THE BARREN GROUNDS – Book One of THE MISEWA SAGA by Award-winning Canadian Indigenous author DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Title: THE BARREN GROUNDS  

Series: THE MISEWA SAGA – BOOK 1

Author: DAVID A. ROBERTSON

Genre:  MIDDLE GRADE FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY

Length: 256 PAGES

Publisher: PUFFIN CANADA – A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

ISBN: 9780735266100

Price: $17.99 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.

Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home — until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything — including them.

MY REVIEW:

THE BARREN GROUNDS is the first in a series of Middle-Grade Indigenous/Fantasy novels. The series is titled THE MISEWA SAGA and has a Narnia-esque theme.

The story begins with Morgan, an angry preteen Indigenous girl who was placed into the foster care system as a toddler. That system is all she knows, and, as is often the case in real life, her experiences in foster care have not been pleasant.

Placed with a young couple who are new to foster parenting, Morgan resists all attempts at bonding because she is extremely cognizant of the fact that she can be sent back to an orphanage or on to another foster home at any time. “You’ll see. The world will harden you.” This seems to be Morgan’s issue. She has been thrown away all her life – even her biological mother didn’t want her. 

Her foster parents bring a boy into their home who is a year younger than Morgan, named Eli. Eli is Indigenous, as is Morgan, but because she was placed into the system as a toddler, she knows nothing about her rich cultural background. But, Eli does.

When Eli draws a detailed scene, it somehow opens a portal to another reality. When Eli goes into the portal, Morgan goes after him to bring him back.

What they discover is a land out of Indigenous lore. With talking animals who walk on two legs, and a land stuck in perpetual winter, Morgan and Eli learn about their heritage.

Eli and Morgan set out on an epic quest to save the “two-leggeds” and their world from perpetual winter.

The adventures they have teach them that it isn’t always blood that creates a family.

They also learn that whether they are aware of their Indigenaity or not, it does not matter. That does not make them any less Indigenous than those who are aware of their heritage.

This story brings attention to the fact that too many Indigenous children are being removed from their parents and placed into foster care, often with non-Indigenous foster parents who are more interested in the money provided to them by government than in having the child become a true member of their family. There are definitely some amazing foster parents, but, unfortunately, the majority of foster kids tend to have multiple negative experiences before finding an acceptable placement. Many foster kids learn almost nothing about their heritage and culture and there is a vast difference between growing up in a white culture and growing up in an Indigenous culture.

All in all, this book has everything a Middle-Grade reader can possibly want and I think the MISEWA SAGA will be a hit.

I rate this book as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book. **


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

DAVID A. ROBERTSON is the author of numerous books for young readers including When We Were Alone, which won the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award and was nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award.

Strangers, the first book in his Reckoner trilogy, a young adult supernatural mystery, won the 2018 Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction (Manitoba Book Awards).

David educates as well as entertains through his writings about Indigenous Peoples, reflecting their cultures, histories, communities, as well as illuminating many contemporary issues.

A sought-after speaker and educator, Dave is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation and currently lives in Winnipeg.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.darobertson.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

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DAVID A. ROBERTSON is also the author of several important Indigenous Peoples books and now has a podcast about his life.

FIVE LITTLE INDIANS by Debut Novelist Michelle Good is a FANTASTIC Book, and One that will resonate deeply with all Canadians who believe in justice. 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I absolutely LOVE the cover of this book. Bravo! The birch trees are significant as are the silhouettes.

Title: FIVE LITTLE INDIANS

Author: MICHELLE GOOD

Genre: FICTION, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, CANADIAN FICTION, TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION, BASED ON TRUE STORIES

Length: 304 PAGES

Publisher: HARPER COLLINS

Release Date: APRIL 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4434-5918-1 (Softcover)

Price: $22.99 CDN (Softcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.

Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement.

Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations.

Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can’t stop running and moves restlessly from job to job—through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps—trying to outrun his memories and his addiction.

Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together.

After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew.

With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward.

MY REVIEW:

FIVE LITTLE INDIANS is a book that everyone in North America needs to read. This may be Fiction, but it is based in reality and the five main characters are a great representation of what happened to the Indigenous children who were forced to attend Residential Schools.

These Residential Schools are a shameful part of Canada’s past and the harm they caused has resonated through multiple generations. That pain is still being felt by Indigenous People to this day. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is attempting to compensate the victims, and to tell their stories, but the hurt and victimization runs deep.

This novel concentrates on a handful of children, all of whom attended the same residential school. It follows them throughout their lives and readers are taken along for the ride.

