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.

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.

Francis, Marvin (Cree). city treaty: a long poem. Turnstone Press, 2002. Poetry.

16. city treat (Francis)

Publisher’s description: Gritty and fresh, Marvin Francis’s long poem, city treaty, tackles the tough issues of cultural assimilation and the challenges faced by a traditional community trying to locate itself in the urban context. Marvin Francis’s poetry breaks linguistic conventions and leaps off the page.

Freeman, Minnie Aodla (Inuit). Life Among the Qallunaat. University of Manitoba Press, 2015. Ed. Keavy Martin, Julie Rak, & Norma Dunning. Memoir.

41. Life Among the Qallunaat (Freeman)

Publisher’s description: Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s. Mini Aodla Freeman was born in 1936 on Cape Hope Island in James Bay. Life Among the Qallunaat was first published in 1978 and is the third book in the First Voices, First Texts series, which publishes lost or underappreciated texts by Indigenous writers. This critical edition of Mini Aodla Freeman’s groundbreaking work includes revisions based on the original typescript, an interview with the author, and an afterword by Keavy Martin, Julie Rak, and Norma Dunning.

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.

Rice, Waubgeshig (Anishinaabe). Legacy. Theytus Books, 2014. Novel.

47. Legacy (Rice)

Publisher’s description: Legacy is the first novel by Waubgeshig Rice, whose collection of stories, Midnight Sweatlodge, was the Gold Medal Winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, 2012 for Adult Multicultural Fiction. Set in the 1990s, Legacy deals with violence against a young Indigenous woman and its lingering after-shocks on an Anishnawbe family in Ontario. Its themes of injustice, privilege and those denied it, reconciliation and revenge, are as timely as today’s headlines.

Vermette, Katherena (Métis). The Break. House of Anansi, 2016. Novel.

2. The Break (Vermette)

Publisher’s description: When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break—a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house—she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime. In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim—police, family, and friends—tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed. A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.