Director's Message - October 2021

Sep 30, 2021 Rachel Dick Hughes

We are in the middle of National Truth & Reconciliation Week, and to mark the occasion, I have asked our staff to share their top book suggestions centered on Indigenous Culture and Truth & Reconciliation.

Tammy suggests Peace Pipe Dreams: The Truth About Lies About Indians by Darrell Dennis – a slightly irreverent and humorous look at some of the myths about First Nations that breaks down stereotypes.

Tammy is looking forward to reading 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act by Bob Joseph. If you prefer to listen rather than to read, try the YouTube presentation.

Marion and Laura recommend the Trickster series by Eden Robinson – in this supernatural coming-of-age trilogy, dark humour and unexpected twists keep the pages turning. Eden Robinson provides an entertaining cast, a beautiful West Coast setting, and a glimpse into the unique culture of the Haisla.

Marion also really enjoyed The First Mosquito by Caroll Simpson.

Nathalie recommends The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline – although dystopian fiction, this book brings to light the treatment of Indigenous peoples while highlighting their resiliency and their strength to keep their people and their culture alive.

Olivia seconds that recommendation along with three others: Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice, Monkey Beach by Eden Robsinson, and The Rez Sisters by Tomson Highway – all four couldn’t be more different but are all really good in their own way.

Carmen recommends Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story by David Robertson.  Betty tells the tragic story of the abduction and murder of Helen Betty Osborne in 1971.  The story is heartbreaking and a big reminder of the numerous missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.  

Ilke suggests Tukliit: The Stone People who Live in the Wind by Norman Hallendy – a book of beautiful photographs of stone figures with descriptions. The figures are found in the far north – Alaska, Greenland, and Baffin Island.

Alex has a few suggestions: Five Little Indians by Michelle Good – fiction based on true stories and events. It follows five Indigenous people after they finish/escape residential schools and how they dealt with their trauma while rediscovering themselves and their culture. A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott – a collection of essays that cover different topics and intertwine with Alicia’s personal life story. Her favourite essay from this book is about how intergenerational food poverty can be passed down and affect future generations’ physical and mental health. And finally Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead.

Leonor recommends Red Mountain Woman by Tina Fox – in this traditional Îethka Nakoda Story, Red Mountain Woman shares traditional teachings that she learned from her grandmother about protocol, respect, and sharing. The focus is on the importance of intergenerational teaching, the significance of the Elder’s role in the Indigenous community and other family members’ roles. The story is written in the Îethka language of the Stoney Nakoda People and also in English. She also appreciated Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nationa, Metis, & Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel – a very interesting book for anyone who would like to learn about one person’s Indigenous perspective.

My top picks are Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese and The Truth About Stories by Thomas King. Indian Horse was the first book I ever read about residential schools. It’s an entrancing and eye-opening story. The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative was the 2003 CBC Massey lecture. It takes the reader on a fascinating journey of discovering how stories shape how we understand the world and each other.

And here’s a brief list of titles to help you discuss residential schools with your children:

  • Dear Canada, These Are My Words: The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens by Ruby Slipperjack
  • My Name is Seepetza by Shirley Sterling
  • Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi’s Canoe by Nicola Campbell
  • The Train by Jodie Callaghan
  • Fatty Legs, A Stranger at Home, When I was Eight, and Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton & Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
  • I am Not a Number by Jeny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer
  • When We Were Alone and Sugar Falls by David A. Robertson
  • Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
  • As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden
  • Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation and Every Child Matters by Monique Gray Smith
  • Amik Loves School by Katherena Vermette

And the next time you’re in the library, we hope you’ll share your commitment to reconciliation on our front desk display.

Wishing you a wonderful October and a happy Thanksgiving.

Indigenous Reads - Staff Picks

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