#IndigenousReads Holiday Campaign

In December 2017, Minister Bennett is inviting Canadians to participate in the 2nd #IndigenousReads holiday campaign!

#IndigenousReads celebrates the wealth of diversity and perspective that Indigenous literature brings to our country. Participants are joining the path to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples by using the hashtags #IndigenousReads and #Reconciliation as well as by sharing book recommendations.

Check out this year's holiday recommendations and share with your friends!

Book club month list

Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails

Michael Kusugak
Illustrations by Vladyana Krykorka

"Northern Lights" is a beautiful tale that explores the mystical aspects of the northern lights in Inuit culture.

Scientists have their own explanations for the phenomenon that occurs when the night sky shimmers with milky white patterns, or displays all the colors of the rainbow. But the Inuit prefer their own explanation: They believe the souls of the dead are engaging in a lively game of soccer, just as they did when they were living. They run all over the sky chasing a walrus head that they use for a soccer ball.

This is the story of Kataujaq and the intimate relationship she has with her mother. They do almost everything together; they hug, rub noses and say "Mamaq" which means "You smell so nice." But a great sickness comes and Kataujaq's mother is taken south to the white people's hospital and never comes back. Kataujaq grieves, but is also able to rejoice when she and her grandmother watch the northern lights.

This book celebrates family life, intimacy and the glory of nature.

(Source: Powell Books)

You Hold Me Up

Monique Gray Smith
Illustrations by Danielle Daniel

This vibrant picture book, beautifully illustrated by celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, encourages children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other's well-being in their everyday actions.

Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families. This is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

(Source: Stoddard Kids Publishing)


Jan Bourdeau Waboose

As night sets in and the fire crackles, a young native girl is amazed when her grandmother invokes the spirits of their ancestors. She learns the mystical firedance and creates a bond with her people and their heritage that will last a lifetime.

(Source: Stoddard Kids Publishing)

Dakota Talks about Treaties

Kelly Crawford
Illustrated by Donald Chrétien

'Dakota Talks about Treaties’ is about Dakota’s experience at the 250th anniversary of the Treaty of Niagara. She learns about wampum, treaties and the importance of them.

A Stranger at Home

Christy Jordan-Fenton and
Margaret Pokiak-Fenton

Ten-year-old Margaret can hardly contain her excitement. After two years in a residential boarding school she is finally headed for home. But when she stands before her family at last, her mother doesn't recognize her, shouting, "Not my girl!" This was hardly the homecoming Margaret expected. She has forgotten her people's language and can't stomach her mother's food. She isn’t even allowed to play with her friend Agnes, because she is now seen as one of the despised outsiders. She has become a stranger to her own people.

In this extraordinary sequel to Fatty Legs (Les bas du pensionnat) Margaret must begin a painful journey of learning how to fit again, and reconcile her old self with the new.

(Source: Annick Press)

The Peacemaker: Thanadelthur

David Alexander Roberston

The Peacemaker is the story of Thanadelthur, a young Dene woman enslaved by the Cree, who becomes a guide for the Hudson Bay Company. In 1715 she negotiated a peace between longstanding enemies, the Cree and Dene.

The Peacemaker is one book in the Tales from Big Spirit series. Tales from Big Spirit is a unique six-book graphic novel series that delves into the stories of some of the great Indigenous heroes from Canadian history—some already well known and others who deserve to be. Designed to correspond to grades 4–6 social studies curriculums across Canada, these full colour graphic novels could be used in literature circles, novel studies, and book clubs to facilitate discussion of social studies topics. These books will help students make historical connections while promoting important literacy skills.

(Source: Highwater Press)

What is Truth, Betsy?: A Story of Truth

Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by Irene Kuiw

Miskwaadesi is puzzled about the teaching Truth. But she knows more than she thinks she does.

"What is Truth, Betsy?" is one book in The Seven Teachings Stories series. The Seven Teachings of the Anishinaabe—love, wisdom, humility, courage, respect, honesty, and truth—are revealed in seven stories for children. Set in urban landscapes, Indigenous children tell familiar stories about home, school, and community.

