#IndigenousReads December 2018 campaign

This December, give the gift of reading and share the captivating stories written by Indigenous authors from all over Canada with those around you. Reading is a powerful educational tool that we can use to learn about the history, culture and experiences of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Join the conversation and share what your favourite books are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #IndigenousReads!

To see our past #IndigenousReads recommendations, visit our reading list.

Una Huna?: What is this?

Susan Aglukark

Ukpik loves living in her camp in the North with her family. When a captain from the south arrives to trade with Ukpik’s father, Ukpik is excited to learn how to use the forks, knives, and spoons he brings with him.

At first, Ukpik enjoys teaching the other children how to use these new tools. But soon, she starts to wonder if they’ll need to use the new tools all the time, and if that means that everything in camp will change.

After a conversation with her grandmother, Ukpik realizes that even though she will learn many new things, her love for her family and camp will never change.

(Source: Inhabit Media)

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes

Wab Kinew
Illustrated by Joe Morse

"We are a people who matter." Inspired by President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, Go Show the World is a tribute to historic and modern-day Indigenous heroes, featuring important figures such as Tecumseh, Sacagawea and former NASA astronaut John Herrington.

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book, illustrated by the acclaimed Joe Morse. Including figures such as Crazy Horse, Net-no-kwa, former NASA astronaut John Herrington and Canadian NHL goalie Carey Price, Go Show the World showcases a diverse group of Indigenous people in the US and Canada, both the more well known and the not- so-widely recognized. Individually, their stories, though briefly touched on, are inspiring; collectively, they empower the reader with this message: "We are people who matter, yes, it’s true; now let’s show the world what people who matter can do."

(Source: Penguin Random House)

Heart Berries: A Memoir

Terese Marie Mailhot

Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Band in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father—an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist—who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.

(Source: Counterpoint Press)

He Who Dreams

Melanie Florence

Juggling soccer, school, friends and family leaves John with little time for anything else. But one day at the local community center, following the sound of drums, he stumbles into an Indigenous dance class. Before he knows what's happening, John finds himself stumbling through beginner classes with a bunch of little girls, skipping soccer practice and letting his other responsibilities slide. When he attends a pow wow and witnesses a powerful performance, he realizes that he wants to be a dancer more than anything. But the nearest class for boys is at the Native Cultural Center in the city, and he still hasn't told his family or friends about his new passion. If he wants to dance, he will have to stop hiding. Between the mocking of his teammates and the hostility of the boys in his dance class, John must find a way to balance and embrace both the Irish and Cree sides of his heritage.

(Source: Orca Book Publishers)

This Wound is a World

Billy-Ray Belcourt

Part manifesto, part memoir, This Wound is a World is an invitation to "cut a hole in the sky to world inside." Billy-Ray Belcourt issues a call to turn to love and sex to understand how Indigenous peoples shoulder sadness and pain like theirs without giving up on the future. His poems upset genre and play with form, scavenging for a decolonial kind of heaven where "everyone is at least a little gay."

(Source: Frontenac House)

What’s my Superpower?

Aviaq Johnston
Illustrated by Tim Mack

Nalvana feels like all of her friends have some type of superpower. She has friends with super speed (who always beat her in races), friends with super strength (who can dangle from the monkey bars for hours), and friends who are better than her at a million other things.

Nalvana thinks she must be the only kid in town without a superpower.

But then her mom shows Nalvana that she is unique and special—and that her superpower was right in front of her all along.

(Source: Inhabit Media)

Monsters

David Alexander Robertson

Cole Harper is struggling to settle into life in Wounded Sky First Nation. He may have stopped a serial killer, but the trouble is far from over. A creature lurks in the shadows of Blackwood Forest, the health clinic is on lockdown by a mysterious organization, and long-held secrets threaten to bubble to the surface. Can Cole learn the truth about his father’s death? Why won’t Choch give him a straight answer? Where the heck is Jayne? Oh, and high school sucks.

(Source: Highwater Press)

Takannaaluk

Herve Paniaq
Illustrated by Germaine Arnaktauyok

"Takannaaluk" means "the one down there"—a term used in Canada’s High Arctic to refer to the most important being in Inuit mythology. Also known by Sedna, Nuliajuk, and many other names, Takannaaluk came to be both feared and respected as the mother of the sea mammals. But her story begins with a betrayal.

As a young woman, Takannaaluk is tricked into marrying a sea bird posing as a man and then abandoned by her family. In this unique picture book, her story is brought to vivid life by respected elder Herve Paniaq and renowned artist Germaine Arnaktauyok.

(Source: Inhabit Media)

Red River Resistance (A Girl Called Echo) Vol. 2

Katherena Vermette

Picking up where Pemmican Wars left off, Red River Resistance sees Echo Desjardins adjusting to her new home, finding friends, and learning about Métis history. One ordinary afternoon in class, Echo finds herself transported through time to the banks of the Red River in the summer of 1869. All is not well in the territory, as Canadian surveyors have arrived and Métis families, who have lived there for generations, are losing access to their land. As the Resistance takes hold, Echo fears for her friends and the future of her people in the Red River Valley.

Red River Resistance is volume two in the graphic novel series, A Girl Called Echo, by Katherena Vermette, a Governor General Award–winning writer and author of The Seven Teaching Stories.

(Source: Highwater Press)

Split Tooth

Tanya Tagaq

Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals, and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.

Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget.

(Source: Penguin Random House)

The Origin of Day and Night

Written by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt
Illustrated by Lenny Lishchenko

In very early times, there was no night or day, and words spoken by chance could become real. When a hare and a fox meet and express their longing for light and darkness, their words are powerful enough to change the world forever.

Passed orally from storyteller to storyteller for hundreds of years, this beautiful illustrated story weaves together elements of an origin story and a traditional animal tale, giving young readers a window into Inuit mythology.

(Source: Inhabit Media)

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