A celebration of the heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, I am happy to share a few books I think you should read.
I wish this included many more mini reviews and I am dedicated to getting my TBR list piled higher with more books by Indigenous authors. Keep in mind, I am simply not very good at summarizing my feelings about books, so I urge you to check out the authors listed here and do a little googling to find more!
Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga. This is a heart shattering book about seven Indigenous students who were forced to attend school in Thunder Bay because there wasn’t an adequate school in their communities. Tanya is an incredible journalist and she tells the stories of these students with so much love while holding the community and the reader to account when discussing the racism, indifference and complacency surrounding the tragic deaths of these kids.
The Break by Katherena Vermette. I am about a third of the way through this book. Stay tuned for a more thorough review. This book had me hooked from page one and I won’t stop reading until I uncover the truth (not believed by the police) about the assault witnessed in the first chapter.
it was never going to be okay by jaye simpson. This book is in my #summerpoetry pile and I’ve read only a few of the pieces in this collection, but I am moved by jaye’s honesty and fearless voice. It’s a mix of poetry and prose and if you’re the kind of person who thinks poetry is inaccessible, I’ll tell you, these poems will make you feel and will force you to think.
Peyakow by Darrel J. McLeod. Mamaskatch and Peyakow are both incredible collections of the stories of Darrel’s life. I was thrilled to sit and chat with him at JR last week, and if you want a very personal perspective on what it is to grow up Indigenous in Canada, these two books are where you should start. Check out the video of our chat here.
Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson. I cannot recommend enough this trilogy by one of the most joyful writers! Start with Son of a Trickster, where you’ll meet Jared and his family and friends. Eden tells these stories with great humour and you’ll love every single character, even if you kind of don’t like them.
Five Little Indians by Michelle Good. Can’t say much aboutthis book because it’s in my pile and I haven’t cracked it open yet. It’s the story of five young people who were taken from their families and placed in residential schools, then discharged without any support.
Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead. I was so excited to hear this book has been optioned for the screen. I cannot wait to see Jonny’s story! This book was a fast-moving book with so much happening in a little book, you really feel Jonny’s emotional frenzy as he deals with all the feelings about returning home to attend a funeral.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. I read this fantastic book with kid a couple of years ago in his English class. I was so happy to see a book by an Indigenous writer included in the curriculum, and was sad that Richard died that year. Another story of the residential school experience, Saul finds himself in hockey. While you might think this is a book about a Canadian pastime, it is not. Readers must be active witness to the horrors of the residential school system. Also. side note: Read Waubgeshig Rice’s piece in The Walrus about his complicated love of hockey.
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice. Moon of the Crusted Snow is a little book packed with meaning! This book is both apocalyptic and a story of rebirth, the life-saving rebirth of Indigenous culture and traditions in the face of chaos and grief. Also, excited for the sequel (Moon of the Turning Leaves) to come out next year!
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott. This collection of essays by one of my most favourite people in the world is a must read! Both heart breaking and enlightening, these essays offer the reader an opportunity to see how her family experienced poverty, mental illness and displacement from community. I urge you to read this book for its honest and beautiful writing. Check out the video of my chat with Alicia.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg. It’s been a minute since I read this book, but what I remember most is that it is very funny. Following Bernice from Alberta to BC as she dreams of meeting the actor who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, she learns far more from her dreams, and the other beautiful women in her life, than she imagined.
Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King. This book is a history lesson for Canadians who got little education with regards to the Indigenous Experience in Canada (that’s most of us!). It’s not a book I read straight through, but it is still a book I’d pick up. I have shared it with a few friends and now it’s no longer on my bookshelf, so whomever has it, can I get it back?