The difference between this book and the various others that have been published is that FIVE LITTLE INDIANS focuses mainly on what happens to the children once they leave the Residential School system.

As each child reaches the age of release, they are given nothing but a bus ticket to Vancouver. Arriving in the city is sensory overload for these teenagers who have only ever lived either on remote reserves or at the school. I can only imagine how confused and scared they must have been.

It is amazing to me that any of them survived, but, as is demonstrated in the book, there is a huge difference between surviving and thriving.

With succinct yet heartfelt prose, readers will feel a fraction of the pain of the characters in the book, and even though it is only a fraction, it is enough to bring the reader to tears. (I am not ashamed to say that it made me cry.)

Although there are moments of unbelievable sadness and flashes of rage and violence, the story also contains momentous instances of love and inspiring occassions of spirituality. It is during these amazing and wonderous moments that the reader’s heart will soar alongside that of the characters.

I hope to read more books by Michelle Good in the near future. I would like it if she wrote about the generation of children who came from the Residential School Survivors and how their parents and grandparents traumatic experiences affects generation after generation.

I would be doing the world a great disservice if I was to rate FIVE LITTLE INDIANS as anything less than 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I urge every Canadian to purchase a copy of FIVE LITTLE INDIANS asap.

It is imperative that we educate ourselves and our children about our country’s pastincluding the shameful parts.

It is by acknowledging the harm done that we can learn from it so that these mistakes are never repeated.

In addition to avoiding past mistakes, it is my hope that books such as this one will help to foster a better, less adversarial relationship between Indigenous Peoples and other ethnicities.

WE MUST ELIMINATE RACISM NOW!!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michelle Good is a writer of Cree ancestry and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

She obtained her law degree after three decades of working with indigenous communities and organizations.

She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, while still practising law, and won the HarperCollins/UBC Prize in 2018.

Her poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies across Canada.

Michelle Good lives and writes in south central British Columbia.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
https://www.michellegood.ca

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

A BIT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE RED PHEASANT CREE NATION:

**Information Copied From: https://www.batc.ca/member_first_nations/red_pheasant.html

History

Prior to signing treaty, Chief Wuttunee (Porcupine) and his CREE band hunted and fished along the Battle River, and as settlers moved into the Battleford region where they conducted trade.

Though Wuttunee was chief at the signing of TREATY 6 on September 9, 1876, he was not in favour of the treaty and appointed his brother Red Pheasant to sign for him.

The department recognized Red Pheasant as the band’s chief from that point. In 1878 the band settled on their reserve in the Eagle Hills, where the land was good and there was enough forest to enable them to hunt.

Red Pheasant day school opened in 1880, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church was built in 1885 on land set aside for that purpose when the reserve was surveyed.

The reserve is located 33 km south of NORTH BATTLEFORD, with an infrastructure that includes a band office, band hall, school and teacherage, public works building, fire hall, and a treatment centre.

The main economic base is agriculture, but the reserve hosts a band-owned grocery store, and in 1997 the band signed an oil and gas agreement with Wascana Energy Inc.

The band’s successful completion of a Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement has enabled them to increase their reserve’s size to 29,345.7 ha, and invest in furthering economic development.

The band has 1,893 registered members, 608 of whom live on the reserve.

AND THE WINNER IS…

Thank you to everyone who entered my Giveaway to win an autographed copy of FROM THE ASHES by JESSE THISTLE.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

#1 National Bestseller
Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
Globe and Mail Book of the Year
An Indigo Book of the Year
A CBC Best Canadian Nonfiction Book of the Year

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute…then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.

The Winner is…

KAY BURKE

I have emailed the winner. Again, thank you to everyone who entered.

Keep watching my blog for more Giveaways coming soon.

Author Jesse Thistle
Photography by Lucie Thistle

THE EAGLE MOTHER written by Indigenous Author and HETXW’MS GYETXW (BRETT D. HUSON) with illustrations by award-winning Métis Illustrator NATASHA DONOVAN – A Feast for the eyes and the soul

Title: THE EAGLE MOTHER

Series: MOTHERS OF XSAN SERIES – BOOK THREE

Author: HETXW’MS GYETXW (BRETT D. HUSON)

Illustrator: NATASHA DONOVAN

Genre: NON-FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE NON-FICTION, MULTICULTURAL INTEREST, INDIGENOUS NON-FICTION, CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION

Length:  32 PAGES

Publisher: HIGHWATER PRESS – A Division of PORTAGE AND MAIN PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 28, 2020

ISBN: 9781553798590 (Hardcover)

Price: $23.00 USD (Hardcover)

Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Return to the valleys of the River of Mists with award-winning author Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson).

