Dumont, Dawn (Cree). Rose’s Run. Thistledown Press, 2014. Novel.

50. Rose's-Run (Dumont)

Publisher’s description: Rose Okanese, a single mother with two kids, has been pushed into a corner by Rez citizens to claim some self-respect, and decides that the fastest way to do that is to run the reserve’s annual marathon. But as fate will have it, one rather huge unforeseen outcome of her decision is that she will have to do battle with an old inadvertently conjured demon that feeds off the strength of women and can have them do her bidding. With a cast of unusual and unfamiliar characters, Dumont interweaves a tale of motherly love, friendship, lustful longing, wîhtikow lore, and Rez humour, and keeps the hoopla going until the race is done.

Highway, Tomson (Cree). The Rez Sisters. Fifth House, 1992 (1988). Drama.

21. The Rez Sisters (Highway)

Publisher’s description: This award-winning play by Native [Cree] playwright Tomson Highway is a powerful and moving portrayal of seven women from a reserve attempting to beat the odds by winning at bingo. And not just any bingo. It is THE BIGGEST BINGO IN THE WORLD and a chance to win a way out of a tortured life. The Rez Sisters is hilarious, shocking, mystical and powerful, and clearly establishes the creative voice of Native theatre and writing in Canada today.

Hungry Wolf, Beverly (Blackfoot). The Ways of My Grandmothers. HarperCollinsCanada, 1998. Memoir/oral tradition.

46. The Ways of My Grandmothers (Hungry Wolf)

Publisher’s description: A young Blackfoot woman creates a hauntingly beautiful tribute to an age-old way of life in this fascinating portrait of the women of the Blackfoot people. A captivating tapestry of personal and tribal history, legends and myths, and the wisdom passed down through generations of women, this extraordinary book is also a priceless record of the traditional skills and ways of an ancient culture. Including many rare photographs, The Ways of My Grandmothers is an authentic contribution to our knowledge and understanding of Blackfoot traditions—and a classic that will speak to women everywhere.

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.

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.

Peeteetuce, Curtis (Cree). Nicimos: The Last Rez Christmas Story. Scirocco Drama, 2015. Drama.

32. Nicimos (Peeteetuce)

Publisher’s description: This Christmas season, things have gone awry for the kohkoms of Kiwetinohk. Clare Bear is engaged to be married, Zula Merasty is moving off-reserve and Sihkos Sinclare is in jail. It all comes to fruition at Clare’s stagette. As the Saskatoon Star Phoenix writes, “Nicimos means sweetheart in Cree and that’s what this play is. A warm-hearted sweetheart with depth and charm and a great sense of humour. The final instalment of the Rez Christmas series finds Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company director-writer Curtis Peeteetuce in outstanding form.”

Scofield, Gregory (Métis). I Knew Two Métis Women. Gabriel Dumont Institute, 1999. Poetry/music.

3. I-Knew-Two-Metis-Women (Scofield)

Publisher’s description: Gregory Scofield’s I Knew Two Métis Women recreates the world of his childhood and celebrates his Métis family. The unforgettable voices of his mother Dorothy Scofield and aunt Georgina Houle Young wind through the book, telling tall tales, soothing hurts, offering love and sly humour as an antidote to hardship, poverty, violence, and prejudice. When words alone no longer suffice, the women turn to the music of country and western legends whose songs reflect and refract their lives. The poems reveal that integrity and beauty exist alongside hardship and oppression. The two companion CDs include Scofield’s dynamic reading accompanied by the voices and music of an impressive group of performing artists including John Arcand, Maria Campbell, Tantoo Cardinal, Andrea Menard, and Donny Parenteau.

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.