Book Review – A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Edited and Abridged



  •    Book: A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools in from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Edited and Abridged
  •    Author: Report from the TRC of Canada
  •    Genre: Non-Fiction / Report
  •    Year of Release: 2016
  •    Read 196-page paperback edition in August 2016.

Book Description:

This report, edited and abridged from the full report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada, provides an overview of the history of residential schools, and the testimony provided by survivors of the residential schools in Canada. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair led the TRC through its work, the culmination of which is this important and detailed account of the horrific history of residential schools in Canada.

Book Review:

This non fiction book, which is an abridged version of a lengthy full report, is an excellent resource for anyone, particularly those without much prior background, who wish to learn more about residential schools and the work and outcomes of the TRC process. This work provides important historical overview and background to the issues of residential schools, and also provides factual detail as to what happened in the residential schools, coming from a variety of physical documents and actual witnesses, many of them survivors of the schools themselves.

It is hard to fully fathom the true horror and damage the residential schools caused to many generations of Indigenous Canadians. This book, although difficult reading in parts, is necessary for all of us to understand our contemporary history. We need to understand what happened, even in current, modern times, to Indigenous peoples in our country, if we are to move towards reconciliation.

The information in this work is well documented and evidenced, with numerous footnotes throughout, and many volumes of supplementary material available to the reader who wants more, including the full report. The many physical documents that were found from church records and government records help provide evidence to the awful realities of the residential schools, but the most powerful and raw information was in the form of interviews and quotes from survivors themselves, which are found throughout this book.

The comments made in the Reconciliation section are particularly powerful and forward thinking, and helps give us a road map as to what to do next. Chief Justice Murray Sinclair is a fountain of knowledge, and his leadership and wisdom come through in the text.

The one thing missing from this book, which may have been helpful in terms of context, would have been some additional detail on the history of treaties and colonization, however perhaps this was not included in the edited and abridged version.

In closing, and to summarize, in order to understand Indigenous issues in Canada, and work towards reconciliation, this book is a vital resource and recommended reading for all Canadians.

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 stars