Nox xsgyaak, the eagle mother, cares for her brood in the embrace of a black cottonwood with the help of her mate.

Will both eaglets survive the summer in an environment that is both delicate and unforgiving?

Learn about the life cycle of these stunning birds of prey, the traditions of the Gitxsan, and how bald eagles can enrich their entire ecosystem.

Evocative illustration brings the Xsan’s flora and fauna to life for middle years readers in book three of the Mothers of Xsan series.

*A Note From the Publisher *


Other Titles in the Mothers of Xsan series include:

The Sockeye Mother

The Grizzly Mother

The Wolf Mother [forthcoming]

The Frog Mother [forthcoming]
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MY REVIEW:

THE EAGLE MOTHER is a stunningly beautiful illustrated non-fiction book.

THE EAGLE MOTHER is a feast for the eyes and for the soul.

It is the story explaining the life cycle of a female eagle as well as the story of how everything is connected.

An example of what I mean by that is that both the words and the illustrations show how the fish caught by the mother eagle is brought by her to the nest to feed her babies, the bones and other detritus are discarded on the ground around the trunk of the cottonwood tree holding the nest. This in turn leads to a rich mixture of soil encouraging plant growth. There are several other examples of the circular cycle of life detailed in the text, as well as in illustrated form.

Where words appear that may be new, or unfamiliar, included on that page is a box containing the words and their definitions. This is a wonderful touch.

The only area I could possibly come up with as needing improvement would be the inclusion of a text box, similar to the one containing definitions, that listed the Gitxsan words alongside how to pronounce them phonetically. I would love to know that I am reading the words correctly when reading this book to my children and/or grandchildren.

This book is available in eBook format as well as in printed form. I based my review on the eBook version, but the illustrations are so gorgeous that I have decided to purchase it in printed form as well.

I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the other two books in the MOTHERS OF XSAN Series, but I plan to read and review each of them. Also, coming soon are two more book in the series. Their titles are: THE WOLF MOTHER and THE FROG MOTHER.

This book (in fact, the entire ‘Mothers of Xsan’ series) should be available at every Canadian library, and in every Canadian school. Parents who want their children to learn about the animal kingdom as well as learn about different cultures should order this book immediately.

I rate this children’s non-fiction book as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

**** Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with a free copy of this book.****

P.S. Since I READ CANADIAN DAY is only two days away, this book series would be perfect as your choice for that day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

HETXW’MS GYETXW also known as Brett D. Huson (he/him/his), is from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

Growing up in this strong matrilineal society, Brett developed a passion for the culture, land, and politics of his people, and a desire to share their knowledge and stories. 

Brett has worked in the film and television industry, and has volunteered for such organizations as Ka Ni Kanichihk and Indigenous Music Manitoba.

The Sockeye Mother (winner of The Science Writers and Communicators Book Award) was Brett’s first book for children.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON  

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

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ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Natasha Donovan – Self-Portrait

NATASHA DONOVAN (she/her/hers) is a freelance artist and illustrator from Vancouver, British Columbia.

Her sequential work has been published in The Other Side and This Place: 150 Years Retold anthologies.

She is the illustrator of the award-winning graphic novel Surviving the City, as well as the award-winning children’s book, The Sockeye Mother (shortlisted for the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian Children’s Non-Fiction), the first book in the Mothers of Xsan series.

Natasha is a member of the Métis Nation of British Columbia.

To learn more about this Illustrator, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

Portage & Main Press (PMP) is an educational publisher of K-12 resources including the curriculum-based Hands-On series and professional resources for inclusive and diverse classrooms.

HighWater Press (HWP), an imprint of PMPM, publishes a wide range of award-winning Indigenous-authored stories. These authentic stories, told by some of Canada’s most recognized Indigenous writers, include globally relevant social justice themes and the re-telling of historical events. HWP’s vibrant and thought-provoking books include a rich mix of non-fiction, novels, graphic novels, and children’s literature.

To learn more about this Publisher, visit the following links:

PORTAGE AND MAIN PRESS

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

YOUTUBE

TWITTER

Let me know in the comment section below what book you and/or your child is reading for
“I Read Canadian Day” and you may win a bookish prize.

#mothersofxsan #NetGalley #theeaglemother #eaglemother #indigenous #childrensnonfiction #kidlit #brettdhuson #hetxwmsgyetxw #natashadonovan #illustrated #illustratedbook #multicultural #diversity #diversebooks #noxxsgyaak #Gitxsan #gitxsannation #culture #indigenousculture #eagles #xsgyaak
#youngadultbooks  #indigenousstorytelling  #indigenousbooks

SPLIT TOOTH by TANYA TAGAQ on Audiobook is a sensory experience not to be missed

Title: SPLIT TOOTH

Author: TANYA TAGAQ

Narrator: TANYA TAGAQ

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, DIVERSE NON-FICTION, THROAT SINGING, ABUSE

Length: 5 HOURS and 43 MINUTES

Publisher: VIKING AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Release Date: SEPTEMBER 25, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never heard before, a fierce, tender, heartbreaking story unlike anything you’ve ever heard.

Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy and friendship and parents’ love. She knows boredom and listlessness and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.

Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine listeners will never forget.
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https://player.vimeo.com/video/348888772
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MY REVIEW:

**TRIGGER WARNING **
This book contains descriptions of child sexual abuse. If this topic is a trigger for you, I suggest you give this book a pass.
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I purchased a copy of this audiobook from Audible and now that I have finished listening to it, I believe audio is the best way to experience SPLIT TOOTH.

I feel so privileged to have listened to author Tanya Tagaq read her book aloud. Traditionally, the Inuit people passed down their stories and traditions in exactly this manner. Oral storytelling was the norm.

Not only does the author read this book with emotion and depth of experience,  she also includes quite a bit of Throat Singing which is incredible to listen to.
The sounds are somehow both ethereal and haunting and despite the lack of lyrics, or maybe because of it, the meanings behind the sounds are quite clear.

Poignant. Visceral. Heart-breaking and real. Tanya Tagaq manages to convey her story in such a unique fashion that it is impossible to ever forget. Despite the heaviness of some of the subject matter, there are many moments of joy, happiness, peace, and a sense of belonging to something greater than herself.

The unfortunate details of abuse, both physical and sexual that Tanya endured as a child were perpetrated by those who should have been her protectors.

No matter what she endured, she knew that she was capable of survival.

The evils of the Canadian Residential Schools had so thoroughly erased her native language that hardly anyone in her ‘town’ knew how to speak it anymore. Not only that, but unthinkable abuses – sexual, physical, cultural and mental were forced upon Residential School “students,” (who were actually prisoners, since neither the children, nor their parents had any choice about attending.)

Make no mistake – these “schools” were an attempt at genocide of the Inuit and of all Indigenous people. There is no excuse or apology that can be adequate enough to erase the damage they caused. And, that damage has reached across the hands of time and affected many children of subsequent generations, including Tanya herself.

Don’t mistake my description to mean that Tanya Tagaq’s memoir is a litany of anger and complaint. It is anything but. Her writing is akin to reading her diary. Listening to the audiobook, I feel as though I have seen inside her very soul. If that sounds over dramatic, I apologize, it is truly the way I feel.

This audiobook is not to be missed. I am sure that just reading the book would be a terrific experience, but as I said above, audio format makes this book not just a story, but also an experience.

I am rating SPLIT TOOTH by TANYA TAGAQ as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tanya also has many music albums available for purchase and after hearing some of her traditional throat singing, I will be downloading her music as well.
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QUOTES:

Examples of the artwork Tanya Tagaq has created.

“… pain is to be expected, courage is to be welcomed. There is no choice but to endure. There is no other way than to renounce self-doubt. It is the time of the Dawning in more ways than one. The sun can rise, and so can I.”
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“In the spring you smell last fall’s death and this year’s growth as the elder lichen shows the young how to grow.”
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“We are product of the immense torque that propels this universe. We are not individuals but a great accumulation of all that lived before.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photograph obtained from Tanya Tagaq’s website

Author, Throat singer, artist. Tanya Tagaq is multi-talented.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://tanyatagaq.com

AUDIBLE

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SPOTIFY

ITUNES

SOUNDCLOUD


AWARDS WON BY THIS BOOK:

Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon First Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Prose in English

Winner of the 2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design – Prose Fiction

Longlisted for the 2019 Sunburst Award

FROM THE ASHES by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE has become One of my Favorite Books of All Time. ENTER TO WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK. Open Worldwide

Title: FROM THE ASHES

Subtitle: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way

Author: JESSE THISTLE

Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, ADDICTION, MENTAL HEALTH, MÉTIS, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, HOMELESSNESS

Publisher: SIMON AND SCHUSTER

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: AUGUST 6, 2019

ISBN: 9781982101213

Price: $24.99 CDN

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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DESCRIPTION:

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heart-warming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
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MY REVIEW:

FROM THE ASHES is written by the uber-talented Métis-Cree Canadian author JESSE THISTLE. This is a touching and incredibly honest  memoir written by the man most people believed would not live long enough to straighten out his life.

Those people have been proven wrong and FROM THE ASHES tells Jesse’s life story so far.

