In June, we honour the original inhabitants of this continent by acknowledging their rich heritage and recognizing the strength of present-day First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Celebrate the many rising voices in a multitude of stories which reflect the cultural dislocation which connects to the author’s nation(s) or how their community prevails.
Turtle Island: The Story of North America’s First People by Eldon Yellowhorn
Professor Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn is a member of the Piikani Nation who is a native speaker of the Blackfoot language and is working to preserve its future. Beginning 100 000 years ago, this history book presents a fulsome view of the original inhabitants of this continent through sacred origin stories and contemporary scientific information. Throughout the text, concise sidebars discuss Indigenous sports, inventions, science, art, technology, literature, and significant figures past and present.
Treaty Words: for as Long as the Rivers Flow by Aimee Craft & Luke Swinson
Attorney and Associate Professor Aimee Craft is a member of the Anishinaabe-Metis nations with expertise in Anishinaabe and Canadian Aboriginal Law. Instead of a typical focus on conflict, this unique story presents layered teachings that encompass both people and land to help illustrate the significance of treaties as “agreements to make relationships.”
Stolen Words by Melanie Florence
Melanie Florence is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. Her picture book illustrates the intergenerational impact of Canada's residential school system that separated Indigenous children from their families and the beautiful, healing relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. It won an award for its portrayal of strength.
Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids (Multiple Contributors)
Members of various nations, including Cree, Ojibwe, Choctaw, Cherokee, Navajo, Abenaki, and Haudenosaunee follow an intertribal powwow model to share contemporary short stories, poems and art that reflect young people’s experiences of timeless interconnected themes.
SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
Jan Bourdeau Waboose is a Nishnawbe Ojibway writer from Northern Ontario. Her award-winning First Nations Communities Read picture book shares the adventure of two Ojibway sisters who traverse the frozen north country to see the SkySpirits' midnight dance (a.k.a. The Northern Lights.)
Call Me Indian by Fred Sasakamoose
Trailblazer. Residential School Survivor. Community leader. These are all aspects of his identity, but not the whole story. This is the memoir of Fred Sasakamoose, the First Treaty Indigenous player in the NHL.
Missing Sarah: A Memoir of Loss by Maggie DeVries
Author Maggie De Vries writes about the indifference shown towards her missing sister Sarah or as Maggie puts it, “After she disappeared, I changed; I learned so much and gradually realized that my thinking [as a settler] had been part of the problem, that we as a society tend to see sets of stereotypes [of Indigenous persons] instead of human beings…”
Peace and Good Order: The Case for Indigenous Justice in Canada by Harold R. Johnson
Harold R. Johnson, a member of the Montreal Lake Cree Nation, a Harvard Law School graduate, and former Crown prosecutor writes this essential volume as 'an act of taking responsibility' for the Canadian state's failure to deliver justice to Indigenous people. He examines the root causes and terrible consequences of the legal mistreatment of Indigenous citizens and notes what needs to happen to achieve peace and good order.
Journalist Jessica McDiarmid investigates the stories of the Indigenous women and girls missing and murdered along a 725-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 in British Columbia in this true crime book. She shares the stories of their families, many of whom have been searching for their loved ones, for answers, for justice and for change for decades. Our failure to provide justice for MMIWG contrasts sharply with their communities' determination to find it.
Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson
Eden Robinson is an internationally acclaimed Haisla and Heiltsuk novelist and short story writer. She infuses her story with magical realism that combines darkness and humour. Set in the shadow of B.C.'s mountains, Robinson blends Haisla lore, nature spirits and sorrow in a layered story of loss and redemption through the mystery of a missing brother as seen through the eyes of his sister. Check out the latest instalment in her Son of a Trickster series!
The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson
Dr. Patti Laboucane-Benson is a Métis woman from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. This graphic novel is an extension of her work in Human Ecology focusing on Aboriginal Family Resilience. It takes readers into the journey of a young Cree First Nation man from a life of violence and gangs to healing. The story arc shows the tragic toll of Canada's colonial legacy and the importance of historic trauma healing programs for Aboriginal offenders.
Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline
Cherie Dimaline is an award-winning fiction writer from the Georgian Bay Métis Community. Her book is many things: a story of heart-break, mystery, Métis folklore and a strange encounter in a Georgian Bay Walmart. It is hailed as a “propulsive, stunning and sensuous” novel.
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Waubgeshig Rice is an author and journalist originally from Wasauksing First Nation. His atmospheric novel employs the usual apocalyptic indicators like power outage and loss of contact to highlight the strength of tradition. Further, the cohesion of community under threat from Southern (read: colonial) usurpers showcases the positive influences of family and friends. Look for the sequel expected to be published in 2022.
The Break by Katherena Vermette
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Treaty One territory, the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba. This multi-award winning novel about four generations of Métis women who each carry scars begins following a tragic assault when the women gather to consider powerful why questions that fold in culture and identity and ultimately the need for social justice.
Learn more about National Indigenous History month here: About National Indigenous History Month
See also First Nations Communities Read.