue and through that, this novel confronts some of the worst legacies of colonialism. Spillet also provides an appendix in the book entitled “Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit People” which gives more context and provides suggestions for further readings.This book is recommended for readers age 9 to 13. 

Posted in Indigenous Ground Floor Display | Leave a comment

Raising and Teaching Anti-Racist Kids

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet have brought much-needed attention to the racist policies and systems that harm Black people in the United States, Canada, and throughout the world. Many parents and educators are wondering how best to speak to children about race and racism, and how to educate for antiracism and for Black Lives. The University of Toronto Libraries and the OISE Library are here to help parents and teachers find the resources they need and to feel empowered as educators.

These are just a few select resources for kids and for teachers from the UofT collections with a focus on Canadian titles; library staff can help you find more, and we welcome your title suggestions. Unfortunately, not all educational or children’s materials are available or us to purchase in electronic formats; we encourage you to contact your local public library or your local independent bookseller (A Different Booklist is a Black-owned Toronto bookseller we recommend) while our physical locations are closed. Please note that the compilers of this list are not Black and this initiative is a mark of solidarity in an effort to offer resources to learn. Black Lives Matter.

This list is a companion list to UofT Libraries’ Anti-Black Racism Reading List; we encourage parents and teachers to look at these titles as well.

Resources for Young Children (5-9)

Cover of Aricville by Shauntay Grant

Africville by Shauntay Grant & illustrated by Eva Campbell (2018)

A young girl visits the site of Africville in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a historically Black community, and imagines what the community was once like. She visits the present-day park and the sundial where her great-grandmother’s name is carved in stone, and celebrates a summer day at the annual Africville reunion. Ages 5-8.

A Likkle Miss Lou: How Jamaican Poet Louise Bennett Coverley Found her Voice by Nadia L. Hohn & illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes (2019)

A story about the young life of Louise Bennett Coverly growing up Kingston, Jamaica. Louise loves to hear Jamaican Patois being spoken, but is only taught British English at school. The story not only teaches readers about a Miss Lou’s biography, but encourages them to use language for their empowerment and to find their own voices. Ages 5-8.

Viola Desmond Won’t be Budged by Jody Nyasha Warner & illustrated by Richard Rudnicki (2010)
La Détermination de Viola Desmond translated into French by Louise Binette (2013)

In 1946, Viola Desmond was arrested for refusing to give up her seat in a Nova Scotia movie theater. For children whose exposure to civil rights activism has been limited to American figures, this book can spark conversations about the history and legacy of racial segregation in Canada. Also available in French. Ages 7-9.

The Stone Thrower by Jael Ealey Richardson & illustrated by Matt James

An account of the young life of Canadian Football League quarterback Chuck Ealey written by his daughter. A companion to Richardson’s adult biography of the same name. Ages 5-9.


The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson & illustrated by Rafael López (2018)
Un Jour, Tu Découvriras… translated into French by Isabelle Allard (2019)

Written by Jacqueline Woodson, winner of the National Book Award and the Coretta Scott King Award, The Day You Begin encourages young readers to find the courage to connect, even when feeling scared and alone. Also available in French. Ages 5-8.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander & illustrated by Kadir Nelson (2019)

Written in the form of a poem, this picture book is “a love letter to Black life in the United States.” Spanning centuries of Black resistance, this book can help kids to contextualize Black Lives Matter in a broader history. Ages 5-9.


Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship by Irene Latham & Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls & Selina Alko (2018)

When they can’t find partners, Irene and Charles are assigned to work together on a poetry project. Irene, who is white, and Charles, who is Black, don’t know each other, and aren’t sure if they want to. Through writing poetry, Irene and Charles share their everyday experiences with race, family, and identity, and begin to bridge the divide that separates them. Ages 8-12. Available as an ebook.

All-Stars: The True Story of the 1934 Chatham Coloured All-Stars by Scott Chantler (2019)

This mini-comic tells the story of the Chatham Coloured All-Stars, the first Black team to win an Ontario Baseball Amateur Association title. The comic is also sold on Etsy, with proceeds supporting the Chatham-Kent Black Historical Society, and has a free accompanying teachers’ guide. Ages 8-12.

Resources for Older Children (10-18)

Basodee: An Anthology Dedicated to Black Youth edited by Fiona Raye Clarke (2012)

An anthology of youth-centred and youth-created poems, essays, and stories exploring what it means to be young, Black, and Canadian. Ages 14 & up.



Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (2018)

After twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer, his ghost witnesses the aftermath of his killing and its effect on his family and community. When Jerome meets the ghost of Emmett Till, he is able to see his death as part of a larger pattern of systemic racism. Ages 10-15.



Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Africville: An African Nova Scotian Community is Demolished — and Fights Back by Gloria Ann Wesley (2019)

Part of the Righting Canada’s Wrongs series, Wesley’s book tells the story of Africville –⁠ how the city of Halifax neglected and dismantled the Black community, the city’s apology years later, and how black residents of Halifax keep the spirit of their community alive. The text incorporates historical photographs, documents, and first-person narratives, making it an ideal text for introducing historical and archival sources. Ages 12-16.

