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Indigenous Interest

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.


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Spirit of the Grassroots People

- by Raymond Mason

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Raymond Mason is an Ojibway activist who campaigns for the rights of residential school survivors and a founder of Spirit Wind, an organization that played a key role in the development of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement. This memoir offers a firsthand account of the personal and political challenges Mason confronted on this journey. A riveting and at times harrowing read, Spirit of the Grassroots People describes the author's experiences in Indian day and residential schools in Manitoba and his struggles to find meaning in life after trauma and abuse. Mason details the work that he and his colleagues did over many years to gain recognition and compensation for their suffering. Drawing from Indigenous oral traditions as well as Western historiography, the work applies the concept of two-eyed seeing to the histories of colonialism and education in Canada. The memoir is supplemented by a final chapter in which Theodore Michael Christou and Jackson Pind put Mason's story into a historical and educational context. An essential key to understanding the legacy of Indian residential and day schools, this text is both a documentation of history and a deeply personal story of a human experience.

The Barren Grounds

- by David A. Robertson

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Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home -- until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything -- including them.

Noopiming

- by Leanne B. Simpson

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Award-winning Nishnaabeg storyteller and writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson returns with a bold reimagination of the novel, one that combines narrative and poetic fragments through a careful and fierce reclamation of Anishinaabe aesthetics. Mashkawaji (they/them) lies frozen in the ice, remembering a long-ago time of hopeless connection and now finding freedom and solace in isolated suspension. They introduce us to the seven main characters: Akiwenzii, the old man who represents the narrator's will; Ninaatig, the maple tree who represents their lungs; Mindimooyenh, the old woman who represents their conscience; Sabe, the giant who represents their marrow; Adik, the caribou who represents their nervous system; Asin, the human who represents their eyes and ears; and Lucy, the human who represents their brain. Each attempts to commune with the unnatural urban-settler world, a world of SpongeBob Band-Aids, Ziploc baggies, Fjällräven Kånken backpacks, and coffee mugs emblazoned with institutional logos. And each searches out the natural world, only to discover those pockets that still exist are owned, contained, counted, and consumed. Cut off from nature, the characters are cut off from their natural selves. Noopiming is Anishinaabemowin for "in the bush," and the title is a response to English Canadian settler and author Susanna Moodie's 1852 memoir Roughing It in the Bush. To read Simpson's work is an act of decolonization, degentrification, and willful resistance to the perpetuation and dissemination of centuries-old colonial myth-making. It is a lived experience. It is a breaking open of the self to a world alive with people, animals, ancestors, and spirits, who are all busy with the daily labours of healing -- healing not only themselves, but their individual pieces of the network, of the web that connects them all together. Enter and be changed.

Our Hearts Are as One Fire

- by Jerry Fontaine

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A vision shared. A manifesto. This remarkable work argues that Anishinabeg need to reconnect with non-colonized modes of thinking, social organization, and decision making in order to achieve genuine sovereignty. In Our Hearts Are as One Fire, Jerry Fontaine recounts the stories of three Ota'wa, Shawnee, and Ojibway-Anishinabe leaders who challenged aggressive colonial expansion - Obwandiac, Tecumtha, and Shingwauk. He weaves Ojibwaymowin language and knowledge with conversations with elders and descendants of the three leaders. The result is a book that reframes the history of Manitou Aki, sharing a vision of how Anishinabe spiritual, cultural, legal, and political principles will support the leaders of today and tomorrow.

Orange Shirt Day

- by ORANGE SHIRT SOCIETY

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Orange Shirt Day is observed annually on September 30th to honour residential school survivors and their families, and to remember those who did not make it. This book explores the historical impact on Indigenous people in order to create champions who will walk a path of reconciliation through Orange Shirt Day, promoting the message that Every Child Matters.

