Literacy to Support Truth and Reconciliation
Arctic Stories, by Michael Kusugak (Ages 4-8)
This trio of stories about a 10-year-old girl named Agatha is based on the childhood experiences of beloved Inuit author Michael Kusugak. The book begins with a tale of Agatha ‘saving’ her community from a monstrous flying object.
Shi-shi-etko, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
Shi-shi-etko is a young girl who has four days before she leaves home for residential school. Her family has many teachings to share with her, about her culture and the land.
Shin-chi's Canoe, by Nicola Campbell (Ages 4-8)
This award-winning book tells the story of six-year-old Shin-chi as he heads to residential school for the first time with his older sister. It is the sequel to Campbell’s Shi-shi-etko.
When We Were Alone, by David Alexander Robertson (Ages 5-10)
When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things about her grandmother that make her curious. As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where everything was taken away.
A Stranger at Home: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
In this sequel to Fatty Legs, Margaret Pokiak is now 10 years old and can hardly wait to return home from residential school. But her homecoming is not what she hopes for. “Not my girl,” is what her mother says when she arrives.
No Time to Say Goodbye: Children's Stories of Kuper Island Residential School, by Sylvia Olsen (Ages 9-12)
This collection of fictional stories of five children sent to residential school is based on real life experiences recounted by members of the Tsartlip First Nation in B.C.
My Name is Seepeetza, by Shirley Sterling (Ages 9-12)
Written in the form of a diary, My Name is Seepeetza recounts the story of a young girl taken from home to attend the Kamloops Indian Residential School in the 1950s.
We feel good out here = Zhik gwaa'an, nakhwatthaiitat qwiinzii (The Land is Our Storybook) by Julie-Ann André and Mindy Willett (Ages 9-12)
We Feel Good Out Here offers a personal account of Julie-Ann André’s family story that includes a discussion about her residential school experience.
Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton (Ages 9-12)
Margaret, an 8-year-old Inuvialuit girl, wants to learn how to read so badly that she’s willing to leave home for residential school to make it happen. See our Fatty Legs Webinar Series & Resource Page.
Birdie by Tracey Lindberg
Birdie follows a Cree woman known as Birdie on a modern-day quest from her home in northern Alberta to Gibsons, British Columbia, where she hopes to meet her teenage crush: Jesse from The Beachcombers. Birdie’s troubled childhood has left her with inner demons, and her adventures take a dark turn, forcing her to find the strength to heal old wounds and build a new life.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Saul Indian Horse is an alcoholic Ojibway man who finds himself the reluctant resident of an alcohol treatment centre after his latest binge. To come to peace with himself, he must tell his story. Richard Wagamese takes readers on the often difficult journey through Saul’s life, from his painful forced separation from his family and land when he’s sent to a residential school to the brief salvation he finds in playing hockey.
The Inconvenient Indian by Thomas King
Neither a traditional nor all-encompassing history of First Nations people in North America, The Inconvenient Indian is a personal meditation on what it means to be “Indian.” King explores the relationship between Natives and non-Natives since the fifteenth century and examines the way that popular culture has shaped our notion of indigenous identity, while also reflecting on his own complicated relationship with activism.
Up Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin with Alexandra Shimo
When he was seven years old, Edmund Metatawabin was taken from his family and sent to one of the worst residential schools in Canada, St. Anne’s. The memories of his time there haunted him. He finally dealt with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through Indigenous healing approaches and has since dedicated his life to exposing what happened at St. Anne’s.
The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew
The Reason You Walk chronicles the year 2012, when Wab Kinew’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Kinew (who hosted Canada Reads in 2015) goes to Winnipeg to revisit his own childhood and travels to a reserve in northern Ontario, where he discovers more about his father’s past and his troubled upbringing in a residential school.
Price Paid by Bev Sellars
Price Paid is based on a popular presentation Sellars often told to treaty-makers, politicians, policymakers, and educators.The book begins with glimpses of foods, medicines, and cultural practices North America’s Indigenous peoples have contributed to the rest of the world. It documents the dark period of regulation by racist laws during the twentieth century, and then discusses new emergence in the twenty-first century into a re-establishment of Indigenous land and resource rights.
Wenjack by Joseph Boyden
An Ojibwe boy runs away from a North Ontario Indian School. Too late, he realizes just how far away home is. Along the way he’s followed by Manitous, spirits of the forest who comment on his plight, cajoling, taunting, and ultimately offering him a type of comfort on his difficult journey back to the place he was so brutally removed from.
The Education of Augie Merasty by David Carpenter & Joseph Auguste Merasty
The Education of Augie Merasty offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school. Now a retired fisherman and trapper, Joseph A. (Augie) Merasty was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children who were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.”
The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp
Set in Fort Simmer, a fictional community in the Northwest Territories based on Richard Van Camp’s hometown of Fort Smith, The Lesser Blessed follows a Dogrib teenager named Larry through his high school experience. In many ways, Larry is a typical 16-year-old boy who loves Iron Maiden and carries a flame for a local girl. But Larry is also haunted by his past: an abusive father, a fatal accident that claimed several of his cousins and the ill effects of sniffing gasoline. A new friendship with Johnny, a Métis newcomer to town, may help put him on the path to his future.
The Break by Katherena Vermette
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.
The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson, illustrated by Kelly Mellings
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.
Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back by Leanne Simpson
Many promote Reconciliation as a “new” way for Canada to relate to Indigenous Peoples. In Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence activist, editor, and educator Leanne Simpson asserts reconciliation must be grounded in political resurgence and must support the regeneration of Indigenous languages, oral cultures and traditions of governance.
In This Together: Fifteen Stories of Truth and Reconciliation Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail, editor
What is real reconciliation? This collection of essays from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors from across Canada welcomes readers into a timely, healing conversation — one we’ve longed for but, before now, have had a hard time approaching.
Secret Path by Gord Downie & Jeff Lemire
Secret Path is a 10-song album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School 50 years ago.
Looking for more?
The collection is maintained by the First Nations, Métis and Inuit staff in Student Learning Services, Edmonton Public Schools. The annotated bibliography represents the diversity of First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures across Canada and some areas of the United States. The titles are reviewed for cultural authenticity and validity. Alignment with the Alberta Programs of Study is apparent and identified in the tags provided in the reviews.