Indigenous Authors Share their Story

  • Arts   Wed, Jul 14th, 2021   Rowan Bleaney, Library Clerk at RWLibrary

To better understand Canada’s residential school system, or to explain it to young children, the best place to begin is with the work of indigenous authors. Here are a few suggested titles available from your local RWLibrary.
For children, “When We Were Alone” by David Robertson is a gentle starting place, told as a conversation between a young girl and her grandmother. Similarly, “The Train” by Jodie Callaghan, explores intergenerational trauma through a dialogue between a girl and her great-uncle. For children who are ready to tackle difficult subjects more directly, the library recommends, “I Am Not a Number” by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer.
For adults, the novel “Five Little Indians” by Michelle Good, follows the life and struggles of five residential school survivors. “Seven Fallen Feathers” by Tanya Talaga, is a nonfiction investigation into the death of seven students who were forced to leave their families and communities to access a high school education. Finally, to learn more broadly about the history of indigenous oppression in Canada, try “21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act” by Bob Joseph.
For book clubs and other groups who want to learn together, consider borrowing a Book Club in a Bag kit by an indigenous author. “Fatty Legs,” by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, is a middle-school-appropriate look at the residential school systems based on Pokiak’s own experiences in the system. For adults, the novel “Indian Horse” by Richard Wagamese examines many of the same issues.
For an additional resource, including indigenous language-learning resources and local history, visit or contact the Ask a Librarian service at 226-748-8030.