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GGBooks Special: The Chat with David Robertson & Julie Flett

“With its muted palette and gentle text, On the Trapline is quietly profound. Robertson’s reflective storytelling coupled with Flett’s masterpiece illustrations make this picture book a must-read about the connection to language, family, the land and tradition.” – 2021 Peer Assessment Committee

Headshot David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson is the author of numerous books for young readers, including When We Were Alone (illustrated by Julie Flett), which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award. Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction.  He is also the author of The Barren Grounds and The Great Bear, two books in a middle-grade fantasy series called The Misewa Saga. The Barren Grounds was a Kirkus and Quill & Quire best middle-grade book of 2020, as well as a USBBY and Texas Lone Star selection, and was shortlisted for the Silver Birch Fiction Award and the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award. A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

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GGBooks Special: The Chat with Norma Dunning

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"Tainna: The Unseen Ones is an explosive force of sadness, anger, humour and beauty, full of moments that surprise and pummel and still provide hope. This collection is both vivid and raw but infused with a sparkling poetry and the wisdom of the old ways. Like the spirits Norma Dunning describes in these stunning and original stories, this is a book that will never leave you.” – 2021 Peer Assessment Committee

Dr. Norma Dunning is a writer as well as a scholar, researcher, professor, and grandmother. Her first book, the short story collection, Annie Muktuk and Other Stories (University of Alberta Press, 2017), received the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, the Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Story and the Bronze for short stories in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards. She is also the author of the bestselling poetry collection, Eskimo Pie (Bookland Press, 2020). She lives in Edmonton, AB.

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Tainna: The Unseen Ones is a collection of stories featuring a range of Inuk characters who “meet the prejudice, misogyny and inequity of the Canadian South with humour and tenacity.” Tell us more about how the collection and how it came together.

This collection was written in opposition to Annie Muktuk and Other Stories, in that, it was intentional to have modern-da …

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Fighting For a Hand to Hold: An Anti-Colonial Reading List

The QWF Literary Awards celebrate the best books and plays by English-language writers, playwrights, and translators in Quebec, as well as those translating English works from Quebec into French. Each award comes with a purse of $3,000.

For more information about the Awards and to see Giller Prize-winning author Sean Michaels announce all the finalists, check out the Gala page on our website.

Fighting for a Hand to Hold won The Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction and The Concordia University First Book Prize at the 2021 Awards Gala.

Learn more about the book at https://fightingforahandtohold.ca

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Fighting for a Hand to Hold: Confronting Medical Colonialism against Indigenous Children in Canada (foreword by Cindy Blackstock, afterword by Katsi’tsakwas Ellen Gabriel) uses the #aHand2Hold campaign as a case study of contemporary medical colonialism in Quebec, and demonstrates that inequalities in health care follow fault lines of societal injustices.

The campaign confronted Évacuations aéromédicales du Québec (ÉVAQ), the provincially run medical evacuation airlift service, and its long-standing practice of separating Indigenous children from their families in northern Quebec. The book also contextualizes this now-defunct practice by exposing the Canadian medic …

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16 Indigenous Reads: A List from Kobo

This is a list of eBooks and audiobooks to help readers celebrate the cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples through a mix of fiction and nonfiction that shines light on painful moments in history (much of which is hardly past) while highlighting the talents of some of the best writers working today.

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Call Me Indian, by Fred Sasakamoose

Fred Saskamoose emerged from the brutal residential school system to become the first Indigenous person with Treaty status in the NHL—before First Nations people obtained the right to vote in Canada. But there’s more to the story of “Fast Freddy” than the dozen games he played for the Chicago Black Hawks, including a life serving his community and fighting to reclaim Indigenous pride.

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A History of My Brief Body, by Billy-Ray Belcourt

This poetic and challenging memoir leaves impressions on readers’ minds that may take a lifetime to interpret. We spoke with the author about his work on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.

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The Chat with Jordan Abel

This week we’re in conversation with Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jordan Abel, whose powerful poetry project NISHGA was released over the summer with McClelland & Stewart.

