This blog is the place where I post reviews of the books I have read. I review audiobooks, regular books and eBooks for authors and publishers as well as any other book or audiobook that catches my eye.
In the style of the wildly popular Mi’kmaw Animals baby board book, shortlisted for the Lillian Shepherd Memorial Award for Excellence in Illustration, comes Mi’kmaw Daily Drum.
From celebrated artist Alan Syliboy, this vital book for the youngest readers showcases seven of Syliboy’s popular Daily Drum artworks, each paired with a different day of the week.
From Spirit Woman to Caribou to Round Dance, Mi’kmaw culture and teachings are offered up to newborns and toddlers in a vibrant and accessible book.
This is a 7 inch square board book aimed at babies and toddlers. However, with the exquisite artwork and the phonetic spelling of the Mi’Kmaw words, this is a fabulous introduction to Indigenous culture for people of any age.
ALAN SYLIBOY is a well-known Mi’Kmaw artist and musician as well as being an author. His artwork is utterly beautiful and his love for his heritage and culture shines through everything he creates.
It is that love and beauty that will draw both parents and their children to this stunning work of art.
Including this book in home libraries is a terrific way to start children along the path to reconciliation at a very young age.
I rate this book as 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦🇨🇦
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alan Syliboy is an established Mi’kmaq artist. His work is influenced by the indigenous Mi’kmaq rock drawing and quill weaving traditions.
Working in acrylic and mixed media, Alan creates vibrantly coloured images exploring the themes of family, searching, spirituality, struggle, and strength.
The use of layering symbols and mark making creates depth and texture in Alan’s work.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
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.
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 past – including 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.
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.
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. . . ….. https://player.vimeo.com/video/348888772 ………
**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. ***************************
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. .
“… 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.” . “In the spring you smell last fall’s death and this year’s growth as the elder lichen shows the young how to grow.” . “We are product of the immense torque that propels this universe. We are not individuals but a great accumulation of all that lived before.” . . . ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author, Throat singer, artist. Tanya Tagaq is multi-talented.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
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. . .
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.
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).
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).
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).
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HOMELESSNESS AND/OR TO DOWNLOAD INFORMATION AS WELL AS LESSON PLANS, GO TO THE HOMELESS HUB:
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). . .
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.
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:
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)
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.
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.
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…