June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. The term Indigenous people comprises of The First Nations, The Inuit and The Metis. During this month we come together to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of the indigenous peoples. There is a large and growing group of exceptional Indigenous authors within Canada. Their works can cross many genres as well as formats, spanning from memoirs, to graphic novels, to science fiction. In recent years, these authors have been receiving more recognition, with many Indigenous authors being nominated for prestigious literary awards. Celebrate National Indigenous History Month and check out the following awesome reads by Indigenous authors:
Richard Wagamese was a Canadian author and descendant of the Ojibwe First Nations people. He wrote more than a dozen books as well as articles and essays inspired by the themes of identity, peace and belonging within the Indigenous peoples. In the beautifully written “Medicine Walk”, he tells the story of Franklin Starlight, a sixteen year old boy, who agrees to help his dying, alcoholic, absentee father, by accompanying him to his burial site in the traditional Ojibway manner. As they go on this journey, Franklin is able to learn more about his father’s past and thus learn to accept and potentially forgive.
Tanya Talaga is an investigative reporter for the Toronto Star focusing on Indigenous issues. She originally set out to investigate the low voter turnout among Indigenous people in the 2011 Federal election, however, she soon shifted focus to a greater issue. In this Canada Reads nominated non-fiction read, Tanya Talaga recounts the story of seven Indigenous high school teenagers that have died in Thunder Bay, Ontario from 2001 to 2011. These students were forced to leave their reservation and move into foreign and unwelcoming areas without their families because of the lack of sufficient schooling on reservations. Tanya deftly tackles the issues and struggles with human rights violation within the Indigenous communities.
“Birdie” is the debut novel of Tracey Lindberg, a professor of Indigenous Law and government at the University of Ottawa. With “Birdie”, Lindberg tells the story of Bernice Meetoos, a Crew woman who moves from her home in Northern Alberta to Gibsons, British Columbia, as she attempts to overcome her past.