SMC One: The Christianity, Truth and Reconciliation Seminar

Deeply informed by the Final Report of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Christianity, Truth and Reconciliation Seminar explores the relationship between Christianity and Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. The Seminar invites first-year students to critically reflect on Christian churches’ complicity with settler colonialism, residential schools and the Canadian state’s programme of cultural genocide, while also exploring possible pathways to renewed relationship, reparation and reconciliation.

This course will help students understand why reconciliation is the responsibility of all Canadians and it will assist them in interdisciplinary reflection on what living into reconciliation might mean for them.

The course is taught by a member of St Michael’s College faculty, along with guest presenters and community partners.



  • Why should I apply?
    Image of TRC Bentwood Box

    The Bentwood Box travelled to each of the eight national gatherings of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (Image courtesy of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation).

    The Christianity, Truth and Reconciliation Seminar introduces you to university-level studies on a small scale with students who share your interests in, or desire to learn more about, reconciliation, resurgence, restitution, or relationships that promote truth-telling, better understanding of our shared history, and the pursuit of healing and social justice. In this course you’ll learn to critically engage with important issues and locate yourself within them by learning about the far-reaching influences of settler colonialism and by listening and learning from the voices, experiences, and wisdom of Indigenous educators, writers, survivors, and storytellers.

    Beyond your academic activities in the seminar, you will have an opportunity to participate in co-curricular training in Indigenous cultural awareness. On experiential learning field trips, you will also have opportunity to participate in community events and forms of relational learning that celebrate the beauty, gifts, and resiliency of Indigenous peoples.

  • What is the course?
    Image of the Shingwauk Residential School

    Shingwauk Residential School (image courtesy of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre).

    SMC185, the Christianity, Truth and Reconciliation Seminar is a half-course worth 0.5 credits. It will be offered in Fall 2022. The course consists of seminar discussions, guest speakers, and opportunities for experiential learning and listening. In this course, students will trace the relationships of encounter both historically through the life stories of prominent Indigenous leaders and thematically by examining specific and relevant topics. Throughout the course, students will also study Canadian churches’ complicity in the Indian Residential School System, with special reference to the Shingwauk School in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario (Anglican) and the Jesuit residential schools in nearby Spanish, Ontario (Catholic). Students will develop familiarity with the complex dynamics of engagement, critique, and creative adaptation of Christianity by diverse Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island. Students will also develop academic skills in careful reading, listening, reflective engagement, archival research and effective oral and written expression.

  • What will I be reading?
    Black and white image of the Niagara Wampum,

    The Treaty of Niagara Wampum Belt (1794) marks the relationship that is foundational to the formation of Canada; a relationship between the British crown and over 24 sovereign Indigenous Nations (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

    The guiding texts for this course include selections from several volumes of the Final Report of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), along with supporting primary and secondary sources. The majority of assigned readings are drawn from Indigenous scholars and visionary leaders, from the seventeenth century to the present day.

    The first half of the course traces histories of the engagement between Indigenous peoples and Christian churches through the life stories of prominent Indigenous leaders, considered against the backdrop of settler colonialism, the emergence of Canada and its systematic programme of cultural genocide. In this unit you will be reading texts such as the diaries and journals of Louis Riel and Kahkewaquonaby (Rev. Peter Jones), as well as Darren Bonaparte’s Mohawk reflection on the legacy of Káteri Tekahkwí:tha.

    The second half of the course explores selected themes, such as education, the interpretation of Jesus Christ, and traditions of treaty, sacred law and relationship to the land. Students will be guided by contemporary Indigenous thinkers, such as educational theorist Marie Battiste, legal scholar John Borrows, political scientist Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark, theologian and bishop Rev. Steven Charleston and the late poet and public intellectual Si’yam Lee Maracle.

  • What about the trips?

    Shirley Horn is a residential school survivor, leader of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association and the first chancellor of Algoma University (image courtesy of the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre).

    During the November Reading Week, students will participate in an extended research trip at the Shingwauk Residential School Centre at Algoma University in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. The Shingwauk Centre is home to the archives of three residential schools: the Anglican-operated Shingwauk Residential School and two Catholic schools in nearby Spanish, Ontario—namely, the Jesuit-operated St. Peter Claver Residential School, and the St. Joseph’s School for Girls operated by the Daughters of the Heart of Mary. Students will receive archival training from the Shingwauk staff, meet with a panel of residential school survivors and have opportunities to engage in activities that celebrate the culture of Indigenous communities.

    Other experiential modules may include day-visits to the Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Midland, Ontario and the Woodland Cultural Centre in Six Nations (former Mohawk Institute Residential School). A final itinerary for all trips will be made available prior to the beginning of the term.