FROM THE ASHES by Jesse Thistle is one of the most well written and honest memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Jesse is a Métis Canadian and although he never once blames his situation on colonization, his story and the situations his family was forced into by the Canadian government are perfect illustrations of it’s cause and effect.

Jesse’s memoir is written with bone-jarring honesty and will get under the reader’s skin. Only a sociopath would be able to read this book and not feel the power of the written word.

This is the story of a young man who turned to drugs and alcohol to try to push down the pain he felt inside. It is a story that seems bleak at times, but ultimately shows the strength of the human spirit. It is the story of the struggle, literally, for Jesse’s survival.

Without giving away too much of Jesse’s story, I want potential readers to know that this memoir is one that will remain with them long, long after the final page. To go from homeless to becoming a celebrated memoirist is a feat worthy of legend.

Jesse Thistle might not agree, but I see him as a modern day Theseus, fighting his way out of the labyrinth of poverty and Addiction.

This book is one of my Top Ten Best Books of the Modern Era.

To win a softcover copy of this book, leave a comment on this post, then click HERE for ways to get additional entries into the Giveaway. OPEN WORLDWIDE. ENDS FEBRUARY 29, 2020.

You can also enter to win this book on my Instagram account: http://www.instagram.com/Amiesbookreviews
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Photography Credit:
LUCIE THISTLE

JESSE THISTLE is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

He is an assistant professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto.

He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar.

He lives in Toronto with his wife, Lucie.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

INSTAGRAM

TWITTER

AMAZON

CHAPTERS

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

AWARDS WON BY JESSE:

  • Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Award – Ph. D., Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. 2016 – 2019 ($240,000; $40,000 per year of study, plus $20,000 annual research and travel budget).
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS SSHRC) – Ph.D., Canadian Institute of Health Research and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($150,000 – $50,000 per year of study).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Doctoral of Philosophy, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2016 – 2019 ($105,000 – $35,000 per year of study). (Declined because he took the Trudeau Award and the Vanier CGS SSHRC Award).
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) – Master’s, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. 2015 ($17,500).
  • 2016 Aboriginal Professional Association of Canada Post-Secondary Student of the Year Award—Nation-wide. (Prestige).
  • Dan Watt Scholarship (Awarded to the Master’s level graduate student with the top GPA entering Waterloo’s Master’s program) – Master’s, Waterloo University. 2015 ($1,500).
  • President’s Graduate Scholarship, University of Waterloo, 2015 ($10,000).
  • Odessa Essay Prize for the Study of Canada (York University, university wide). 2015 ($1000).
  • The Robert J. Tiffin Student Leadership Award, York University. 2015 (Prestige: Name inscribed on Vari Hall Rotunda, Keele Campus).
  • The Dr. James Wu Prize Best Honours Thesis/Major Research Paper for York University’s 3rd Annual Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Fair 2015 ($1000).
  • Miziwe Biik: Aboriginal Education Award, 2015 ($1000), 2014 ($1000), 2013 ($2000).
  • Desmond Hart Memorial Essay Award Winner. History; York University, 4000 level, 2014 ($200).
  • Indispire: Building Better Indigenous Futures Post-Secondary Education Award, 2015 ($7500), 2014 ($5000), 2013 ($6900) & 2012 ($2000).
  • The Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies Essay Prize Winner, York University, 3000 level Anthropology, 2014 ($100).
  • York University Faculty Association Foundation Undergraduate (YUFA) Scholarship, highest cumulative grade point average in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies. GPA 8.59 and Major GPA 8.73. 2014 ($3500).
  • International Scholar Laureate Nominee. Golden Key IHS: 2013.
  • Arthur Francis Williams Award in Canadian Studies, 2013 ($500).
  • Morris Krever History Prize Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($1000).
  • The Enbridge Inc. Scholarship Award, 2013 ($2365).
  • The Women’s Canadian Historical Society of Toronto Award Winner, History, York University. 2013 ($300).
  • William Westfall Canadian Studies Essay Prize, History, York University, 3000 level, 2013.
  • York PhD Graduate Scholarship, York University, 2017 ($3000).

Bursary Awards

  • York University Continuing Student Scholarship Bursary (given to students above 7.00 grade point average), 2014 ($768), 2013 ($576) & 2012 ($864).
  • Aboriginal PSET Bursary, York University, 2012 ($2600).
  • York University Undergrad Bursary, 2012 ($1010).

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TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS AND/OR TO DOWNLOAD INFORMATION AS WELL AS LESSON PLANS, GO TO THE HOMELESS HUB:

The Inaugural I READ CANADIAN DAY is Coming Soon – And I Am Hosting A Terrific Giveaway ENTER TO WIN NOW!

