I can’t remember when I first started to get excited about First Nation culture, but it was in early adulthood that I spent a lot of time researching and reading about Canada’s first people.
I took a course at Humber College, and had a teacher who was as excited about First Nations culture and history as I was. My son became interested in First Nations culture at school last year; our particularly area of the York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has a significant connection to the Ojibwe people. He wanted to learn how to speak the language.
I found a fabulous teacher affiliated with the board, who came to my house for a hour each week, teaching my son how to speak Ojibwe, and sharing her culture. He got to drink cedar tea, smell the burning of sweet grass and create medicine wheels and dream catchers. He could sing songs and speak basic words (and count) in Ojibwe. He listened to an entire presentation at Bronte Creek Provincial Park just so he could speak to the elder in Ojibwe. I think the man was surprised this little boy was speaking to him in his own language. It was pretty fantastic.
I also read a lot of First Nations books, so when Second Story Press told me about a new campaign by Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, to celebrate and promote First Nations literature, I was pretty excited.
Bennett, who launched the campaign at Mables Fables in Toronto on National Child Day Sunday, Nov. 20, is asking people to offer their suggestions for Indigenous books or authors using the hashtags #GiftingReconciliation and #IndigenousReads.
“Reconciliation is a journey for all Canadians,” Bennett said in a press release. “It can begin through gestures large or small, including reading an Indigenous book or author and learning about Indigenous issues, culture and history…I invite all Canadians to share their own recommendations on using hashtags #GiftingReconciliation and #IndigenousReads. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season. I know that as we move forward into Canada’s next 150 years, we can build a better, stronger Canada by working hard to learn what we were never taught in school.”
You can follow Bennett on twitter @Min_INAC and visit http://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1479147600305/1479147622420 to sees some of her selections.
And here are my suggestions:
Hawk by Jennifer Dance, published by Dundurn Press
A wonderful young adult book about Adam, who reclaims the name Hawk, given to him by his grandfather, who is diagnosed with leukemia. Hawk “begins to fight, for his life and for the land of his ancestors and the creatures that inhabit it. With a little help from his grandfather and his friends, he might just succeed.”
the hill by Karen Bass, published bed Pajama Press
Another fabulous young adult book, the hill was creepy – and kept me reading to the end.
Jared’s plane has crashed in the Alberta wilderness, and Kyle is first on the scene. When Jared insists on hiking up the highest hill in search of cell phone reception, Kyle hesitates; his Cree grandmother has always forbidden him to go near it. There’s no stopping Jared, though, so Kyle reluctantly follows. After a night spent on the hilltop – with no cell service- the teens discover something odd: the plane has disappeared. Nothing in the forest surrounding them seems right. In fact, things seem very wrong. And worst of all, something is hunting them.
Moonshot Vol. 1
This book made Bennett’s list as well. I reviewed it for Book Time.
Moonshot is a beautiful graphic novel written or illustrated by Indigenous writers and artists in Canada and the U.S
Gray Wolf’s Search by Bruce Swanson, published by Second Story Press
This picture book, published in 2007, is part of the Second Story Press’ First Nations Series: Coming of the Age in the Wolf Clan.
Gray Wolf lives on the Pacific Northwest coast with the other members of the Wolf Clan. His uncle, the clan shaman, tells Gray Wolf that his future success depends on completing an important task… Gray Wolfe must find a very important person and get to know him well. In his search for this person, Gray Wolf enlists the help of his brothers and sisters in the woods and waters – Eagle, Bear, Whale, Beaver, Owl, and Wolf. Each of them gives Gray Wolf an important clue to the identity of the person he seeks. When he returns to his clan, an older and wiser Gray Wolf takes the talking stick from his uncle and shares his new wisdom.
Do you have an #IndigenousReads suggestions?
Note: Book publishers and distributors send me books, but the opinions are my own.