Author Billy-Ray Belcourt says “Abel sculpts a narrative of dislocation and self-examination that pressurizes received notions of “Canada” and “history” and “art” and “literature” and “belonging” and “forgiveness”… By its Afterword, NISHGA adds up to a work of personal and national reckoning that is by turns heartbreaking and scathing.”

Jordan Abel is a Nisga'a writer from Vancouver. He is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize), Un/inhabited, and Injun (winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize). Abel's work has recently been anthologized in The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward), The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry (Anstruther), Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope), Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within the Anthropocene (Wesleyan), and The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (ARP). Abel's work has been published in numerous journals and magazines—including Canadian Literature, The Capilano Review, and Poetry Is Dead—and his visual poetry has been included in exhibitions at the Polygon Gallery, UNIT/PITT Gallery, and the Oslo Pilot Project Room in Oslo, Norway. Abel recently completed a PhD at Simon Fraser University, and is currently working as an A …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Kim Senklip Harvey

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We continue our Governor General’s Literature Awards coverage in conversation with Kim Senklip Harvey, whose work Kamloopa: An Indigenous Matriarch Story (Talonbooks) won in the category of drama.

According to the Peer Assessment Committee, “The brilliance, the irreverence, the fire of Kamloopa sweeps us into the world of three Indigenous women on a mind-bending quest. The audience is seduced by the love, humour and depth of these matriarchs as they embrace and celebrate who they are in the world and with each other. A play that will encourage you to re-evaluate your relationship with Canada.”

Kim Senklip Harvey is a proud Syilx and Tsilhqot’in and an Indigenous theorist, a cultural evolutionist and an award-winning writer and director whose work focuses on igniting Indigenous power by creating comedic and joy-centred narratives that nourish her people’s spirits. She is currently working on the development of two television series: her Salish love story, On the Plateau, and the adaptation of her play, Kamloopa. She is also completing her first prose and poetry book, Interiors: A Collection of NDN Dirtbag Love Stories, and is in pre-production to film a musical feature of her next artistic ceremony, Break Horizons: A Rocking Indigenous Justice Ceremony. S …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

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Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) with an interview with Michelle Good, whose Five Little Indians (Harper Perennial/HarperCollins) won the fiction prize.

Enter for a chance to win Five Little Indians as well and don't miss the excerpt at the end of this post!

“Intimate and ambitious, Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians is a heart-breaking account of lives shaped and destroyed by the residential school system. Here is powerful testimony, expertly crafted and wisely observed, tragic yet full of redemptive moments. An unflinching, compassionate and moving novel about the struggle to live and love in the wake of deep trauma.”—2020 Governor General’s Award Peer Assessment Committee

Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years, she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. Good earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practising law and managing her own law firm. Her poems, short stories, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Cana …

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The Chat with Richard Van Camp

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Author Richard Van Camp is a celebrated and beloved storyteller who has worked across many genres. His latest offering, Gather: On the Joy of Storytelling (University of Regina Press), shares what he knows about the power of storytelling—and offers some of his own favourite stories from Elders, friends, and family.

Richard Van Camp is a proud Tlicho Dene from Fort Smith, Northwest Territories and is the author of over twenty books, including the Eisner-nominated graphic novel, A Blanket of Butterflies. His bestselling novel The Lesser Blessed has been made into a movie that has also received critical acclaim. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta. You can visit Richard on Facebook, Twitter and at www.richardvancamp.com.

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Trevor Corkum: Gather explores the power of storytelling and in particular, the power and gifts of storytellers in creating and maintaining community. Why was this book important to write?

Richard Van Camp: It has been one of the sweetest joys throughout my life to record, transcribe, upload and share stories from my Elders and Knowledge Ke …

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A Record of Literary History: Best Canadian Poetry 2020

Best Canadian Poetry 2020 is out now, featuring work by poets including Amber Dawn, Billy-Ray Belcourt, Tim Bowling, Ivan Coyote, Louise Bernice Halfe–Sky Dancer, Tanis MacDonald, Nyla Matuk, Jason Purcell, Armand Garnet Ruffo, Robyn Sarah, Kevin Spenst, John Elizabeth Stintzi, and more.

