Today’s post is by Tiffany Gerro-Holder, our co-op student from Mohawk College.
National Indigenous History Month
During this month, we recognize and celebrate the history of our Indigenous communities by exploring the heritage and diversity of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Metis communities, and the numerous language families and cultures belonging to our Indigenous communities.
June 21 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement announcing the date would thereby be recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day. Though it may appear the date has been chosen at random, June 21st marks the summer solstice – the day of the longest light which has held spiritual significance for various communities for centuries.
Tsi Niio:re Enkarakhotenhseke – Janet Marie Rogers
Tsi Niió:re Enkarakhoténhseke, a Mohawk translation of As Long as the Sun Shines, creatively reveals the beautiful and bitter essences of the world from a distinctive Indigenous female voice. Inspired by her recent global travels, experiences, relationships and Haudenosaunee perspective, the poet unapologetically sings words of midlife wisdom and cultural confidence. By using this creative foundation to unite distinctive communities, the author expresses raw emotion throughout her journey toward inner peace from a uniquely Indigenous point of view. It is this strong expression that the poet hopes will become a global guide for her communities to follow and interpret while encountering their truths and identity. (Source: BookLandPress)
Disintegrate/Dissociate – Arielle Twist
In her powerful debut collection of poetry, Arielle Twist unravels the complexities of human relationships after death and metamorphosis. In these spare yet powerful poems, she explores, with both rage and tenderness, the parameters of grief, trauma, displacement, and identity. Weaving together a past made murky by uncertainty and a present which exists in multitudes, Arielle Twist poetically navigates through what it means to be an Indigenous trans woman, discovering the possibilities of a hopeful future and a transcendent, beautiful path to regaining softness. (Source: Arsenal Pulp Press)
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)
An Honest Woman – Jónína Kirton
An Honest Woman by Jónína Kirton confronts us with beauty and ugliness in the wholesome riot that is sex, love, and marriage. From the perspective of a mixed-race woman, Kirton engages with Simone de Beauvoir and Donald Trump to unravel the norms of femininity and sexuality that continue to adhere today.
Kirton recalls her own upbringing, during which she was told to find a good husband who would “make an honest woman” out of her. Exploring the lives of many women, including her mother, her contemporaries, and well-known sex-crime stories such as the case of Elisabeth Fritzl, Kirton mines the personal to loosen the grip of patriarchal and colonial impositions.
An Honest Woman explores the many ways the female body is shaped by questions that have been too political to ask: What happens when a woman decides to take her sexuality into her own hands, dismissing cultural norms and the expectations of her parents? How is a young woman’s sexuality influenced when she is perceived as an “exotic” other? Can a woman reconnect with her Indigenous community by choosing Indigenous lovers?
Daring and tender in their honesty and wisdom, these poems challenge the perception of women’s bodies as glamorous and marketable commodities and imagine an embodied female experience that accommodates the role of creativity and a nurturing relationship with the land. (Source: Nightwood Editions)
North End Love Songs – Katherena Vermette
For Katherena Vermette, Winnipeg’s North End is a neighbourhood of colourful birds, stately elms, and always wily rivers. It is where a brother’s disappearance is trivialized by local media and police because he is young and aboriginal. It is also where young girls share secrets, movies, cigarettes, Big Gulps and stories of love; where a young mother full of both maternal trepidation and joy watches her small daughters as they play in the park.
“In North End Love Songs, Katherena Vermette uses spare language and brief, telling sketches to illuminate the aviary of a prairie neighbourhood. Vermette’s love songs are unconventional and imminent, an examination and a celebration of family and community in all weathers, the beautiful as well as the less clement conditions. This collection is a very moving tribute, to the girls and the women, the boys and the men, and the loving trouble that has forever transpired between us.” Joanne Arnott. (Source: Chapters)
The Red Flies – Lisa Bird-Wilson
This debut poetry collection from Lisa Bird-Wilson reflects on the legacy of the residential school system: the fragmentation of families and histories with blows that resonate through the generations.
Inspired by family and archival sources, Bird-Wilson assembles scraps of a history torn apart by colonial violence. The collection takes its name from the federal government’s complex organizational structure of residential schools archives, which are divided into “black files” and “red files.” In vignettes as clear as glass beads, her poems offer affection to generations of children whose presence within the historic record is ghostlike, anonymous and ephemeral.