FEBRUARY 19, 2020 is the First Ever I READ CANADIAN DAY.

The inaugural I READ CANADIAN DAY is a national day of celebration of Canadian books for young people.  This is a day dedicated to ‘reading Canadian’ and will empower families, schools, libraries and organizations to host local activities and events within the week.

For example, libraries or book stores can create a local I Read Canadian display for a month, or host author and illustrator visits during the week of the I Read Canadian day. Schools or communities can create challenges to get more readers involved – see how many readers can read Canadian.

GOAL: The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of Canadian books and celebrate the richness, diversity and breadth of Canadian literature.

WHEN: February 19th, 2020.

ACTION: We challenge the nation to “Read Canadianfor 15 minutes and to share their experience at their library, in their school, with their families and friends, or on social media Young people are encouraged to read, or be read to, a Canadian book of their choice.

SIGN YOUR READERS UP FOR FREE

TOOLS FOR YOUR I READ CANADIAN DAY 

NEWS/MEDIA

Canadian School Libraries Journal Article – November 4, 2019

Quill & Quire Article – Northern Exposure – December 2019

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

So, I really want to encourage everyone to join in on I READ CANADIAN DAY on February 19th, 2020

To encourage readers of all ages to sign up, I will be giving away books by Canadian authors from my stockpile.

So, HOW DO YOU ENTER TO WIN? Entering is easy. Click on the Giveaway and complete each task for more and more entries.

WHAT CAN YOU WIN?

I will be giving away a softcover copy of FROM THE ASHES: MY STORY OF BEING MÉTIS, HOMELESS AND FINDING MY WAY by Métis Canadian Author JESSE THISTLE.

Because I want to promote Canadian authors to everyone on the planet, this Giveaway is OPEN WORLDWIDE.

GIVEAWAY starts TODAY and Ends at midnight on the last day of February.

I READ CANADIAN DAY (February 19, 2020)

ABOUT THE PRIZE:

Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Photo Credit: Lucie Thistle

My Review of FROM THE ASHES will be posted by the end of this week.

NIBI IS WATER / nibi aawan nbiish BY Award Winning Indigenous Author JOANNE ROBERTSON is a must have for your library. Read below to find out why…

Title: NIBI IS WATER / nibi aawan nbiish

Author & Illustrator: JOANNE ROBERTSON

Translators: SHIRLEY WILSON and ISADORE TOULOUSE

Genre: CHILDREN’S NON-FICTION, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, INDIGENOUS NON-FICTION, ENVIRONMENT, WATER, INDIGENOUS AUTHOR

Length: 28 PAGES

Publisher: SECOND STORY PRESS

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: APRIL 14, 2020

ISBN: 9781772601329

Price: $10.95 Hardcover with Jacket

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

A  first conversation about the importance of Nibi—which means water in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)—and our role to thank, respect, love, and protect it.

Babies and toddlers can follow Nibi as it rains and snows, splashes or rows, drips and sips.

Written from an Anishinaabe water protector’s perspective, the book is in dual languages — English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe). 
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Joanne Robertson reads her new book about Josephine Mandamin to a class in Thunder Bay. They want to inspire kids to protect clean water.
(Photo by Jackie McKay )

MY REVIEW:

Beautifully yet simply illustrated, NIBI IS WATER is a gorgeous primer about water and it’s sacred role in Indigenous culture.

This book is being marketed as a children’s book, but it is also a terrific resource for those who are interested in learning a few important words in the Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) traditional language.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if people in Canada (and elsewhere) picked an Indigenous language and learned to speak it fluently. I, for one, would love to learn to speak this lyrical and gentle language. After reading this book and repeating the words outloud over and over again, I have made my first steps to making this a reality.

As I was reading through the pages and enjoying the incredible artwork, I was wishing that there was a pronunciation guide. Little did I know that my wish was about to be granted. On the final page of the book is a pronunciation primer that spells out each word phonetically. I was very pleased.

Canada’s shameful history of it’s treatment of Indigenous peoples has been exposed, but has not yet been fully stopped. Water is life and too many Indigenous lands contain polluted and contaminated water supplies. This needs to be fixed and reading and purchasing books such as this one is a start.

I rate NIBI IS WATER as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and would like to thank NetGalley and Orbit Books for providing me with a free advance copy of this book.

Pre-Order your copy today and come back and let me know what you thought of it once it officially releases in April 2020.
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https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XY8Diu9sgdU
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joanne Robertson is AnishinaabeKwe and a member of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek.

