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The Chat with Joshua Whitehead

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Joshua Whitehead’s first novel packs a gorgeous punch. Jonny Appleseed introduces us to a young Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer named Jonny, who moves from the rez to the big city but is called back home to return to a family funeral. In the meantime, he recalls stories of love, heartbreak, and longing as he casts a wise and world-weary look back over his young life.

It’s a stirring and bold debut, one which Alicia Elliott, writing in the Globe and Mail, says “creates a dream-like reading experience—and with a narrator as wise, funny and loveable as Jonny, it’s the sort of dream you don’t want to wake up from.”

Joshua Whitehead is an Oji-Cree/nehiyaw, Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks, 2017) and the winner of the Governor General's History Award for the Indigenous Arts and Stories Challenge in 2016. Currently he is working on a PhD in Indigenous Literatures and Cultures in the University of Calgary's English department (Treaty 7). Jonny Appleseed is his first no …

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Larry Krotz: Diagnosing the Legacy

Diagnosing the Legacy, by Larry Krotz, is not just about the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Indigenous youth but also about colonialism, history, the future of healthcare, and how personal narratives are part of a bigger picture. In this list, Krotz recommends further reading on these topics.

Diagnosing the Legacy is also currently up for giveaway in our Members' Lounge—enter for a chance to win

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Diagnosing the Legacy began as a medical history documenting the work of pediatric endocrinologists in Manitoba responding over a period of 30 years to a mystifying new condition in Indigenous children originally from remote northern First Nations.  

However, by the time research and writing was finished, the book had turned into something much more. It turned out to be impossible to tell the historic or medical story without encountering and taking into account explosive side issues, including how the diabetes crisis necessitated (and continues to necessitate) exploration of new ways to deliver health care; the importance of providing documentation of family and community struggles; and an exploration of how poverty and colonialism affect health.

These all encompass a field where much more study will ensue—and will be built on the work of many other scholars an …

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The Chat with Carleigh Baker

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Next up on The Chat, we speak to Carleigh Baker, author of the sensational short story collection Bad Endings, a finalist for the 2017 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize.

Of the collection, the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize jury said, “In Bad Endings, Carleigh Baker has created a skillfully woven tapestry of stories, centred on strong, contemporary female characters battling for agency over their own lives .… These stories are not about happy endings—they are about powerful endings, and we found them nothing short of electrifying.”

Carleigh Baker is a Cree-Métis/Icelandic writer. She was born and raised on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Stó:lō people. Her first collection of stories, Bad Endings, won the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2017 and is a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She won the Lush Triumphant award for short fiction in 2012, and her work has also appeared in Best Canadian Essays, and The Journey Prize Anthology. She writes book reviews for The Globe and Mail, The Literary Revi …

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The Chat with Tanya Talaga

TanyaTalagac.Steve Russell:Toronto Star

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Today we are in conversation with Tanya Talaga. Her hard-hitting and important Seven Fallen Feathers tells the story of seven Indigenous teenagers who have gone missing in Thunder Bay over the past several years. Throughout the narrative, she unpacks the legacy of the residential school system and explores how ongoing colonialism and bureaucratic indifference impact Indigenous youth in Northern Ontario. The book was a finalist for this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust of Canada Prize for Nonfiction.

According to The Walrus, "Seven Fallen Feathers is a must-read for all Canadians. It shows us where we came from, where we’re at, and what we need to do to make the country a better place for us all."

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Tanya Talaga has been a journalist at the Toronto Star for twenty years, covering everything from general city news to education, natio …

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The Chat with Governor General's Award Winners David Alexander Robertson & Julie Flett

In the final installment in in our Governor General Award special edition of The Chat, we speak to David Alexander Robertson and Julie Flett. Their book, When We Were Alone, won the 2017 Governor General's Award for Young People’s Literature (Illustration).

David Alexander Robertson

From the Peer Assessment Committee: “When We Were Alone is a poignant story of a dark and unforgettable part of Canadian history. David A. Robertson gently links the residential school experiences to a new generation with an enduring example of healing, love and understanding. Julie Flett’s simple but profound illustrations expertly complement the text and elevate this important story.”

David A. Robertson is an award-winning writer. His books include When We Were Alone (TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award nominee, Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature winner), Will I See? (winner of the Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award Graphic Novel Category), and the YA novel Strangers. David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues. David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.
 

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The Chat with Governor General's Award for Drama Winner Hiro Kanagawa

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Next up on our special Governor General’s Award edition of The Chat, we speak with Hiro Kanagawa, winner of this year’s award for English-language Drama.

"Indian Arm is a timely and evocative manifestation of the characters’ struggle with their relationship to the land,” said the peer assessment committee of the work. “Hiro Kanagawa masterfully navigates the tension between Indigenous and settler identities as they work to figure out how we can live together. Mythic. Heart-breaking. Poetic."

Hiro Kanagawa is best known as an actor, but he was also a story editor on several critically-acclaimed Canadian television series: Da Vinci's Inquest, Da Vinci's City Hall, Intelligence, and Blackstone. His plays Tiger of Malaya and The Patron Saint of Stanley Park have been performed across Canada. His distinctions include an Asians on Film award and Jessie Richardson Awards for both acting and writing. Indian Arm previously received the 2015 Jessie Award for Outstanding Original Script. Hiro lives in Port Moody, BC, with his wife and two children and is a youth football coach.

