The story of Canada’s Indian Residential School System has been front and centre in the news this past few weeks with the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report. It contained over 90 recommendations and it will be interesting going forward to see how many are acted upon.

Through the media, I have already heard educators and executives of the TRC proposing to rewrite textbooks for elementary schools, high schools and universities so they contain additional chapters detailing the findings of the commission. This is all being proposed to raise awareness in future generations. Wrong!

As I helped my granddaughter with a grade eleven social studies assignment on Canada’s role in WW II the other day, she said: : “I won’t remember any of this after I hand it in, grandpa.”

That’s my point. The most effective way to raise awareness is through effective storytelling rather than having kids answer questions from a textbook. These days the best vehicles are either online, television or movies. Good novels can work but with so many alternatives, their penetration with the younger audience can be a challenge. Think of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, as a good example. Raising Awareness of what happened on D-Day by watching this movie is much more effective than reading a dry account of dates, times, locations and casualty counts in a textbook.