How to be an Ally or How to be a "good" listener

In the late spring and early summer of 2021, former residential school residents and their allies and supporters began to search the grounds of former residential schools for bodies buried without proper markers or any sort of paperwork.  Although we knew these bodies existed (the Truth & Reconciliation Report indicates there are 5000-6000) at many of the sites of the former 139 residential schools, it was easy to say “not in Nova Scotia”.  The numbers are rising.  

In an effort to “do something”, we are compiling this page of resources to help us learn to listen with humility and to challenge racism, especially systemic racism, with respectful determination.  

Indigenous Resources

There are two excellent books about the Shubenacadie Residential School.

  • Out of the Depths, by Isabelle Knockwood, is the memoir of a survivor, describing life in the school and exploring the experiences of survivors.

  • Indian School Roadby Chris Benjamin, details a history of the school as researched by a journalist. The book includes correspondence from government officials, teachers at the school, as well as survivors.

Explore books by Indigenous authors. We recommend Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas; Mi’kmaw Waisisk | Mi’kmaw Animals by Alan Syliboy; For the Children by Rita Joe

Explore the beautiful artwork of Mushkego Cree artist Hawlii Pichette, who has created these beautiful colouring sheets.

Land acknowledgements are often spoken at the beginning of a public event. While sometimes they can be rote or scripted, a more meaningful approach is to take the time to carefully craft a land acknowledgement based on your own identity and experiences.

Using this guide to get started, write a land acknowledgement for your family or group of friends.

Use the opportunity to reflect on your community or neighbourhood and what it means to you to be a neighbour to all those who share the land.

The United Church’s Gifts with Vision catalogue offers the opportunity to support important community projects while honouring a family member or friend. Why not sponsor one of these gifts to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day, Fathers Day, or another special occasion with Indigenous Gifts.

Explore the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Is there one action you might focus on right now? Plan a meeting with a local politician or leader to discuss implementing one or more of the Calls to Action.

You can further explores the Calls here.

“The greatest heroes of our day and the days that came before us are the ones who draw from a deep well. When we hear them speak, we are listening, because there’s something undeniable about the reality of their depth.

They have done the work of investing in moments of silence to listen to their own souls, and so they give us the gift of that outpouring.

It isn’t about being chosen to be great. It isn’t about being prepared, or suddenly called.

It’s about you and me, and it’s about us.

May our moments of silence lead us to ourselves, and may what we find there lead us to each other, a constant cycle never ending, a constant journey toward peace.

Iw, Amen.”

– Kaitlin Curtice, “When We Take a Moment of Silence for Ourselves”, January 15, 2019,

To come.

To Come.

To come.