Read the powerful stories and rich history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and North America with the books listed below.
There are, of course, hundreds, if not thousands of titles that we could include in this list, however we wanted to focus primarily on recent titles as well as those that have a strong legacy.
We are also continually updating this list as we discover new books by or about Indigenous Peoples, and if you feel that we should include a particular title or author we encourage you to contact us with more information.
Indigenous Resistance and Development in Winnipeg
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Tracing through Indigenous institutional development in Winnipeg, and providing a unique perspective on the history of Indigenous housing development, education, and economic development, Indigenous Resistance and Development in Winnipeg 1960-2000 explores Indigenous resistance in Winnipeg through the work of various Winnipeg institutions, including The Indian and Métis Friendship Centre, Children of the Earth and Niji Mahkwa schools, The Indigenous Women?s Collective of Manitoba: Dibenimisowin (We Own Ourselves), the Ma Maw Wi Chi Itata Centre, The Native Women?s Transition Centre, and Two Spirited People of Manitoba, among others. Taking on a rich historical grounding and encompassing a new generation of Indigenous organizing, this is the first book that explores Winnipeg history exclusively through the impactful development and resistance work of Indigenous organizations. Contributors include Nicole Lamy, Shauna MacKinnon, Kathy Mallett, Lawrie Deane, Lynne Fernandez, Doris Young, Annetta Armstrong, Josie Hill, John Loxley, Chantal Fiola, and Albert McLeod.
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**SOON TO BE A MAJOR NETFLIX FILM**
"An extraordinary novel. A coming-of-age-story you will get lost in." --Fredrik Backman, internationally bestselling author of The Winners
Part coming-of-age novel, part sweeping family saga, and part love song to a disappearing natural world, Stolen is the internationally bestselling and award-winning debut novel about a young Sámi girl and her struggle to defend her family's reindeer herd and their traditional way of life--for readers of Katherena Vermette and Michelle Good.
It is winter, north of the Arctic Circle. A few hours of pale light is all the sun has to offer before the landscape is once more enveloped in complete darkness. This is Sápmi, land of the Sámi, Scandinavia's Indigenous people.
Nine-year-old Elsa is the daughter of Sámi reindeer herders. Her community is under constant threat--from the Swedish population who don't always value the Sámi way of life, from the government that wants to claim their land for mining, and from violent poachers who slaughter their reindeer for sport and for sale on the black market.
One morning, when Elsa goes skiing alone, she witnesses a man brutally killing her beloved reindeer calf. Elsa is terrified by what she sees. Fearing for her own life and for the lives of her family members, she remains silent.
Ten years pass, and Elsa is now trying to claim a role for herself in her community, where male elders expect young women to know their place. Meanwhile, the hostility toward the Sámi continues to escalate, and the police won't do anything to protect them. When Elsa becomes the target of the man who killed her reindeer calf all those years ago, something inside of her breaks. The guilt, fear, and anger she's been carrying since childhood come crashing over her, leading to a final catastrophic confrontation.
Told in three parts, Stolen is a powerful, propulsive, and cinematic novel about a courageous young Sámi woman struggling to defend her Indigenous heritage against the cruelty of the modern world for justice and for the future of her people.
k-p-isi-kiskisiyn / The Way I Remember
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A residential school survivor finds his way back to his language and culture through his family's traditional stories.
When reflecting on forces that have shaped his life, Solomon Ratt says his education was interrupted by his schooling. Torn from his family at the age of six, Ratt was placed into the residential school system--a harsh, institutional world, operated in a language he could not yet understand, far from the love and comfort of home and family. In kâ-pî-isi-kiskisiyân / The Way I Remember, Ratt reflects on these memories and the life-long challenges he endured through his telling of âcimisowin--autobiographical stories--and also traditional tales.
Written over the course of several decades, Ratt describes his life before, during, and after residential school. In many ways, these stories reflect the experience of thousands of other Indigenous children across Canada, but Ratt's stories also stand apart in a significant way: he managed to retain his mother language of Cree by returning home to his parents each summer despite the destruction wrought by colonialism.