Guest Editor Marilyn Dumont writes about her vision for the anthology in her introduction to the book, which we're pleased to excerpt here today. 

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Before taking on the task of guest-editing Best Canadian Poetry 2020, I had no idea how poems were identified for such an anthology, despite habitually acquiring collections on an annual basis myself. I avidly purchased anthologies throughout the years, and whether I agreed with the anthol­ogist on their yearly selection of poems or not, I always found anthologies instructive because of their capacity to curate a collection of poems that have spoken to a particular poet’s aes­thetic at a specific time in the literary history of a country. If I consider the number of volumes in my bookshelf with the word “best” in the title, there seems to be no end of the desire to isolate what warrants merit among the genres.

Anthologists are not search engines generating a reposi­tory of merit in collections, but instead are human bein …

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Launchpad: NOOPIMING, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

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Last spring—as launches, festivals and other events were cancelled across the country—49th Shelf helped Canadian authors launch more than 50 new books with LAUNCHPAD. And now we're back this fall, but with a twist.

LAUNCHPAD 2.0 features new releases selected by great Canadian writers who've chosen books that absolutely deserve to find their way into the hands of readers.

Today we're launching Noopiming: The Cure For White Ladies, by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, which is being championed by Megan Gail Coles, who writes: 

"Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies is likely the most admirably audacious novel of the year. With each publication, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson re-establishes herself as a revolutionary writer willing to take innovative risks in order to communicate bold intentions that challenge damaging colonial narratives.

"In her most recent book, she centres relationality so thoroughly as to destabilize even the reader's limiting preconception of how words must be laid out upon the page. This is bold storytelling drawing upon a rich history to present a possible future. Simpson is generously gifting readers, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with an opportunity to engage in the necessary difficult work of further decolonizing our minds.

"I have decided t …

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Launchpad: One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, by Anuradha Rao

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This spring we've made it our mission (even more than usual) to celebrate new releases in the wake of cancelled launch parties, book festivals, and reading series. With 49th Shelf Launchpad, we're holding virtual launch parties here on our platform complete with witty banter and great insight to give you a taste of the books on offer. You can request these books from your local library, get them as e-books or audio books, order them from your local indie bookseller if they're delivering, buy them direct from the publisher or from online retailers.

Today we're launching One Earth: People of Color Protecting Our Planet, which Elizabeth May calls "a book to be celebrated and shared!”

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The Elevator Pitch. Tell us about your book in a sentence.

One Earth is a nonfiction book with colour photos that tells the stories of 20 Black, Indigenous and people of colour who are environmental defenders.

Describe your ideal reader.

Loves nature and/or is looking for diverse role models. Perhaps doesn’t tend to see themselves reflected enough in popular media, and …

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Reconciliation Through Education: Reading Jesse Thistle's From the Ashes with Senior Grades

Twice a month, we invite an educator to share their perspective on essential books for your classroom. To apply to become a contributor, please send us an email!
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Jesse Thistle’s memoir, From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, took me on a heartbreaking journey of his life as a homeless Indigenous man. His resilience as he battled substance abuse and poverty (and eventually earned his GED in jail) was just part of this courageous story. Although there are many reasons to cheer Thistle on as he struggles to overcome intergenerational trauma, I was drawn in by the honesty of his writing.

This is not an easy story to read and I’d encourage grade 11 and 12 students to read it but still caution teenagers (16+) that there are many difficult aspects to Thistle’s life story that could be upsetting for them. However, the focus on the power of relationships and education shines through. In a CBC interview, the author said, “It was painful, but it was also very beautiful. These were really hard, painful, sharp memories. But I also saw there were people that were trying to help me, like the kind shop owner who gave me food or my friend at the shelter who watched out for my shoes. My brother Jerry always took care of me and took me in …

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