The collection also explores the larger political context driving the mechanisms that tore apart families and cultures, including the Sixties Scoop. It depicts moments of resistance, both personal and political, as well as official attempts at reconciliation: “I can hold in the palm of my right hand / all that I have left: one story-gift from an uncle, / a father’s surname, treaty card, Cree accent echo, metal bits, grit— / and I will still have room to cock a fist.”
The Red Files concludes with a fierce hopefulness, embracing the various types of love that can begin to heal the traumas inflicted by a legacy of violence. (Source: Harbour Publishing)
#IndianLovePoems – Tenille K. Campbell
Covering Indigenous adventures from Wahpole Island to Northern Saskatchewan to the West Coast, #IndianLovePoems is a poetry collection that humorously delves into the truths of love and lust within Indigenous communities. The poetic speaker, a First Nations Donna Giovanni, relates stories of her search for The One, or even better, that One-Night-Stand, in heated lines that fearlessly shed light on the intimacy and honesty that may arise even from the most fleeting encounter, leading to reflection on the complexities of sex, race, culture, and intention within relationships. From discovering your own John Smith to sharing sushi in bed, #IndianLovePoems will bring a smile to your lips as you are reminded of your own stories about that special someone. (Source: Signature Editions)
Witness, I am – Gregory Scofield
Witness, I Am is divided into three gripping sections of new poetry from one of Canada’s most recognized poets. The first part of the book, “Dangerous Sound,” contains contemporary themed poems about identity and belonging, undone and rendered into modern sound poetry. “Muskrat Woman,” the middle part of the book, is a breathtaking epic poem that considers the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women through the reimagining and retelling of a sacred Cree creation story. The final section of the book, “Ghost Dance,” raids the autobiographical so often found in Scofield’s poetry, weaving the personal and universal into a tapestry of sharp poetic luminosity.(Source: Nightwood Editions)
Imagine Mercy – David Groulx
Imagine Mercy is a vibrant poetry collection portraying the daily realities of living as an Aboriginal in Canada. David Groulx seamlessly weaves the spiritual with the ordinary and the present with the past. He speaks for the strength and courage of Aboriginal people, compelling readers to confront reality with his honest and inspiring vision. Remarkable in its candour and gracefully constructed, this collection of poems binds us to the present and, at the same time, connects us to the voices of the past. (Source: Palliser Reginal Library)
Bâtons à message Tshissinuatshitakana – Joséphine Bacon
This bilingual work (French and Innu Aimun) is an invitation to dialogue. Bâtons à message (message sticks) refer to a set of landmarks that allow nomads to move inland and find their way or voice.
(Book not available in English)
(Source : Radio Canada)
Trickster Drift – Eden Robinson
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. (Source: Penguin Random House)
Fire Song – Adam Garnet Jones
How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life? Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she’s too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves—his friend, David.(Source: Annick Pres)
This Place: 150 Years Retold – Various Authors
Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact. (Source: Portage and Main 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)
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)
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)
The Outside Circle – Patti LaBoucane-Benson, Illustrated by Kelly Mellings
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.
Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a big fight, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey, which encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.
Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.
(Source: House of Anansi Press)
Dear Canada: These are my Words. The Residential School Diary of Violet Pesheens – Ruby Slipperjack
Violet Pesheens has been taken to Residential School. She misses her Grandma; she has run-ins with Cree girls; at her “white” school, everyone just stares; and everything she brought has been taken from her, including her name—she is now just a number. But worst of all, she has a fear. A fear of forgetting the things she treasures most: her Anishnabe language; the names of those she knew before; and her traditional customs. A fear of forgetting who she was.
Her notebook is the one place she can record all of her worries, and heartbreaks, and memories. And maybe, just maybe there will be hope at the end of the tunnel.