She received her Fine Arts degree from Algoma University and Shingwauk Kinoomaage Gamig. Joanne is the founder of the Empty Glass for Water campaign to bring attention to the drinking water crisis in Indigenous communities across Canada.

She produced a film about the water crisis called “Glass Action”. Today she works as a research assistant at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and continues to support the water walks through live GPS spotting to make sure the water is safe.

Joanne was chosen as the winner of a writing award. Read the article by clicking HERE.

Joanne lives near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE
http://www.emptyglassforwater.ca/home.php

GOODREADS

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

FACEBOOK

WIKIPEDIA  

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

CHAPTERS

STRONGNATIONS.COM

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

#NibiIsWater #NetGalley #Indigenous #IndigenousAuthor #environmental #waterislife #waterisaright #Canadian #Canlit #ojibwe #Anishinaabemowin #nibiiswater #water #waterrights #idlenomore #nonfiction #indigenousnonfiction #indigenouschildrensbook #childrensbook

Indigenous Literary Studies Association


https://indigenousvoicesawards.org


Award recipients, finalists, and jurors after the 2019 Gala at the UBC Longhouse. Welcome page, and 2019 gala.
Photographs by Justine Crawford

LINKS THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST:

Two Anishinaabe Grandmothers, and a group of Anishinaabe Women and Men have taken action regarding the water issue by walking the perimeter of the Great Lakes. Along with a group of Anishinaabe Kwe and supports, they walked around Lake Superior in Spring 2003, around Lake Michigan in 2004, Lake Huron in 2005, Lake Ontario in 2006 and Lake Erie in 2007, Lake Michigan in 2008, and the St. Lawrence River in 2009.
http://motherearthwaterwalk.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=47&Itemid=53

Mother Earth Water Walkers

Shingwauk Anishinaabe Students’ Association (SASA)

The objectives of SASA are:

  • To provide cultural, social & academic support for all Anishinaabe students.
  • To increase Anishinaabe student participation in all aspects of the university.
  • To encourage communication with other Anishinaabe post-secondary organizations.
  • To assist Anishinaabe students with adjusting to the university environment.
  • To strengthen cultural awareness between Anishinaabe students and non-Anishinaabe students.

In May, 2010 history was made when a document was signed between SASA and the Algoma University Students’ Union. It is a commitment to promote Anishinaabe self-determination. “This monumental agreement stabilizes and recognition for the Anishinaabe Student Association, and will promote and encourage students to self-identify as Anishinaabe. It is meant to build a stronger Students’ Union and movement. This ‘commitment to solidarity’ (Gwii Nandogikendaanaan) will also lead to greater inclusion of Anishinaabe students as representatives on Union and University Subcommittees.” (see Media Release  http://www.algomau.ca/news/2010/05/03/279)

http://www.algomau.ca/current-students/anishinaabe-students-assoc

Algoma University Students’ Union (AUSU)

The Algoma University Students’ Union represents over 1,000 students on both the Sault Ste Marie and Brampton, Ontario campuses of Algoma University. AUSU is Local 82 of the Canadian Federation of Students.

www.ausu.ca

Canadian Federation of Students (CFS)

The Canadian Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students-Services were formed in 1981 to provide students with an effective and united voice, provincially and nationally. At the time, it was recognized that for students to be truly effective in representing their collective interests to the federal and provincial governments, it was vital to unite under one banner. Today, over one-half million students from more than 80 university and college students’ unions across Canada belong to the Federation.

www.cfs-fcee.ca

The Council of Canadians, Water

http://www.canadians.org/water/index.html
The Right to Water
http://www.canadians.org/water/issues/right/index.html
Safe Water for First Nations
http://www.canadians.org/water/issues/right/index.htm
Making Waves Blog, Analysis of Canadian water politics by the Council of Canadians’ national water campaigner.
http://rabble.ca/blog/17461

Katie Ungard, Women and Environment Youth Eco-Intern, Muskoka YWCA

Katie Ungard is the Women and Environment Youth Eco-Intern at the YWCA in Muskoka. As part of her work she will be speaking with women in the Muskoka district about water. Keep up to date with her work through this link…

http://ywcamuskoka.com

<a href="<iframe width="200" height="167" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/wPega7E8Lhg&quot; frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>
Water Walk

Eden Robinson’s TRICKSTER DRIFT releases October 2018 and it is a 5 Star phenomenal book. If you only read one book this year, it should be this one.