The Reason You Walk

- by Wab Kinew

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A moving father-son reconciliation told by a charismatic First Nations broadcaster, musician and activist.
          When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who'd raised him. The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father's traumatic childhood at residential school. An intriguing doubleness marks The Reason You Walk, a reference to an Anishinaabe ceremonial song. Born to an Anishinaabe father and a non-native mother, he has a foot in both cultures. He is a Sundancer, an academic, a former rapper, a hereditary chief, and an urban activist. His father, Tobasonakwut, was both a beloved traditional chief and a respected elected leader who engaged directly with Ottawa. Internally divided, his father embraced both traditional native religion and Catholicism, the religion that was inculcated into him at the residential school where he was physically and sexually abused. In a grand gesture of reconciliation, Kinew's father invited the Roman Catholic bishop of Winnipeg to a Sundance ceremony in which he adopted him as his brother. Kinew writes affectingly of his own struggles in his twenties to find the right path, eventually giving up a self-destructive lifestyle to passionately pursue music and martial arts. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its aboriginal history and living presence.
     Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.

The Break

- by Katherena Vermette

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Winner of the 2017 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and the McNally Robinson Book of the Year Awards. When Stella, a young Metis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break -- a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house -- she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim -- police, family, and friends -- tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Metis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg's North End is exposed. A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette's abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

From the Ashes

- by Jesse Thistle

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*#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Nonfiction
*Winner, Indigenous Voices Awards

*Winner, High Plains Book Awards
*Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
*A Globe and Mail Book of the Year
*An Indigo Book of the Year
*A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year


In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute...then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse's drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education--and newfound love--he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.

The Marrow Thieves

- by Cherie Dimaline

Young adult softcover $14.95 - Add to Cart
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Winner of the 2017 Governor General's Literary Award (Young People's Literature - Text)
Winner of the 2017 Kirkus Prize
Winner of the 2018 Sunburst Award
Winner of the 2018 Amy Mathers Teen Book Award

Winner of the 2018 Burt Award for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Young Adult Literature

Just when you think you have nothing left to lose, they come for your dreams.

Humanity has nearly destroyed its world through global warming, but now an even greater evil lurks. The Indigenous people of North America are being hunted and harvested for their bone marrow, which carries the key to recovering something the rest of the population has lost: the ability to dream. In this dark world, Frenchie and his companions struggle to survive as they make their way up north to the old lands. For now, survival means staying hidden - but what they don't know is that one of them holds the secret to defeating the marrow thieves.

Just Pretending

- by Lisa Bird-wilson

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A debut short story collection from one of Canada's most exciting new Aboriginal voices. "In our family, it was Trish who was Going To Be Trouble; I was Such a Good Girl." At times haunting, at times hilarious, Just Pretending explores the moments in life that send us down pathways predetermined and not-yet-forged. These are the liminal, defining moments that mark irreversible transitions n girl to mother, confinement to freedom, wife to murderer. They are the melodramatic car-crash moments n the outcomes both horrific and too fascinating to tear our eyes from. And they are the unnoticed, infinitely tiny moments, seemingly insignificant (even ridiculous) yet holding the power to alter, to transform, to make strange. What links these stories is a sense of characters working n both with success and without, through action or reaction n to separate reality from perception and to make these moments into their lives' new truths.

The Evolution of Alice

- by David Alex Robertson

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From the award-winning author of Black Water comes this kaleidoscopic story of one woman's place within the web of community.

Alice is a single mother raising her three young daughters on the rez where she grew up. Life has never been easy, but she's managed to get by with the support of her best friend, Gideon, and her family. When an unthinkable loss occurs, Alice is forced to confront truths that will challenge her belief in herself and the world she thought she knew.

Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, this is a novel where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters.

Reissued with a new story by David A. Robertson and foreword by Shelagh Rogers.

