Alexie, Robert Arthur (Gwich’in). The Pale Indian. Penguin Canada, 2005. Novel.

19. The Pale Indian (Alexie)

Publisher’s description: A heartbreaking love story set against the beauty of the north. In 1972, John Daniel, an eleven-year-old Blue Indian from Aberdeen in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and his six-year-old sister, Eva, were brought to live with a white couple in Alberta, having been removed from their parents by the Powers that Be. John promised he’d never go back. But in October 1984, at twenty-two, he broke that promise. A job with a drilling company brought him back to the land of his people, and Tina Joseph, to whom he was deeply attracted, encouraged him to confront the sad truths of his parents’ lives. In a compelling combination of storytelling and truth-telling, The Pale Indian recalls the power and passion of its predecessor, Porcupines and China Dolls. It is a novel of secrets, lies, and madness written with power and eloquence.

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.

Baker, Marie Annharte (Anishinaabe). Indigena Awry. New Star Books, 2012.

25. Indigena Awry (Baker)

Publisher’s description: NDN word warrior Marie Annharte Baker’s fourth book of poems, Indigena Awry, is her largest and wildest yet. It collects a decade’s worth of verse — fifty–nine poems. Set noticeably in Winnipeg and Vancouver, but in many other places on either side of the Medicine Line as well, the poems are a laser–eyed meander through contested streets filled with racism, classism, and sexism. Shot through with sex and violence and struggle and sadness and trauma, her work is always set to detect and confront the delusions of colonialism and its discontents. These poems are informed by a sceptical spirituality. They call for justice for NDNs through the Permanent Resistance that goes around in cities. This is bruising and exacting stuff, but Annharte is also one of poetry’s best jokers.

Bouvier, Rita (Métis). nakamowin’sa for the seasons. Thistledown Press, 2016. Poetry.

17. nakamowin'sa for the seasons (Bouvier)

Publisher’s description: Rita Bouvier’s third collection of poetry is a response to the highs and lows of life and represents an attempt at restoring order through embracing others, reconciling the traumas caused by the deep scars of history, and soaring beyond life’s awkward and painful moments in order to live joyfully. Inspired by the metaphor of a voyageur sustained by song on his journeys up and down the rivers of Northwest Saskatchewan, these “wordsongs for the seasons” draw heavily on images from nature as well as the joys, heartaches and transgressions Bouvier has witnessed and experienced as a Métis woman. Using imagery strongly connected to the natural environment, Bouvier evokes earth’s regeneration through the seasons as inspiration for moving forward.

Deerchild, Rosanna (Cree). Calling Down the Sky. BookLand Press, 2015. Poetry.

COVER July 2015 Calling Down the Sky

Publisher’s description: Calling Down the Sky is a poetry collection that describes deep personal experiences and post-generational effects of the Canadian Aboriginal Residential School confinements. Many children in the schools were forbidden to speak their language and practice their own culture. Rosanna Deerchild exposes how the Residential Schools systematically undermined Aboriginal culture across Canada and disrupted families for generations, severing the ties through which Aboriginal culture is taught and sustained, and contributing to a general loss of language and culture. The devastating effects of the residential schools are far-reaching and continue to have significant impact on Aboriginal communities.

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.

Halfe, Louise Bernice (Skydancer) (Cree). Burning in this Midnight Dream. Coteau Books, 2016. Poetry.

9. Burning_inthis_Midnight_Dream (Halfe)

Publisher’s description: Burning in this Midnight Dream is the latest collection of poems by Louise Bernice Halfe. Many were written in response to the grim tide of emotions, memories, dreams and nightmares that arose in her as the Truth and Reconciliation process unfolded. With fearlessly wrought verse, Halfe describes how the experience of the residential schools continues to haunt those who survive, and how the effects pass like a virus from one generation to the next. She asks us to consider the damage done to children taken from their families, to families mourning their children; damage done to entire communities and to ancient cultures. Halfe’s poetic voice soars in this incredibly moving collection as she digs deep to discover the root of her pain. Her images, created from the natural world, reveal the spiritual strength of her culture.

Lindberg, Tracey (Cree). Birdie. HarperCollinsCanada, 2016. Novel.

40. Birdie (Lindberg)

Publisher’s description: Bernice Meetoos will not be broken. A big, beautiful Cree woman with a dark secret in her past, Bernice (“Birdie”) has left her home in northern Alberta to travel to Gibsons, B.C. She is on something of a vision quest, looking for family, for home, for understanding. She is also driven by the leftover teenaged desire to meet Pat Johns–Jesse from The Beachcombers–because he is, as she says, a working, healthy Indian man. Birdie heads for Molly’s Reach to find answers, but they are not the ones she expected. With the arrival in Gibsons of her Auntie Val and her cousin Skinny Freda, Birdie begins to draw from her dreams the lessons she was never fully taught in life. Informed by the lore and knowledge of Cree traditions, Birdie is a darkly comic and moving first novel about the universal experience of recovering from tragedy. At heart, it is the story of an extraordinary woman who travels to the deepest part of herself to find the strength to face the past and to build a new life.

Loring, Kevin (Nlaka’pamux). Where the Blood Mixes. Talonbooks, 2009. Drama.

29. Where the Blood Mixes (Loring)

Publisher’s description: Though torn down years ago, the memories of their Residential School still live deep inside the hearts of those who spent their childhoods there. For some, like Floyd, the legacy of that trauma has been passed down through families for generations. But what is the greater story, what lies untold beneath Floyd’s alcoholism, under the pain and isolation of the play’s main character? Can a person survive their past; can a people survive their history? Irreverently funny and brutally honest, Where the Blood Mixes is a story about loss and redemption. Caught in a shadowy pool of alcoholic pain and guilt, Floyd is a man who has lost everyone he holds most dear. Now after more than two decades, his daughter Christine returns home to confront her father. Set during the salmon run, Where the Blood Mixes takes us to the bottom of the river, to the heart of a People.

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.