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Getting Started

As you begin to look for ways to continue to educate yourself on anti-racism, we encourage you to visit the following resources:

  • Watch some of the films and documentaries recommended.
  • Read some books from the provided reading list.
  • Learn more about microaggressions.
Elder Pauline Shirt

Films & Documentaries

The purpose of presenting these films/documentaries as a learning tool is to assist in developing an understanding of what racism looks like. Please be advised that each film has sensitive content regarding race and racism. Please review the following reflection questions:

  1. What moments in this film stood out for you? Why?
  2. Were there any surprises? Anything that challenged what you know––or thought you knew?
  3. What messages, emotions or ideas will you take away from this film? Why?
  4. What questions do you still have?


This booklist is a compilation that explores the range of topics related to anti-racism and equity. Both Canadian and American narratives have been explored with the aim of providing a broad and relevant list to select from. These books have been categorized in four areas:

  • Turtle Island and North American Histories
  • How to be an Anti-Racist
  • Anti-Racism at Work
  • Contemporary Experiences

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Saul Indian Horse is dying. Tucked away in a hospice high above the clash and clang of a big city, he embarks on a marvellous journey of imagination back through the life he led as a northern Ojibway, with all its sorrows and joys.

With compassion and insight, author Richard Wagamese traces the decline of a culture and a cultural way through his fictional characters. For Saul, taken forcibly from the land and his family when he's sent to residential school, salvation comes for a while through his incredible gifts as a hockey player. But in the harsh realities of 1960s Canada, he battles obdurate racism and the spirit-destroying effects of cultural alienation and displacement.

Indian Horse unfolds against the bleak loveliness of northern Ontario, all rock, marsh, bog and cedar. Wagamese writes with a spare beauty, penetrating the heart of a remarkable Ojibway man.

Five Little Indians: A Novel by Michelle Good

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown East-side Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

Obasan by Joy Kogawa

Based on the author's own experiences, this award-winning novel was the first to tell the story of the evacuation, relocation, and dispersal of Canadian citizens of Japanese ancestry during the Second World War.

The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and 40s provides the setting for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid and intense reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant family. They each experience a very different childhood, depending on age and sex, as they encounter the complexities of birth and death, love and hate, kinship and otherness. Mingling with the realities of Canada and the horror of war are the magic, ghosts, paper uncles and family secrets of Poh-Poh, or Grandmother, who is the heart and pillar of the family.

The Hanging of Angelique by Afua Cooper

Writer, historian and poet Afua Cooper tells the astonishing story of Marie-Joseph Angélique, a slave woman convicted of starting a fire that destroyed a large part of Montréal in April 1734 and condemned to die a brutal death. In a powerful retelling of Angélique’s story―now supported by archival illustrations―Cooper builds on 15 years of research to shed new light on a rebellious Portuguese-born black woman who refused to accept her indentured servitude. At the same time, Cooper completely demolishes the myth of a benign, slave-free Canada, revealing a damning 200-year-old record of legally and culturally endorsed slavery.

Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo by Zora Neale Hurston

In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, just outside Mobile, to interview 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis. Of the millions of men, women, and children transported from Africa to America as slaves, Cudjo was then the only person alive to tell the story of this integral part of the nation’s history. Hurston was there to record Cudjo’s firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of anti-racist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves.

Nice Racism: Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm by Robin DiAngelo

In Nice Racism, her follow-up work to White Fragility, DiAngelo explains how progressive white people perpetuate racial harm. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and with over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, she picks up where White Fragility left off and moves the conversation forward.

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us is a nonfiction book by public policy researcher and author Heather McGhee. McGhee draws on insights gleaned from travel across the United States, work at public policy and advocacy organization Demos, and life experience as a Black American woman to examine why racism is harmful to all Americans, not just the people who are most affected by it.

Everyday Anti-Racism: Getting Real About Race in School edited by Mica Pollock

Pathbreaking contributors—among them Beverly Daniel Tatum, Sonia Nieto, and Pedro Noguera—describe concrete ways to analyze classroom interactions that may or may not be “racial,” deal with racial inequality and “diversity,” and teach to high standards across racial lines. Topics range from using racial incidents as teachable moments and responding to the “n-word” to valuing students’ home worlds, dealing daily with achievement gaps, and helping parents fight ethnic and racial misconceptions about their children. Questions following each essay prompt readers to examine and discuss everyday issues of race and opportunity in their own classrooms and schools.

The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing by Anneliese A. Singh

This is a practical guide to help navigate racism, challenge privilege, manage stress and trauma, and begin to heal. The Racial Healing Handbook offers practical tools to help you navigate daily and past experiences of racism, challenge internalized negative messages and privileges, and handle feelings of stress and shame.

From Equity Talk to Equity Walk: Expanding Practitioner Knowledge for Racial Justice in Higher Education by Tia Brown McNair et al.