Ratt then shifts from the âcimisowina (personal, autobiographical stories) to âcathôhkîwina, (sacred stories) the more formal and commonly recognized style of traditional Cree literature, to illustrate how, in a world uninterrupted by colonialism and its agenda of genocide, these traditional stories would have formed the winter curriculum of a Cree child's education.
Presented in Cree Th-dialect Standard Roman Orthography, syllabics, and English, Ratt's reminiscences of residential school escapades almost always end with a close call and a smile. Even when his memories are dark, Ratt's particularly Cree sense of humour shines, making kâ-pî-isi-kiskisiyân /The Way I Remember an important and unique memoir that emphasizes and celebrates Solomon Ratt's perseverance and life after residential school.
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A haunting debut novel where dreams, family and spirits collide
Mackenzie, a Cree millennial, wakes up in her one-bedroom Vancouver apartment clutching a pine bough she had been holding in her dream just moments earlier. When she blinks, it disappears. But she can still smell the sharp pine scent in the air, the nearest pine tree a thousand kilometres away in the far reaches of Treaty 8.
Mackenzie continues to accidentally bring back items from her dreams, dreams that are eerily similar to real memories of her older sister and Kokum before their untimely deaths. As Mackenzie's life spirals into a living nightmare--crows are following her around and she's getting texts from her dead sister on the other side--it becomes clear that these dreams have terrifying, real-life consequences. Desperate for help, Mackenzie returns to her mother, sister, cousin, and aunties in her small Alberta hometown. Together, they try to uncover what is haunting Mackenzie before something irrevocable happens to anyone else around her.
Haunting, fierce, an ode to female relations and the strength found in kinship, Bad Cree is a gripping, arresting debut by an unforgettable voice.
Opimotewina wina kapagamawat Witigowa / Journeys of The One to Strike the Wetigo
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A first-hand account of a Swampy Cree boy's experiences helping his father in muskrat trapping, commercial fishing, and guiding of hunters in the upstream region of the Saskatchewan River Delta, Opimotewina wina kapagamawat Witigowa / Journeys of The One to Strike the Wetigo contains interviews, stories, and photographs depicting what life in Northern Saskatchewan was like in the past, and how the effect of commercial fishing and hunting, hydro-electric dams, and other Western endeavours have impacted a certain Indigenous lifestyle that existed way past the Fur Trade era.
nehiyawetan kikinahk / Speaking Cree in the Home
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Speaking Cree in the Home, Belinda Daniels and Andrea Custer provide an introductory text to help families immerse themselves, their children, and their homes in nehiyawewin--the Cree language.
Despite the colonial attacks on Cree culture, language, and peoples, Custer and Daniels remind readers that the traditional ways of knowing and transferring knowledge to younger generations have not been lost and can be revived in the home, around the table, every day.
Speaking Cree in the Home is an approachable, hands-on manual that helps to re-forge connections between identity, language, family, and community--by centering Indigenous knowledge and providing Cree learners and speakers with a practical guide to begin their own journey of reclaiming and revitalizing Cree in the home.
Readers are guided through methods for language learning, the basics of reading Cree and Standard Roman Orthography, pronunciation of vowels, engaging language-learning games, and examples of high-frequency words and phrases that can easily be incorporated into daily routines and taught to children young and old.
All Roads Home
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A poignant and inspiring memoir of the people and challenges that shaped the life and career of Canada's most decorated Indigenous athlete.
Over the course of his incredible career, Bryan Trottier set a new standard of hockey excellence. A seven-time Stanley Cup champion (four with the New York Islanders, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and one as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche), Trottier won countless awards and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was named one of the NHL's Top 100 Players of All Time.
Trottier grew up in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, the son of a Cree/Chippewa/Metis father and an Irish-Canadian mother. All Roads Home offers a poignant, funny, wise, and inspiring look at his coming of age, both on and off the ice. It is a unique memoir in which Trottier shares stories about family, friends, teammates, and coaches, the lessons that he has learned from them, and the profound impact they have had in shaping the person he has become.
