Sounding Thunder: Stories of Frances Pegahmagabow Cover | Image Source: University of Manitoba Press
This list offers a variety of suggestions to readers—from biographies to science fiction to poetry, there is something for all types of book lovers. These fifteen books are either recently published or soon-to-be released titles by incredible Indigenous authors.
1. Thunder Boy Jr. Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) Little Brown Books for Young Readers 2016
Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad, but he wants a name that’s all his own. Just because people call his dad Big Thunder doesn’t mean he wants to be Little Thunder. But just when Thunder Boy Jr. thinks all hope is lost, he and his dad pick the perfect name…a name that is sure to light up the sky.
2. The Stone Collection Kateri Akiwenzie-Damn (Anishinaabe) Highwater Press Oct 2015
“In the Anishnaabe language and worldview, stones are alive, infused with life force or spirit. Although many of the stories are about loss, under that surface they are alive, celebrating the beauty and preciousness of life.” —Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm
3. Bearskin Diary Carol Daniels (Cree) Harbour Publishing 2015
Taken from the arms of her mother as soon as she was born, Sandy was only one of over twenty thousand Aboriginal children scooped up by the federal government between the 1960s and 1980s. From this tragic period in her personal life and in Canadian history, Sandy does not emerge unscathed, but she emerges strong—finding her way by embracing the First Nations culture that the Sixties Scoop had tried to deny
4. Indigenous Men and Masculinities: Legacies, Identities, Regeneration Robert Alexander Innes, Editor (Plains Cree) Kim Anderson, Editor (Cree & Metis) University of Manitoba Press
What do we know of masculinities in non-patriarchal societies? Indigenous peoples of the Americas and beyond come from traditions of gender equity, complementarity, and the sacred feminine, concepts that were unimaginable and shocking to Euro-western peoples at contact. Building on Indigenous knowledge systems, Indigenous feminism, and queer theory, the sixteen essays by scholars and activists from Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand open pathways for the nascent field of Indigenous masculinities.
5. Candies: A Humour Composite Basil H. Johnston (Ojibway) Kegedonce Press Dec 2015
Candies: A Humour Composite by the renowned and celebrated Ojibwe linguist, storyteller, educator and humorist Basil Johnston is the final publication of the remarkable Elder. Basil Johnston (1929-2015) from Chippewas of Nawash First Nation in Ontario wrote Ojibwe language dictionaries and courses of study, Ojibwe spiritual and cultural teaching resources, a residential school memoir, and traditional Ojibwe narratives and legends. Candies is a fine collection of short stories filled with the wry humour from a great storyteller.
6. The Reason You Walk Wab Kinew (Anishinaabe) Viking 2015
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. 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. Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of Aboriginal peoples.
7. Forever Loved: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada D. Memee Lavell-Harvard (Anishnaabe), Editor & Jennifer Brant (Mohawk), Editor Demeter Press 2016
The hidden crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada is both a national tragedy and a national shame. In this ground-breaking new volume, a variety of voices from the academic realms to the grassroots and front-lines. This book was created to honour our missing sisters, their families, their lives and their stories, with the hope that it will offer lessons to non-Indigenous allies and supporters so that we can all work together towards a nation that supports and promotes the safety and well-being of all First Nation, Métis and Inuit women and girls.
8. Talking to the Diaspora Lee Maracle (Sto:Loh) Arbeiter Ring 2015
In a career that has spanned more than a quarter century, Lee Maracle has earned the reputation as one of Canada’s most ardent and celebrated writers. Talking to the Diaspora, Maracle’s second book of poetry is at once personal and profound. From the revolutionary “Where Is that Odd Dandelion-Looking-Flower” to the tender poem “Salmon Dance,” from the biting “Language” to the elegiac “Boy in the Archives,” these poems embody the fearless passion and spirited wit for which Lee Maracle is beloved and revered.
9. Sounding Thunder: The Stories of Francis Pegahmagabow Brian D. McInnes (Ojibwe) University of Manitoba Press Sep 2016, pre-order available
Francis Pegahmagabow (1889-1952), an Ojibwe of the Caribou clan, was born in Shawanaga First Nation, Ontario. Enlisting at the onset of the First World War, he served overseas as a scout and sniper and became Canada’s most decorated Indigenous soldier. After the war, Pegahmagabow settled in Wasauksing First Nation, Ontario, where he married and raised six children. He served his community as both Chief and Councillor and was a founding member of the Brotherhood of Canadian Indians, the first national Indigenous political organization. In 1949 and 1950, he was elected the Supreme Chief of the National Indian Government.
10. Legacy Waubgeshig Rice (Anishinaabe) Theytus Books Aug 2014
Legacy is the first novel by Waubgeshig Rice, whose collection of stories; Midnight Sweatlodge was the Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2012 for Adult Multicultural Fiction. Set in the 1990s, Legacy deals with violence against a young Indigenous woman and its lingering after-shocks on an Anishnawbe family in Ontario. Its themes of injustice, privilege and those denied it, reconciliation and revenge, are as timely as today’s headlines.
11. You Will Wear a White Shirt: From the Northern Bush to the Halls of Power Senator Nick Sibbeston (Metis) Douglas and McIntyre 2015
Growing up in a remote Northern community, Nick Sibbeston had little reason to believe he would one day fulfill his mother’s ambition of holding a career where he would “wear a white shirt.” Torn away from his family and placed in residential school at the age of five, Sibbeston endured loneliness, callous treatment and sexual assault by an older boy, but discovered a love of learning that would compel him to complete a law degree and pursue a career in politics.
12. Amik Loves School: A Story of Wisdom Katherena Vermette (Metis) Highwater Press 2015
Amik is a young urban Ojibwe boy who actually enjoys learning new things at school. One day Amik tells his Moshoom how much he enjoys learning. But Moshoom has a different memory about school when he was a child. Grandfather attended residential school. There is sadness in Moshoom’s face. Amik has the answer when he invites his Moshoom to the classroom the next day. In the morning class the teacher and students begin the school day with a smudge and a prayer before beginning their Ojibwe language study.
13. Indigenous Writes Chelsea Vowel (âpihtawikosisân) HighWater Press Sep 2016, pre-order available
In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel initiates myriad conversations about the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. An advocate for Indigenous worldviews, the author discusses the fundamental issues—the terminology of relationships; culture and identity; myth-busting; state violence; and land, learning, law and treaties—along with wider social beliefs about these issues.
14. Medicine Walk Richard Wagamese (Ojibway) McClelland And Stewart May 2015
Franklin Starlight is called to visit his father, Eldon. He’s sixteen years old and has had the most fleeting of relationships with the man. The rare moments they’ve shared haunt and trouble Frank, but he answers the call, a son’s duty to a father. What ensues is a journey through the rugged and beautiful backcountry, and a journey into the past, as the two men push forward to Eldon’s end.
15. The Black Ship Gerry Williams (Secwepemc) Theytus Books Nov 2015
Enid Blue Starbreaks is a Repletian who survives a mass killing of her people on the Pegasus. She is later adopted and raised by an Amphorian family. With the recent attention given to the 60s scoop of Indigenous people in Canada, the parallels in the novel are quite striking. Despite the attempt to erase Enid’s memory, and despite being integrated into the Amphorian society, the older, lingering memories of who she was shadow her, but also at the same time light a path for her across the stars.
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“Where Mary Went” by Lynne Sherry McLean is a must read.
The Outside Circle – a graphic novel – Patti LaBoucane-Benson
They called me Number One – Bev Sellars
“Up Ghost River” is a great read