(Source: Portage and Main Press)

How Two-Feather was saved from loneliness

C.J. Taylor

Two-Feather had been wandering all winter, lonely and hungry. One spring night he goes to sleep to forget the despair, only to be awakened by a voice calling his name. It is a woman, so beautiful that Two-Feather immediately falls in love with her, and begs for her to stay with him forever. The woman leads him over mountains and through forests. Two-Feather obeys her every command, even the last, most difficult, only to find she has left him, but not without ensuring that he will never be lonely or hungry again.

(Source: Barnes & Noble)

Shin-chi’s canoe

Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrations by Kim LaFave

This moving sequel to the award-winning Shi-shi-etko tells the story of two children's experience at residential school. Shi-shi-etko is about to return for her second year, but this time her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, is going, too.

As they begin their journey in the back of a cattle truck, Shi-shi-etko tells her brother all the things he must remember: the trees, the mountains, the rivers and the salmon. Shin-chi knows he won't see his family again until the sockeye salmon return in the summertime.

(Source: House of Anansi Press)

The Honour Drum

Cheryl Bear and Tim Huff

The Honour Drum is a uniquely envisioned and crafted project shared between two Canadian friends—an Indigenous woman from the west coast and a non-Indigenous man from Ontario—to reach children, families and classrooms across Canada and around the world with a message of great beauty and truth that should not be ignored. This vibrant book is an important starting place for learning and insight that are vital and, for many people of all ages, overdue. The Honour Drum is a love letter to the Indigenous people of Canada and a humble bow to Indigenous cultures around the world.

(Source: Castle Quay Books)

The Arrow Sash

Sylvain Rivard

Inspired by Why Books, this beautifully illustrated book opens with a question from a child wanting to know more about the arrow sash. The grandmother answers his questions about the arrow sash and each story is more colourful and interesting than the last. The stories of the arrow sash explain the origin, the meaning, and the use of this object by Haudenosaunee People. This is the first book in a series on First Nations clothing.

The Arrow Sash/ La ceinture fléchée/ Aienkwire atiatahna is triligual, and available in French, English, and also in Mohawk.

As Long as the Rivers Flow

Larry Loyie With the participation of Constance Brissenden
Illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund

In the 1800s, the education of First Nations children was taken on by various churches in government-sponsored residential schools. Children were forcibly taken from their families in order to erase their traditional languages and cultures.

As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of Larry Loyie's last summer before entering residential school. It is a time of learning and adventure. He cares for an abandoned baby owl, watches his grandmother make winter moccasins, and helps the family prepare for a hunting and gathering trip.

(Source: GoodReads)

The Water Walker

Joanne Robertson

The story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations and for all life on the planet. She, along with other women, men, and youth have walked around all the Great Lakes from the four salt waters or oceans to Lake Superior. The walks are full of challenges and by her example Josephine challenges us all to take up our responsibility to protect our water: the giver of life, and to protect our planet for all generations.

(Source: Second Story Press)

My Name is Seepeetza

Shirley Sterling

At six years old, Seepeetza is taken from her happy family life on Joyaska Ranch to live as a boarder at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Life at the school is not easy, but Seepeetza still manages to find some bright spots. Always, thoughts of home make her school life bearable. An honest, inside look at life in an Indian residential school in the 1950s, and how one indomitable young spirit survived it.

(Source: House of Anansi Press)

7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga

David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Scott Henderson

The 7 Generations series is available in one book, and the illustrations are in vivid colour. 7 Generations: A Plains Cree Saga includes the four graphic novels: Stone, Scars, Ends/Begins, and The Pact.

Edwin is facing an uncertain future. Only by learning about his family's past—as warriors, survivors of a smallpox epidemic, casualties of a residential school—will he be able to face the present and embrace the future.

(Source: Strong Nations)


Nicola I. Campbell
Illustrated by Kim Lafave

In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school.

She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world -- the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping.

Richly hued illustrations complement this gently moving and poetic account of a child who finds solace all around her, even though she is on the verge of great loss -- a loss that native people have endured for generations because of the residential schools system.

(Source: House of Anansi Press)

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