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The Chat: A Griffin Poetry Prize Special With Canadian Finalist Jordan Abel

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The next installment of our 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize special edition of The Chat features our conversation with Jordan Abel, author of the collection Injun.

Of the collection, the jury writes: “Jordan Abel’s collection Injun evacuates the subtexts of possession, territory, and erasure. Lyric, yes: ‘that   part   of sparkling / kn   ife love that // hates   the trouble of rope / and the   letters / of tow   ns.’ Testimony of another kind, too: ‘all misdeeds at the milk   house / all heap   shoots by the sagebrush // all the grub   is somewhere / down in the hungry bellies […]’. The fog of tedious over-dramatization clears and the open skies of discourse can be discerned. What does it mean to arrange hate to look like verse? What becomes of the ugly and meaningless? Words are restored to their constituent elements as countermovements in Abel’s hands, just as they are divested of their capacity for productive violence. The golden unity of language and its silvered overcoding erode, bringing to bear the ‘heard snatches of comment / goin …

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Giller Prize Special: The Chat With Eden Robinson

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2017 Giller Prize finalist Eden Robinson is the author of the much-heralded new novel Son of a Trickster, the first in her Trickster trilogy.

Writing in The National Post, Robert Wiersema calls Son of a Trickster “a unique, genuinely surprising novel from one of Canada’s finest writers, a blend of hardscrabble coming-of-age story with mythic fiction at its most powerfully subversive.”
 
Eden Robinson is a novelist and short fiction writer from the Haisla First Nation. Her novel Monkey Beach, which combines contemporary realism with Haisla mysticism, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and a Governor General’s Literary Award, and received the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize. She gave the 2010 Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture, which was published as the memoir The Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling. She lives in Kitamaat, BC.

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THE CHAT WITH EDEN ROBINSON

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Indigenous Readers Recommend

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In late December of 2015, Canada's Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, proposed an Aboriginal book club month, creating an opportunity to promote reading indigenous authors. Three such authors (Tracey Lindberg, Lee Maracle, and Drew Hayden Taylor) met the following week to debate the merits of that idea on CBC's The Current, and to discuss the state of indigenous literature in Canada—their conversation was fascinating and you can listen to it here.

In this post, we would like to further the spirit of their discussion with Indigenous writers, artists and scholars recommending some of their essential reads. 

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Bearskin Diary, by Carol Daniels

Recommended by Richard Van Camp

I believe Carol Daniels is one of the most important voices in Canadian and World Indigenous Literature today. Her novel Bearskin Diary follows Sandy as she reclaims her culture and her spirit after surviving the Sixties Scoop. I wasn't expecting this novel to be so fearless, but it is. I could not put this book down.

I love Kenneth T. Williams' quote: "Bearsk …

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor

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Phil Fontaine is a Survivor, TRC Honorary Witness, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He writes the Foreword to new book A Knock at the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, reproduced below.

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor.

Survivor is a word that years ago I used in hushed tones to describe my experience at Indian Residential School. But that was then. I have now come to say the word louder and more imbued with pride with every passing year of my life. This year, “survivor” has reached a crescendo.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and its findings, represents a historic moment for all survivors; for all Indigenous people everywhere. It is, I think, a historic moment for Canada, the significance of which rests in not only what has been, but also what is to come.

I cannot speak for every survivor—each of us has our own story—but we do have common characteristics. As survivors, we number in the thousands. But if you count our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us, we number in the hundreds of thousands, possibly many more. All of us, the living and the dead, endured the effects of a policy that sought transformation—transform …

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Why Non-Indigenous Canadians Need to Share the Burden and Historical Legacies of the Residential School System

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In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Kaleigh Bradley is a historical consultant and PhD candidate in the Department of History at York University. Her current research examines the environmental history of Indigenous lands and the effects of mining and development on Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. She’s also a co-editor of the popular history website ActiveHistory.ca.

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In the nineteenth century, near present-day Sault Ste. Marie, Chief Shingwaukonse dreamt of a teaching wigwam where Anishinaabe children could acquire vocational and academic skills. Chief Shingwaukonse wanted children to have these tools so that they could preserve Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language), and easily adapt to a modernizing economy and society. Indigenous peoples, with the help of church missionaries and government officials, sought the creation of the schools for their children, but the schools later became an instrument for cultural genocide.

The Indian Residential School (IRS) system began in the early nineteenth century with the missionary …

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Hayden King: Lines on the Shore

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Talking History focuses on a wide range of topics in Canadian history, and it consists of articles by Canada's foremost historians and history experts. Our contributors use the power of narrative to bring the past to life and to show how it is not just relevant, but essential to our understanding of Canada and the world today. "Talking History" is a series made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Hayden King is an Anishinaabe writer and educator from Beausoleil First Nation at Gchi Nme Mnissing. He is the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Governance at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario.

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Lines on the Shore: Stories from the Border of an Island Indian Reserve

On the north shore of Gchi Nme Mnissing, "The Great Sturgeon Island" (and otherwise known as Beausoleil First Nation or Christian Island), is the Big Sand Bay. It’s an arcing black and tan beach flanked by cedar trees and Muskoka chairs. From below the sand is consumed by the clear and bright breaking waves of Georgian Bay. It’s a feast overseen by cottagers, visitors, who through a legal and economic deal with the First Nation and federal government occupy this and many of the Island’s sand beaches during the summer months. 

Before the ancestors a …

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