#GiftingReconciliation

Leading up to and through the holiday season, Minister Bennett is highlighting various books by Indigenous authors (or about Indigenous cultures) for Canadians to consider. The goal is to encourage reconciliation by increasing Canadians' understanding of Indigenous issues, cultures, and history through sharing Indigenous literature.

The list will be updated frequently, so check back often and share with your friends.

Book List

Lightfinder, by Aaron Paquette
From the publisher : "Lightfinder is a Young Adult fantasy novel about Aisling, a young Cree woman who sets out into the wilderness with her Kokum (grandmother), Aunty and two young men she barely knows. They have to find and rescue her runaway younger brother, Eric. Along the way she learns that the legends of her people might be real and that she has a growing power of her own. The story follows the paths of Aisling and Eric, siblings unwittingly thrust into a millennia old struggle for the future of life on earth. It deals with growing up, love and loss, and the choices life puts in our path. Love and confusion are in store, as are loss and pain. Things are not always what they seem and danger surrounds them at every turn. Will Raven's mysterious purposes prevail? With darkness closing in how will they find the light to guide them? Will Aisling find Eric in time?"

Alex Janvier, by Greg Hill, Chris Dueker, Lee-Ann Martin
Retrospective art book presenting more than 150 works created from 1950 to the present day and recounts the story of Alex Janvier, a life devoted to art and the re-empowerment of Indigenous cultures.

À la recherche du bout du monde, by Michel Noël
An inspiring novel about a young Indigenous orphan and his extraordinary quest for identity. (Book not available in English)

Kuessipan, by Naomi Fontaine
First novel by a young author about life in her Innu reserve. (Book not available in English)

Grey Eyes, by Frank Christopher Busch
From the publisher: "The Grey Eyes use their magic to maintain harmony and keep evil at bay. With only one elderly Grey-Eye left in the village of the Nehiyawak, the birth of a new Grey-Eyed boy promises a renewed line of defence against their only foe: the menacing Red-Eyes, whose name is rarely spoken but whose presence is ever felt. While the birth of the Grey-Eyed boy offers the clan much-needed protection, it also initiates a struggle for power that threatens to rip the clan apart, leaving them defenseless against their sworn enemy. The responsibility of restoring balance and harmony, the only way to keep the Nehiyawak safe, is thrust upon a boy’s slender shoulders. What powers will he have, and can he protect the clan from the evil of the Red Eyes?"

Nunavik, by Michel Hellman
The author talks about his travels in the North of Quebec and about relationships with First Nations. (Book not available in English)

Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire
Publisher’s description: "Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie "Charlie" Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada."

Missing Nimama, by Melanie Florence
From the publisher: "A young mother, one of the many missing indigenous women, watches over her small daughter as she grows up without her nimama. Together, but separated, they experience important milestones: the first day of school, first dance, first date, a wedding, and new life.

A free-verse story of love, loss, and acceptance told in alternating voices, Missing Nimama shows the human side of a national tragedy."

Alec's Journey, by J.C. Wesley
"Twelve-year-old Atungalik has learned to live with death and deprivation in his unforgiving Inuit homeland of the Barrens. There are greater challenges ahead, as he's pulled into new worlds - first, under the stern command of a trading post manager, and then in the urban dazzle of Ottawa and Winnipeg. Atungalik becomes Alec, and learns the city ways, but will he lose his Inuit identity and forget who he is? Alec's Journey is a deep and absorbing story of change, history, and the strength it takes for a young person to welcome both."

Sometimes I Feel Like A Fox, by Danielle Daniel
From the publisher: "In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book."

As Long as the Rivers Flow, by James Bartleman
The novel follows one girl, Martha, from the Cat Lake First Nation in Northern Ontario who is "stolen" from her family at the age of six and flown far away to residential school. She doesn't speak English but is punished for speaking her native language; most terrifying and bewildering, she is also "fed" to the school's attendant priest with an attraction to little girls. Ten long years later, Martha finds her way home again, barely able to speak her native tongue. The memories of abuse at the residential school are so strong that she tries to drown her feelings in drink, and when she gives birth to her beloved son, Spider, he is taken away by Children's Aid to Toronto. In time, she has a baby girl, Raven, whom she decides to leave in the care of her mother while she braves the bewildering strangeness of the big city to find her son and bring him home.

Birdie by Tracie Lindberg
Publisher’s description: "Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from wounds of the past, informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions. Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman, leaves her home in Northern Alberta following tragedy and travels to Gibsons, BC. She is on something of a vision quest, seeking to understand the messages from The Frugal Gourmet (one of the only television shows available on CBC North) that come to her in her dreams. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns, who played Jesse on The Beachcombers, because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Bernice heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers but they are not the ones she expected. With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Bernice finds the strength to face the past and draw the lessons from her dreams that she was never fully taught in life. Part road trip, dream quest and travelogue, the novel touches on the universality of women's experience, regardless of culture or race."

Matisiwin by Marie Christine Bernard
A novel about a women’s journey towards her personal identity inherited in part from women in her family. (Book not available in English)

Life Among the Qallunaat by Mini Aodla Freeman
Publisher’s description: "Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s."

Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters by Prune Harris and Lillian Marshall
Publisher’s description: "The story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters is a very old Mi’kmaw legend. It happens in the North Sky as the stars that show the story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters move around Tatapn, the North Star.

In the pictures in this book you can see how these stars, shown as they appear two hours before dawn, move through the night sky. They are in a different position in each of the seasons because they are the time-keepers, they are the calendar.

All through the year, as the stars and planets travel through the sky, the Mi’kmaq watch the story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters as it unfolds before their eyes."

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson
Publisher’s description: Born of Mohawk and Cayuga descent, musical icon Robbie Robertson learned the story of Hiawatha and his spiritual guide, the Peacemaker, as part of the Iroquois oral tradition. Now he shares the same gift of storytelling with a new generation. Hiawatha was a strong and articulate Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves—a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.

The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Publisher’s description: "Rich with dark and light, pain and magic, The Inconvenient Indian distills the insights gleaned from Thomas King's critical and personal meditation on what it means to be "Indian" in North America, weaving the curiously circular tale of the relationship between non-Natives and Natives in the centuries since the two first encountered each other. In the process, King refashions old stories about historical events and figures, takes a sideways look at film and pop culture, relates his own complex experiences with activism, and articulates a deep and revolutionary understanding of the cumulative effects of ever-shifting laws and treaties on Native peoples and lands.

This is a book both timeless and timely, burnished with anger but tempered by wit, and ultimately a hard-won offering of hope--a sometimes inconvenient but nonetheless indispensable account for all of us, Indian and non-Indian alike, seeking to understand how we might tell a new story for the future."

Moonshot: the Indigenous Comics Collection by Hope Nicholson
From the publisher: "Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection brings together dozens of creators from North America to contribute comic book stories showcasing the rich heritage and identity of indigenous storytelling. From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future, this collection presents some of the finest comic book and graphic novel work on the continent."

The Orenda - Dans le grand cercle du monde by Joseph Boyden
Publisher’s description: "A visceral portrait of life at a crossroads, The Orenda opens with a brutal massacre and the kidnapping of the young Iroquois Snow Falls, a spirited girl with a special gift. Her captor, Bird, is an elder and one of the Huron Nation’s great warriors and statesmen. It has been years since the murder of his family and yet they are never far from his mind. In Snow Falls, Bird recognizes the ghost of his lost daughter and sees the girl possesses powerful magic that will be useful to him on the troubled road ahead. Bird’s people have battled the Iroquois for as long as he can remember, but both tribes now face a new, more dangerous threat from afar.

Christophe, a charismatic Jesuit missionary, has found his calling amongst the Huron and devotes himself to learning and understanding their customs and language in order to lead them to Christ. An emissary from distant lands, he brings much more than his faith to the new world. As these three souls dance each other through intricately woven acts of duplicity, small battles erupt into bigger wars and a nation emerges from worlds in flux."

We Sang You Home by Richard Van Camp
Publisher’s description:
"In this sweet and lyrical board book, gentle rhythmic text captures the wonder new parents feel as they welcome baby into the world. A celebration of the bond between parent and child, this is the perfect song to share with your little ones."

Amun
collective work by various Indigenous writers, under the direction of Michel Jean, in French. (Book not available in English)

Righting Canada’s Wrongs by Melanie Florence
Publisher’s description: Canada's residential school system for Indigenous young people is now recognized as a grievous historic wrong committed against First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples. This book documents this subject in a format that will give all young people access to this painful part of Canadian history.

Pikiq by Yayo
Beautifully illustrated children’s book about a young Inuit’s adventure in colours and drawings. - (Book not available in English)

Embers by Richard Wagamese
Publisher’s description: "In this carefully curated selection of everyday reflections, Richard Wagamese finds lessons in both the mundane and sublime as he muses on the universe, drawing inspiration from working in the bush--sawing and cutting and stacking wood for winter as well as the smudge ceremony to bring him closer to the Creator. Embers is perhaps Richard Wagamese's most personal volume to date. Honest, evocative and articulate, he explores the various manifestations of grief, joy, recovery, beauty, gratitude, physicality and spirituality--concepts many find hard to express. But for Wagamese, spirituality is multifaceted. Within these pages, readers will find hard-won and concrete wisdom on how to feel the joy in the everyday things. Wagamese does not seek to be a teacher or guru, but these observations made along his own journey to become, as he says, "a spiritual bad-ass," make inspiring reading."

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
Publisher’s description: An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School, not realizing just how far away home is. Along the way he's followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.

Akilak's Adventure by Deborah Kigjugalik Webster
Publisher’s description: "When Akilak must travel a great distance to another camp to gather food, she thinks she will never be able to make it. With a little help from her grandmother’s spirit, and her own imagination to keep her entertained, Akilak manages to turn a long journey into an adventure. Even though she at first feels that she will never be able to reach her destination, she keeps her grandmother’s assurance that her "destination is not running away; it will be reached eventually" in mind and ends up enjoying the journey that at first seemed so daunting."

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