Armstrong, Jeannette (Syilx). Slash. Theytus Books, 2007 (1985). Novel/young adult fiction.

Slash front cv

Publisher’s description: Slash is Jeannette Armstrong’s first novel. It poignantly traces the struggles, pain and alienation of a young Okanagan man who searches for truth and meaning in his life. Recognized as an important work of literature, Slash is used in high schools, colleges and universities.

Campbell, Maria (Métis). Half-breed. Goodread Biographies, 1983 (1973). Autobiography.

6. Halfbreed (Campbell)

Publisher’s description: Maria Campbell’s [auto]biography is a classic, vital account of a young Métis woman’s struggle to come to terms with the joys, sorrows, loves and tragedies of her northern Saskatchewan childhood. Maria was a strong and sensitive child who lived in a community robbed of its pride and dignity by the dominant culture. At 15 she tried in vain to escape by marrying a white man, only to find herself trapped in the slums of Vancouver—addicted to drugs, tempted by suicide, close to death. But the inspiration of her Cree great-grandmother, Cheechum, gives her confidence in herself and in her people, confidence she needs to survive and to thrive. Half-Breed offers an unparalleled understanding of the Métis people and of the racism and hatred they face. Maria Campbell’s story cannot be denied and it cannot be forgotten: it stands as a challenge to all Canadians who believe in human rights and human dignity.

Cariou, Warren (Métis). Lake of the Prairies: A Story of Belonging. Anchor Canada, 2003. Memoir.

5. Lake of the Prairies (Cariou)

Publisher’s description: Powerful, funny, moving and personal, Lake of the Prairies is a richly layered exploration of the ubiquitous childhood question: where do I come from? Warren Cariou’s story of origin begins in the boreal Saskatchewan landscape of rock, water and muskeg that is Meadow Lake—ensconced in the ethos of the north, where there is magic in a story and fiction is worth much more than fact. Grounded in the fertile soil of Meadow Lake are two historical traditions—Native and settler. Though the tragic story of how these traditions came to share the same home would remain buried from Warren until much later, history’s painful legacy was much in view. In the schoolyard and on the street corners Warren witnessed the discrimination, anger and fear directed at the town’s Cree and Métis populations—prejudices he absorbed as his own. As an adult, Warren Cariou has been forced to confront the politics of race in Meadow Lake. He learned that a rambunctious Native schoolmate could be involved in a torture and murder that would shock the world. And then Warren discovered family secrets kept hidden for generations, secrets that would alter forever Warren’s sense of identity and belonging in Meadow Lake.

Dimaline, Cherie (Métis). The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy. Theytus Books, 2013. Novel.

33. The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy (Dimaline)

Publisher’s description: A galaxy of odd planets spins around Ruby Bloom’s head, slick and regulated as a game of snooker. The big purple one is Anxiety. It grew in the slipstream of Guilt, a smooth, loud planet with two moons: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Agoraphobia. The black one is Envy. It’s crusted with ice and solid as tungsten. The pink spotted one, a loud sparkly affair, is Fantasy and it careens wildly about like a ball after the break. There is a shiny amber globe that catches passing light; a small marble named Longing that is the brightest of all the orbs. The universe didn’t start with a big bang of cosmic proportions; instead it grew out of trauma that occurred in the middle of an otherwise quiet childhood. It began the day Ruby Bloom, age seven and a half, killed her grandfather.

Maracle, Lee (Stó:lō). Ravensong: A Novel. Women’s Press, 2017 (1993). Novel.

4. Ravensong (Maracle)

Publisher’s description: Set along the Pacific Northwest Coast in the 1950s, Ravensong tells the story of a Native [Coast Salish] community devastated by an influenza epidemic. Stacey, a 17-year-old Native [Coast Salish] girl, struggles with the clash between white society’s values and her family’s traditional ways, knowing that her future lies somewhere in between. Celia, her sister, has visions from the past, while Raven warns of an impending catastrophe before there is any reconciliation between the two cultures. In this passionate story about a young woman’s quest for answers, author Lee Maracle speaks unflinchingly of the gulf between two cultures: a gulf that Raven says must be bridged. Ravensong is a moving drama that includes elements of prophecy, mythology, cultural critique, and humour. Featuring a preface by Lee Maracle and cover art by Métis artist Christi Belcourt, this revitalized edition is ideal for use in Literature and Gender and Women’s Studies programs.

Mosionier, Beatrice (Métis). In Search of April Raintree. 25th Anniversary Edition. Portage & Main Press, 2008 (1983). Novel.

27. In Search of April Raintree (Mosionier)

Publisher’s description: Two young sisters are taken from their home and family. Powerless to change their fortunes, they are separated, and each put into different foster homes. Yet over the years, the bond between them grows. As they each make their way in a society that is, at times, indifferent, hostile, and violent, one embraces her Métis identity, while the other tries to leave it behind. In the end, out of tragedy, comes an unexpected legacy of triumph and reclamation.

Paquette, Aaron (Cree). Lightfinder. Kegedonce, 2014. Fantasy/young adult fiction.

14. Lightfinder (Paquette)

Publisher’s description: Written & illustrated by Aaron Paquette, Lightfinder is a Young Adult fantasy novel about Aisling, a young Cree woman who sets out into the wilderness with her Kokum (grandmother), Aunty and two young men she barely knows. They have to find and rescue her runaway younger brother, Eric. Along the way she learns that the legends of her people might be real and that she has a growing power of her own. The story follows the paths of Aisling and Eric, siblings unwittingly thrust into a millennia old struggle for the future of life on earth…. Set in the Alberta landscape with references to real-world challenges faced by youth today, Lightfinder has proven to be a hit with young adults and adults alike.

Robinson, Eden (Haisla/Heiltsuk). Monkey Beach. Vintage Canada, 2001. Novel.

7. Monkey Beach (Robinson)

Publisher’s description: Monkey Beach combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak. In the first English-language novel to be published by a Haisla writer, Eden Robinson offers a rich celebration of life in the Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia. The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far…. We watch Lisa leave her teenage years behind as she waits for news of her younger brother. She reflects on the many rich episodes of their lives – so many of which take place around the water, reminding us of the news she fears, and revealing the menacing power of nature. But Lisa has a special recourse – a “gift” that enables her to see and hear spirits, and ask for their help.

Van Camp, Richard (Tlicho). The Lesser Blessed. Douglas & McIntyre, 2016 (1996). Novel.

10. The Lesser Blessed (Van Camp)

Publisher’s description: Internationally praised and the subject of a critically acclaimed film, Richard Van Camp’s bestselling novel about coming of age in Canada’s North has achieved the status of an Indigenous classic. The Lesser Blessed tracks the exploits of Larry Sole, a Dogrib teenager living in the small Northern town of Fort Simmer. After losing much of his memory in a violent accident, what he loves more than anything is reading, hearing and collecting stories. With no interest in booze or sports, he floats on the edges of high school life, sustained by his love of Iron Maiden and a hopeless passion for school hottie Juliet Hope. When good-looking, trouble-seeking Johnny Beck moves into town, he shakes up Larry’s dreamy existence and leads him into a life of sex, drugs and violence, bringing him face to face with memories that he’s done his best to lose.