Some of the incredible characters featured in the book include Trottier's father Buzz; legendary Islanders coach Al Arbour; teammates Clark Gillies and Mike Bossy; and the Penguins' Mario Lemieux, to name but a few. He'll also talk about the high school English teacher and guidance counsellor who helped him develop self-confidence and encouraged him as a writer: Governor General's Award-winning poet, Lorna Crozier.
All Roads Home will also include a Foreword from bestselling author Jesse Thistle (From the Ashes) and two very special Afterwords: one from Trottier's daughter, Lindsy Ruthven, and the other from his life-long friend, beloved hockey great Dave "Tiger" Williams.
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From the winner of the 2021 Governor General's Award for literature, a revelatory look into an obscured piece of Canadian history: what was then called the Eskimo Identification Tag System In 2001, Dr. Norma Dunning applied to the Nunavut Beneficiary program, requesting enrolment to legally solidify her existence as an Inuk woman. But in the process, she was faced with a question she could not answer, tied to a colonial institution retired decades ago: "What was your disc number?" Still haunted by this question years later, Dunning took it upon herself to reach out to Inuit community members who experienced the Eskimo Identification Tag System first-hand, providing vital perspective and nuance to the scant records available on the subject. Written with incisive detail and passion, Dunning provides readers with a comprehensive look into a bureaucracy sustained by the Canadian government for over thirty years, neglected by history books but with lasting echoes revealed in Dunning's intimate interviews with affected community members. Not one government has taken responsibility or apologized for the E-number system to date -- a symbol of the blatant dehumanizing treatment of the smallest Indigenous population in Canada. A necessary and timely offering, Kinauvit? provides a critical record and response to a significant piece of Canadian history, collecting years of research, interviews and personal stories from an important voice in Canadian literature.
Fragments of Truth
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In 2008, the Canadian government established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) to review the history of the residential school system, a brutal colonial project that killed and injured many Indigenous children and left a legacy of trauma and pain. In Fragments of Truth Naomi Angel analyzes the visual culture of reconciliation and memory in relation to this complex and painful history. In her analyses of archival photographs from the residential school system, representations of the schools in popular media and literature, and testimonies from TRC proceedings, Angel traces how the TRC served as a mechanism through which memory, trauma, and visuality became apparent. She shows how many Indigenous communities were able to use the TRC process as a way to claim agency over their memories of the schools. Bringing to light the ongoing costs of transforming settler states into modern nations, Angel demonstrates how the TRC offers a unique optic through which to survey the long history of colonial oppression of Canada's Indigenous populations.
Running Down a Dream
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A powerful, often funny, always inspiring memoir from a beloved comedian, professional orator, actor, entertainer, gone all too soon.
Candy Palmater loved to connect with people. She lived for the stage, her effervescent presence on television and radio ignited and inspired audiences, touching them with her warm, often spicy humour as well as her positive message about love and kindness. And she always believed that it is never too late to pursue our dreams and that we should never allow others to negatively influence our life's desires.
Candy described herself as a queer Mi'kmaw lawyer-turned-comic raised by bikers in rural New Brunswick and on the surface, she met with enormous success - on leaving government and the practice of law, she started a career as a stand-up comedian, which led to starring in five successful seasons of her own national TV show, hosting many radio shows and co-guest hosting CTV's The Social, and landing a recurring role on a hot new sitcom in her fifties. But she is the first to tell you she made all kinds of mistakes and experienced all kinds of failure along the way. Running Down a Dream is Candy's story, in her own words, of the highs, the lows, the moments of doubt, the turning points when she listened to her gut and tuned out all the people saying no. It's also a tribute to her family and the love that always bolstered her, despite their own hard times. She shares her stories to inspire us to embrace our failures and to believe in ourselves. And most importantly, Running Down a Dream is a call to love ourselves for who we are.
The world lost Candy in late 2021, and yet she left us with this gift -- a memoir and a message that will inspire us for years to come.