Drawing from her own experiences at Residential School, Ruby Slipperjack creates a brave, yet heartbreaking heroine in Violet, and lets young readers glimpse into an all-too important chapter in our nation’s history. (Source: Scholastic Canada)
Curse of the Shaman: A Marble Island Story – Michael Kusugak, Illustrated by Vladyana Krykorka
Sometimes even shamans get cranky. That was baby Wolverine’s misfortune—to be cursed by an out-of-sorts shaman frustrated by his own baby daughter’s incessant crying. Not only has shaman Paaliaq forbidden the future marriage of Wolverine to Breath, Paaliaq’s beautiful but teary baby girl, he has cursed Wolverine, banishing him when he becomes a young man. And even when a contrite Paaliaq later revokes the curse, the shaman’s even crankier magic animal will not. Now Wolverine finds himself stranded on a barren island, locked in a life-or-death struggle to return to his home, his family and a very special young girl.
Michael Kusugak, consummate storyteller and bestselling author, conjures up an Inuit tale of adventure, perseverance and first-time love shot through with humanity and humour. This is a story perfect for its pre-teen and ‘tween audience, where even the strong and the mighty have bad days, the bully gets his due and a dream can come true. (Source: Harper Collins)
Son of a Trickster – Eden Robinson
Shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize: With striking originality and precision, Eden Robinson, the author of the classic Monkey Beach and winner of the Writers’ Trust of Canada Fellowship, blends humour with heartbreak in this compelling coming-of-age novel. Everyday teen existence meets indigenous beliefs, crazy family dynamics, and cannibalistic river otters . . . The exciting first novel in her trickster trilogy.
Everyone knows a guy like Jared: the burnout kid in high school who sells weed cookies and has a scary mom who’s often wasted and wielding some kind of weapon. Jared does smoke and drink too much, and he does make the best cookies in town, and his mom is a mess, but he’s also a kid who has an immense capacity for compassion and an impulse to watch over people more than twice his age, and he can’t rely on anyone for consistent love and support, except for his flatulent pit bull, Baby Killer (he calls her Baby)–and now she’s dead.
Jared can’t count on his mom to stay sober and stick around to take care of him. He can’t rely on his dad to pay the bills and support his new wife and step-daughter. Jared is only sixteen but feels like he is the one who must stabilize his family’s life, even look out for his elderly neighbours. But he struggles to keep everything afloat…and sometimes he blacks out. And he puzzles over why his maternal grandmother has never liked him, why she says he’s the son of a trickster, that he isn’t human. Mind you, ravens speak to him–even when he’s not stoned.
You think you know Jared, but you don’t. (Source: Chapters)
Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection – Hope Nicholson
MOONSHOT is a collection of short stories created by indigenous writers and incredible artists in Canada and the US. From traditional stories to exciting new visions of the future, this collection presents some of the finest comic book and graphic novel work in North America. The traditional stories presented in the book are with the permission from the elders in their respective communities, making this a truly genuine, never-before-seen publication. MOONSHOT is an incredible collection will amaze, intrigue and entertain! (Source: AH Comics)
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)
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)
Lightfinder – Aaron Paquette, Illustrated by Aaron Paquette
Written & illustrated by Aaron Paquette.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? (Source: Kegedonce Press)
APPS – Reconciliation: A Starting Point
This mobile app is a free reference tool to access key historical events and examples of reconciliation initiatives. The app teaches users about Frist Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples, and the importance of, and how to advance reconciliation initiatives with Indigenous communities in Canada. This app has been developed with contributions from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, as well as with the support of the Federal Government.
Click the image to download:
The DriftScape App, found in the App Store and on Google Play, features a 22 kilometre walking tour titled “Indigenous Storytelling and Knowledge along the Lower Don,” created in partnership with Myseum of Toronto.
Virtual Museum Tour – First Peoples of Canada: Presenting the History and Continuing Presence of Aboriginal People in Canada
This virtual exhibition looks at some facets of the history of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples, underlining their fight for cultural survival and indicating the wealth of their modern-day contributions. It is based largely on information and artifacts presented in the First Peoples Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization. Neither pretends to be a comprehensive presentation of the history of all the Native groups in Canada. Rather, aspects of cultural identity are explored through four themes: the diversity of Aboriginal cultural expression; how the Aboriginal presence manifests itself within present-day Canada; the adaptation of traditional lifestyles to different environments across Canada; and the impact of the arrival and settlement of Europeans over the last 500 years. Find it Here