Every year in Canada, on September 30th, we observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – a day to honor the children (and their families) who suffered through the multi-generational trauma that was the residential school system in Canada for over one hundred years.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report states that “Too many Canadians know little or nothing about the deep historical roots of these conflicts. This lack of knowledge has serious consequences for First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples and for Canada”. We believe that reading is an incredible way to raise awareness and educate Canadians about the tragic history of the residential school system and its effects on Canada’s indigenous communities. In particular, we hold dearly to our hearts the belief that we must amplify the voices of, and focus on hearing directly from Indigenous authors.
Here are four books recommended by our staff by Indigenous authors:
- 21 Things you may not know about the Indian Act by Bob Joseph: this short non-fiction read recounts the history of the Indian Act (since 1876) and the many policies, including residential schools, that have systemically harmed many generations of indigenous peoples.
- Five Little Indians by Michelle Good: this novel is based on real experiences of the author’s mother and grandmother who were survivors of the residential school system. It followed the lives of five children who were tragically impacted by the system in a variety of ways. This award-winning book was also CBC’s #1 best-selling book in 2021.
- From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle: is a heart-throbbing memoir by Jesse Thistle – who was abandoned by his parents, fell into the foster-care system, struggled with drug addiction, dropped out of school, and yet overcame and thrived against all odds. His books is a testament of his resilience and the multi-generational trauma that his individual story carries.
- The Strangers by Katherena Vermette: is a highly-rate novel by the best-selling author of The Break. The Strangers is an intergenerational novel that highlights the stories of several women in the Stranger family. The novel covers a range of topics through the telling of these women’s stories, from addiction to inherited trauma to the foster care system and incarceration.
Reading is an incredibly accessible and easy way to learn and educate ourselves, even it is just one book to start with. Let's continue to amplify the voice of Indigenous authors in Canada. We encourage you all to read and act. We’re all have a part in the reconciliation process.