Season of Rage: Hugh Burnett and the Struggle for Civil Rights by John Cooper (2005)

This book documents civil right struggles for Black Canadians in 1950s Ontario, focusing on the town of Dresden. This account can help counter myths about Canada’s position as a more enlightened and inclusive country and remind readers that the civil rights movement was not limited to the United States. Ages 10-16.

I am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina (2017)

A graphic novel following the ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones as he watches his friends fight for justice after Jones is killed by an off-duty police officer. A teachers’ guide is available from Lee & Low Books. Ages 14-18.




Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling by Sabrina Jones and Marc Mauer (2013)

Based on the book by Marc Mauer and the Sentencing Project, a group that advocates for criminal justice reform in the United States, this graphic adaptation makes the original text more accessible for teens and young adults, addressing how the US came to have the highest rate of incarceration in the world and a justice system that disproportionately targets Black Americans. Ages 15 & up.

Resources for Educators & Parents

Teaching for Black Lives edited by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, Wayne Au (2018)

Published by Rethinking Schools, Teaching for Black Lives is an edited anthology tackling topics ranging from bringing Black Lives Matter into school curriculum, school dropout rates, restorative justice, and how to introduce young students to the concepts of race and racial difference.

Centering African Proverbs, Indigenous Folktales, and Cultural Stories in Curriculum: Units and Lesson Plans for Inclusive Education edited by George J. Sefa Dei and Mairi McDermott (2019)

Edited by faculty from OISE and the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, this book includes detailed description of educational units from a variety of educators, as well as a reflection on their unit design from an anti-racist standpoint.


Black Appetite. White Food. Issues of Race, Voice, and Justice Within and Beyond the Classroom by Jamila Lyiscott (2019)

Jamila Lyiscott explores how white privilege manifests in classroom spaces and challenges non-Black teachers to think critically about their teaching practices. It provides strategies for analysis, reflection, and action in and outside the classroom. Ebook / Print.



Teaching Race: How to Help Students Unmask and Challenge Racism by Stephen D. Brookfield and Associates (2019)

Primarily aimed at white teachers working at majority-white institutions, this book covers topics like how to teach the concept of whiteness, teach against colour blindness, and help students think about their own positionality. While aimed at university instructors, many of these techniques and conversations could easily be adapted for high school classrooms. Ebook / Print.


Not Light, but Fire: How to Lead Meaningful Race Conversations in the Classroom by Matthew R. Kay (2018)

A guide for teachers who want to initiate and facilitate meaningful, productive dialogues about race in the high school classroom. Tackles topics like creating safe spaces for difficult conversations and identifying the difference between substantial and inconsequential discussions about race.



Beyond Heroes and Holidays: A Practical Guide to K-12 Anti-Racist, Multicultural Education and Staff Development edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, Margo Okazawa-Rey (2008)

A classic text in multicultural education that is now in its second edition, Beyond Heroes and Holidays provides theory and guidelines for instructors, as well as activities and lesson ideas for all subject areas.


Anti-Bias Education in the Early Childhood Classroom: Hand in Hand, Step by Step by Katie Kissinger (2017)

This guide is broken up into sections introducing different aspects of social justice for early children education settings, including racial, disability, and economic justice, helping educators to situate conversations about race within broader anti-bias work. Available as an ebook.

Posted in Library Resources, Seasonal Display | 1 Comment

Wellness Resources for Tough Times

It is a challenging time for students, faculty, and members of the OISE community. As we adapt to online classes and work remotely in support of physical distancing, many of us have been removed from our normal routines. This experience is challenging to both our academic and professional lives, and to our personal well-being. Web-based library services are still running to support your research, and we at the OISE Library have compiled the following list of wellness ideas and resources to help support your well-being. Read on, and stay happy and healthy!


Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our attention into the present moment, becoming aware of our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Often, mindfulness can help us to maintain a sense of calm and balance in times of uncertainty and stress. Mindfulness practices can incorporate movement, breathing techniques and meditation. Here are a few ideas for incorporating mindful practices into your daily routines:

Mindful Movement

As we are working from home and perhaps spending more time seated at our desks and in front of screens, it’s important to take breaks. Consider mixing and matching some of the following instructor-recommended yoga poses into your day to keep your body loose and your stress levels down:

  • Sink your hips back onto your heels and let your body rest on your thighs in child’s pose. Breathe into your back body, feel the muscles loosen and your back ribs expand with each inhale and sink down with each exhale.
  •  Sit on your heels and inhale as you squeeze your shoulders up towards your ears, clenching your fists and scrunching your face, maybe scrunching your toes; exhale and release everything with an audible sigh. Do this at least 3 times.
  • Sway and arch your back in cat/cow to loosen the spine, then shake your hips from side to side in happy dog (like you’re wagging your tail!).
  • Flip your perspective in downward dog for 5 breaths. Root down through your hands and lengthen your spine. Pedal out your feet, “walking the dog.”
  • Ragdoll in a standing forward fold by bending your knees as much as you need to, holding onto opposite elbows. Sway side to side and gently nod and shake your head to let go through your neck and shoulders.
  •  Stand tall in mountain pose, drop your shoulders, lift the corners of your mouth, and close your eyes.
  • Take 5 deep belly breaths (in any position!), imagining that you can see your breath moving through your whole body.
  •  Rest in savasana, gradually relaxing your body from your toes up to the top of your head.