The Power of Story
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Award-winning Indigenous author Harold R. Johnson discusses the promise and potential of storytelling. Approached by an ecumenical society representing many faiths, from Judeo-Christians to fellow members of First Nations, Harold R. Johnson agreed to host a group who wanted to hear him speak about the power of storytelling. This book is the outcome of that gathering. In The Power of Story, Johnson explains the role of storytelling in every aspect of human life, from personal identity to history and the social contracts that structure our societies, and illustrates how we can direct its potential to re-create and reform not only our own lives, but the life we share. Companionable, clear-eyed, and, above all, optimistic, Johnson's message is both a dire warning and a direct invitation to each of us to imagine and create, together, the world we want to live in.
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In this final installation of the Overhead Series, Lucy Hemphill once again transports the reader with intimate revelations on identity by exploring both her personal and ancestral relationship to the forest and the quiet sentinels that root together everything. Hemphill's prose is extraordinary in its combination of self awareness yet unselfconscious honesty and skillful restraint, creating a sense of connection under the tangle of foliage and limb that ever-reach skyward. Masterfully illustrated by artist Michael Joyal, his evocative dendrological drawings contribute to the overall sensory and transcendent experience.
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Magodiz (Anishinabe language): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country. Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, controlled by the Madjideye, a faceless, formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population. A'tugwewinu is the last survivor of the Andwanikadjigan. On the run from the Madjideye with her lover, Bel, a descendant of the Warrior Nation, they seek to share what the world has forgotten: stories. In Pasakamate, both Shkitagen, the firekeeper of his generation, and his life's heart, Nitawesi, whose hands mend bones and cure sickness, attempt to find a home where they can raise children in peace without fear of slavers or rising waters. In Zhong yang, Riordan wheels around just fine, leading xir gang of misfits in hopes of surviving until until the next meal. However, Elite Enforcer H-09761 (Yun Seo, who was abducted as a child, then tortured and brainwashed into servitude) is determined to arrest Riordan for theft of resources and will stop at nothing to bring xir to the Madjideye. In a ruined world, six people collide, discovering family and foes, navigating friendship and love, and reclaiming the sacredness of the gifts they carry. With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, of transcending gender, Magodiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.
This House Is Not a Home
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After a hunting trip one fall, a family in the far reaches of so-called Canada's north return to nothing but an empty space where their home once stood. Finding themselves suddenly homeless, they have no choice but to assimilate into settler-colonial society in a mining town that has encroached on their freedom.
An intergenerational coming-of-age novel, This House Is Not a Home follows Ko, a Dene man who grew up entirely on the land before being taken to residential school. When he finally returns home, he struggles to connect with his family: his younger brother whom he has never met, his mother because he has lost his language, and an absent father whose disappearance he is too afraid to question.
The third book from acclaimed Dene, Cree and Metis writer Katlià, This House Is Not a Home is a fictional story based on true events. Visceral and embodied, heartbreaking and spirited, this book presents a clear trajectory of how settlers dispossessed Indigenous Peoples of their land -- and how Indigenous communities, with dignity and resilience, continue to live and honour their culture, values, inherent knowledge systems, and Indigenous rights towards re-establishing sovereignty. Fierce and unflinching, this story is a call for land back.
Serpents and Other Spiritual Beings
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Serpents and Other Spiritual Beings is the second book in a series by renowned Ojibwe storyteller Bomgiizhik Isaac Murdoch, following on The Trail of Nenaboozhoo and Other Creation Stories (2019). Serpents and Other Spiritual Beings is a collection of traditional Ojibwe/Anishinaabe stories transliterated directly from Murdoch's oral storytelling. Part history, legend, and mythology, these are stories of tradition, magic and transformation, morality and object lessons, involving powerful spirit-beings in serpent form. The stories appear in both English and Anishinaabemowin, with translations by Patricia BigGeorge. Murdoch's traditional-style Ojibwe artwork provides beautiful illustrations throughout.