Black Water

- by David A. Robertson

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A Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of the Year
A Quill & Quire Book of the Year
A CBC Books Nonfiction Book of the Year
A Maclean's 20 Books You Need to Read this Winter

"An instant classic that demands to be read with your heart open and with a perspective widened to allow in a whole new understanding of family, identity and love." --Cherie Dimaline

In this bestselling memoir, a son who grew up away from his Indigenous culture takes his Cree father on a trip to the family trapline and finds that revisiting the past not only heals old wounds but creates a new future

The son of a Cree father and a white mother, David A. Robertson grew up with virtually no awareness of his Indigenous roots. His father, Dulas--or Don, as he became known--lived on the trapline in the bush in Manitoba, only to be transplanted permanently to a house on the reserve, where he couldn't speak his language, Swampy Cree, in school with his friends unless in secret. David's mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town that had no Indigenous people until Don arrived as the new United Church minister. They married and had three sons, whom they raised unconnected to their Indigenous history.

David grew up without his father's teachings or any knowledge of his early experiences. All he had was "blood memory": the pieces of his identity ingrained in the fabric of his DNA, pieces that he has spent a lifetime putting together. It has been the journey of a young man becoming closer to who he is, who his father is and who they are together, culminating in a trip back to the trapline to reclaim their connection to the land.

Black Water is a memoir about intergenerational trauma and healing, about connection and about how Don's life informed David's own. Facing up to a story nearly erased by the designs of history, father and son journey together back to the trapline at Black Water and through the past to create a new future.  

Trickster Drift

- by Eden Robinson

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Following the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted Son of a Trickster comes Trickster Drift, a national bestseller and the second book in Eden Robinson's captivating Trickster trilogy.

Jared Martin, seventeen, has quit drugs and drinking. But his troubles are not over: the temptation to slip is constant (thanks to his enabling, ever-partying mom, Maggie). He's being stalked by David, his mom's ex--a preppy, khaki-wearing psycho with a proclivity for rib-breaking. And Maggie, a witch as well as a badass, can't protect him like she used to because he's moved from Kitimat to Vancouver for school.
     He figures that in order to be safe from both magic, addiction and David, he's got to get his grades up, find a job that doesn't involve selling weed cookies, and learn how to live with his Aunt Mave, who has been estranged from the family ever since she tried to "rescue" him as a baby from his mother. Though she smothers him with hugs, Mave is blind to the real dangers that lurk around them--the spirits and supernatural activity that fill her apartment.
     As the son of a Trickster, Jared is a magnet for magic, whether he hates it or not. He sees ghosts, he sees the monster moving underneath his Aunt Georgina's skin, he sees the creature that comes out of his bedroom wall and creepily wants to suck his toes. He also still hears his father in his head, and other voices too. When David finally catches up with him, Jared can't ignore his true nature any longer. And neither can anyone else he loves.

Son of a Trickster

- by Eden Robinson

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CANADA READS 2020 FINALIST

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

More than ten years after her Giller-shortlisted title Monkey Beach, Eden Robinson returns with a striking and precise coming-of-age novel, in which everyday teen existence meets Indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics and cannibalistic river otters.


Meet Jared Martin: sixteen-year-old pot cookie dealer, smoker, drinker and son with the scariest mom ever. But Jared's the pot dealer with a heart of gold--really. Compassionate, caring, and nurturing by nature, Jared's determined to help hold his family together--whether that means supporting his dad's new family with the proceeds from his baking or caring for his elderly neighbours. But when it comes to being cared and loved, Jared knows he can't rely on his family. His only source of love and support was his flatulent pit bull Baby, but she's dead. And then there's the talking ravens and the black outs and his grandmother's perpetual suspicion that he is not human, but the son of a trickster.

Indian Ernie

- by Ernie Louttit

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When he began his career with the Saskatoon Police in 1987, Ernie Louttit was only the city's third native police officer. "Indian Ernie", as he came to be known on the streets, details an era of challenge, prejudice, and also tremendous change in urban policing which included the Stonechild Inquiry. Drawing from his childhood, army career, and service as a veteran patrol officer, Louttit shares stories of criminals and victims, the night shift, avoiding politics, but most of all, the realities of the marginalized and disenfranchised. Though Louttit's story is characterized by conflict, danger, and violence, he argues that empathy and love for the community you serve are the greatest tools in any officer's hands, especially when policing society's less fortunate.

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