Title: TRICKSTER DRIFT

Author: EDEN ROBINSON

Genre: FICTION, LITERARY FICTION, CANADIAN FICTION

Length: 385 PAGES

Publisher: PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE CANADA

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7343-6 (Hardcover)

ISBN: 978-0-7352-7345-0 (Ebook)

Price: $32.00 CDN (Hardcover)

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Following the Scotiabank Giller Prize-shortlisted Son of a Trickster comes Trickster Drift, the second book in Eden Robinson’s captivating Trickster trilogy.

In an effort to keep all forms of magic at bay, Jared, 17, has quit drugs and drinking. But his troubles are not over: now he’s being stalked by David, his mom’s ex–a preppy, khaki-wearing psycho with a proclivity for rib-breaking. And his mother, Maggie, a living, breathing badass as well as a witch, can’t protect him like she used to because he’s moved away from Kitimat to Vancouver for school.

Even though he’s got a year of sobriety under his belt (no thanks to his enabling, ever-partying mom), Jared also struggles with the temptation of drinking. And he’s got to get his grades up, find a job that doesn’t involve weed cookies, and somehow live peacefully with his Aunt Mave, who has been estranged from the family ever since she tried to “rescue” him as a baby from his mother. An indigenous activist and writer, Mave smothers him with pet names and hugs, but she is blind to the real dangers that lurk around them–the spirits and supernatural activity that fill her apartment.

As the son of a Trickster, Jared is a magnet for magic, whether he hates it or not–he sees ghosts, he sees the monster moving underneath his Aunt Georgina’s skin, he sees the creature that comes out of his bedroom wall and creepily wants to suck his toes. He also still hears the Trickster in his head, and other voices too. When the David situation becomes a crisis, Jared can’t ignore his true nature any longer.

MY REVIEW:

I only discovered Canadian Indigenous author Eden Robinson’s writing just over one year ago, when I had the distinct pleasure of meeting her at the 2017 F.O.L.D. (Festival of Literary Diversity). Eden read from SON OF A TRICKSTER, answered audience questions with the patience of a Saint, allowed us fans to have our photographs taken with her and autographed copies of all of her books until I am sure her petite hands must have been more painful than Jared’s experience in the cave with the river otters … and she did all this with a beautific smile on her face.

One thing I can tell you about Eden Robinson is that she has the most distinctive and infectious laugh of anyone I have ever met. From that day forward, I have been a dedicated fan of her writing and I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of TRICKSTER DRIFT.

I would like to thank #NetGalley for providing me with an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of #TricksterDrift

Firstly, Eden is a hugely talented Indigenous author from British Columbia, Canada. Secondly, she has a talent for writing about realistic situations and infusing them with supernatural and Indigenous aspects.
Thirdly, this amazing woman has the ability to draw the reader so deeply into her story that several hours of reading go by in what seems like the blink of an eye.

One of my favorite quotes from this book comes from Chapter 36, in which Eden describes the tectonic plate upon which North America sits. The quote reads like this:

“The speed at which the North American plate crawls across the planet makes glaciers seem like rabbits on Red Bull.”

If you only have time to read a single book this year, I cannot stress highly enough that you need to chose Eden Robinson as the author to pick.

I rate TRICKSTER DRIFT as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all readers aged sixteen and up.

https://globalnews.ca/video/embed/3266774/

Photo Credit –
Chris Young of The Associated Press

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Want to meet Eden Robinson? If you live in Ontario, Canada anywhere near the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), you will have that chance coming up on:

Thursday, October 25, 2018 at 7:00 PM at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, located at 130 Navy Street, Oakville L6J 2Z4

Cost: $25

Description of the event:

“Multi-award winning Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson discusses her work in intimate conversation at the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts, including her latest novel Trickster Drift. Q&A and book signing to follow. Books will be available for purchase, courtesy of A Different Drummer Books.

To purchase tickets, call the Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts Box Office at 905-338-4161.

This event is part of the Lit On Tour programme.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

EDEN ROBINSON IS AN INDIGENOUS CANADIAN AUTHOR, who has been recognized and praised both nationally and internationally for her amazing works of fiction.

Eden hails from the Kitimat region in the beautiful province of British Columbia, Canada.

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

GOODREADS

CANADIAN ENCYCLOPAEDIA

AMAZON

CHAPTERS
https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/contributor/author/eden-robinson/

WRITER’S TRUST
https://writerstrust.com/Awards/Writers–Trust-Notable-Author-Award/Past-Winners/Eden-Robinson.aspx

PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE
https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/authors/25830/eden-robinson

Photos:

Author Eden Robinson, a member of the Haisla Nation, pauses on the forest trail to the Octopus Beds, just south of Kitamaat Village, BC, June 21, 2012. (Photography by Robin Rowland)

A DIFFERENT DRUMMER BOOKSTORE