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Seeds of a Story: I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis

Book Cover I am not a number

The Canadian Children's Book Centre Awards are presented tonight in Toronto, and we have one more "Seeds of a Story" tale to be shared with you. This one comes from Jenny Kay Dupuis, author of I am Not a Number, which is nominated for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award.

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I Am Not a Number was inspired by my granny’s experience being taken from Nipissing First Nation reserve at a young age to live at residential school. It was written as a tribute to my granny and over 150,000 Indigenous children who were removed and isolated from the influence of their families, communities, traditions, and cultures.

The children’s picture book was written in response to the question, “What are the consequences of silence?” When I was growing up, I rarely heard people talk about the history of Indigenous peoples at school. As an educator by profession, I thought deeply about what would happen if we continue to not to speak up and educate the next generation about the truth. So, I wanted to share a real-life story through the lens of my family’s community history that would help others to understand the effects of assimilationist policies on identity.

The intent of the book was to help break the silence. I also wanted to inspire all people to use Indigenous children’s literature as a means to begin to have frank, honest discussions about the injustices that Indigenous communities experience(d) and what is needed for social change.

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I also wanted to inspire all people to use Indigenous children’s literature as a means to begin to have frank, honest discussions about the injustices that Indigenous communities experience(d) and what is needed for social change.

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Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis was born in Northern Ontario and is a proud member of Nipissing First Nation. She is an educator, author, artist, and keynote speaker with over 15 years’ success advancing innovative programs, strategies and research initiatives across Canada focusing on topics pertaining to Indigenous issues, leadership and diversity, inclusion, and the importance of relationship building today.

November 21, 2017

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I Am Not a Number

by Jenny Kay Dupuis & Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland
edition: Hardcover
also available: eBook
  • age: 7 to 11
  • Grade: 3 to 6
tagged: native canadian, post-confederation (1867-), prejudice & racism, native american

When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the numb …

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