We’ve posted some visual references for these poses on our Instagram page for those following along at home!

Some additional free resources for at-home practices of mindful movement include Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel (offering beginner-friendly video yoga instruction) and Yoga with Kassandra’s YouTube channel (offering all-levels and all styles of video yoga instruction).

Mindful Breathing and Meditation

To calm the mind, try these instructor-approved breathing techniques:

    • Pursed-lip breathing: Bring your attention to your exhalations by breathing out through pursed lips (like you’re blowing through a straw). Inhale smoothly through the nose, and notice your inhalations grow deeper and more spontaneous in response.
    • Box breathing: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, exhale for 8 counts.
    • Alternate nostril breathing

And for something completely different, to get your energy levels up, try lion’s breath (let yourself feel silly, and laugh!).

Additional breathing techniques and guided meditations can be freely accessed online through the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre (also available as an app), and the Oak meditation app (offering guided and customizable meditations of multiple lengths).

Mindfulness for Kids

Are you taking care of children at home? These resources may help you to keep them learning, active, and entertained!

  • Tumblebook Library, accessible through the OISE Library homepage, is a collection of ebooks, videos, and activities for children. Two titles of note are the ebook videos Stretch by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin and You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey and Soyeon Kim. Stretch encourages children to stretch and move along with animated animals in the story and is accompanied by a virtual Memory Game based on the book. You Are Stardust emphasizes children’s strong connections with the natural world.
  • Cosmic Kids Yoga’s YouTube channel offers a range of yoga and mindfulness practices geared towards children ages 3+.
  • Kids Yoga Stories has written a blog post about incorporating yoga and mindfulness into your new habits at home, including a number of suggestions and printable resources for both kids and adults.

Mindful Home and Work-spaces

Looking for some other ways to make your home and home-office a healthy and happy space? Consider some of the following ideas:

  • Change up your virtual classroom or office by sitting on a mat or a cushion instead of a chair.
  • Remember to stretch and drink plenty of water to keep yourself fresh and alert. Set a timer to take screen-breaks.
  • Create a gratitude practice: mindfully reflect upon 3 good things from your day before you fall asleep; they can be as small or as big as you like! If you live with housemates or family members, consider sharing your lists at the end of the day. 
  • Try laughter yoga. Set a timer and challenge your housemates/friends/family to laugh for two minutes straight. This can be fake laughter (the more ridiculous sounding the better) or real laughter, but you’re not allowed to stop until the timer goes off. (Trust me, it will become real laughter soon enough!)
  • Connect with others over phone, email, or video chat. We may be physically distanced from each other, but we do not need to be alone!

Additional Resources for Mental Wellness

It’s normal to feel stressed and isolated at this time. If you are feeling distressed, U of T’s Health and Wellness resources are available to you.  Good2Talk Student Helpline (1-866-925-5454) provides professional counseling, information and referrals helpline for mental health, addictions and students well-being. My Student Support Program (My SSP) (1-844-451-9700 / Outside of North America: 001-416-380-6578) also provides culturally-competent mental health and counselling services in 146 languages for all U of T students, available 24/7 through chat or phone call. Support is also available for U of T staff and faculty through the Human Resources & Equity website.

From all of us at the OISE Library, we wish you well! 

Posted in Library Resources | Leave a comment

Featured Activity Kit: Constellation Blocks

As March is the perfect month for star-gazing, check out our newly-arrived Constellation Blocks as the featured activity kit!

The kit explores 16 different constellations from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Each block includes information about the name, the constellation symbol, the magnitude, the hemisphere and also includes two debossed sides with the constellations (one with the connecting lines included).

It is a very tactile activity kit as the creators of the block encourage students to touch the constellations that are on the blocks to feel the differences in size and magnitude between the different stars. Many of the symbols are also historically significant and they encourage students to research about them. These blocks are a great kit to introduce into lesson plans on constellations, as they allow students to identify, compare and contrast different constellations and stars, as well as to recognize famous stars and their mythologies. Furthermore, it also introduces them to understanding and comparing simple scientific data.

The wood is non-toxic and made with non-toxic inks, and the blocks are meant for children who are two years old and above. If you like the design of these blocks, check out two other block activity kits that were also newly added to our collection. One includes information about the planets, and the other one is on the theme of dinosaurs! You can find them in our OISE Library K-12 Manipulative Database or you can find all of them on our New Arrivals Shelf on the ground floor of the Library.

Posted in Featured activity kit | Leave a comment