From Equity Talk to Equity Walk offers practical guidance on the design and application of campus change strategies for achieving equitable outcomes. Drawing from campus-based research projects sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, this invaluable resource provides real-world steps that reinforce primary elements for examining equity in student achievement, while challenging educators to specifically focus on racial equity as a critical lens for institutional and systemic change.

Creating Space: My Life and Work in Indigenous Education by Verna J. Kirkness

Verna J. Kirkness grew up on the Fisher River Indian reserve in Manitoba. Her childhood dream to be a teacher set her on a lifelong journey in education as a teacher, counsellor, consultant, and professor. Her simple quest to teach "in a Native way" revolutionized Canadian education policy and practice. Kirkness broke new ground at every turn. As the first cross-cultural consultant for the Manitoba Department of Education Curriculum Branch, she made Cree and Ojibway the languages of instruction in several Manitoba schools.

Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity: Critical Perspectives for Leadership edited by Adrianna Kezar and Julie Possett

Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity empowers all administrators in higher education to engage in their work—to make decisions, hire, mentor, budget, create plans, and carry out other day-to-day operations—with a clear commitment to justice, sensitivity to power and privilege, and capacity to facilitate equitable outcomes. Grounding administration for social justice as a matter of daily work, this book translates abstract concepts and theory into the work of hiring, socialization, budgeting, and decision-making.

UNBIAS: Addressing Unconscious Bias at Work by Stacey A. Gordon

This book helps you understand concepts of workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion, shows you how to identify bias, and provides you with the tools for actively removing barriers and ensuring equity throughout your organization.

Anti-Racist Education Leadership and Policy: Addressing Racism in Public Education by Sarah Diem and Anjale D. Welton

Anti-Racist Educational Leadership and Policy helps educational leaders better comprehend the racial implications and challenges of the current educational policy landscape. Each chapter unpacks a policy issue such as school choice, school closures, standardized testing, discipline, and school funding, and analyzes it through the racialized and market-driven lenses of the current leadership context. Full of real examples, this book equips aspiring school leaders with the skills to question how a policy addresses or fails to address racism, action-oriented strategies to develop anti-racist solutions, and the tools to encourage their school community to promote racial equity. This important book demystifies a complex policy context and prepares current and future teacher leaders, principals, and superintendents to lead their schools towards more equitable practice.

The Devil is in the Details: Systems Solutions for Equity Excellence, and Student Well-Being by Michael Fullan and Mary Jean Gallagher

The Devil is in the Details shows how we can re-think the education system and its three levels of leadership (local, middle, and top) so that each level can contribute to dramatic turnaround for education and society. The focus is on examining details to ensure effective actions are taken, rather than assuming large pronouncements and policies will drive change.

We Can’t Talk about That at Work! How to Talk about Race, Religion, Politics and other Polarizing Topics by Mary-Frances Winters

Instead of shutting down any mention of taboo topics, Mary-Frances Winters shows how to structure intentional conversations about them, so people can safely confront biases and stereotypes and create stronger, more inclusive organizations.

The Break by Katherena Vermette

When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break—a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house—she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim—police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives, a larger, more comprehensive story about the lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an Indigenous scientist and as a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices.

The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Powerby Desmond Cole

In his 2015 cover story for Toronto Life magazine, Desmond Cole exposed the racist actions of the Toronto police force, detailing the dozens of times he had been stopped and interrogated under the controversial practice of carding. The story quickly came to national prominence, shaking the country to its core and catapulting its author into the public sphere. Cole used his newfound profile to draw insistent, unyielding attention to the injustices faced by Black Canadians on a daily basis.


Getting started can be difficult, since we may not always know where to start. One area that requires a lot of attention and supports growth is getting to understand microaggressions.

For this primer, we have decided to use the word most known to people, microaggressions. However, it is also important to problematize the terminology since the impact of microaggressions is not at all micro. There are significant psychological implications to the person being harmed. Please see the article attached.

To support this learning, we must understand how these acts show up in everyday situations. Please go to Anti-Black Racism Microaggressions to learn more about how microaggressions are displayed, and to Responding to Microaggressions and Bias to understand the ways in which you can respond to microaggressions.

Short Film

To further your learning in this area, please review this short film that provides a visual depiction of acts of exclusion (e.g., microaggression) It provides viewers with a glimpse into the life of a young Black man and how his daily encounters are shaped by his race. Please be advised that this feature contains sensitive content regarding race and racism.

Watch All the Little Things

Please take your time and complete the All the Little Things Self-Reflection.

Racial healing, self-care, and restoration tips

In this video, learn more about a mindful approach to race and social justice from Rhonda Magee, Jon Kabat-Zinn and Anderson Cooper, as part of Wisdom 2.0's Mindfulness in America Summit, New York City.


Watch Rhonda V. Magee, Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco discuss Mindfulness for Working Against Racism.