Happy National Aboriginal Day, Savvy Readers!
I don’t mean to get political, but it’s so good to see the strides that Canada and its government have made recently in reaching out to our First Nations communities. It’s only fair that we do our part too by talking about some of our favourite Aboriginal authors and important books about First Nations issues! It’s so important that these incredibly talented and insightful voices are heard, so let’s begin!
But, before we do, keep in mind that you’ll earn our Indigenous Reads 50 Book Pledge Badge when you read any of the books below!!
Thomas King, The Back of the Turtle
Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter and photographer of Cherokee and Greek descent. A member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of an award from the National Aboriginal Foundation, Thomas King is a professor of English at the University of Guelph, Ontario. The Back of the Turtle tells the fantastical story of Gabriel Quinn who, having set an ecological disaster in motion, rescues a girl from the ocean who has seemingly fallen from the sky.
Tracey Lindberg, Birdie
Tracey Lindberg is a citizen of As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree and hails from the Kelly Lake Cree Nation community. She is an award-winning writer for her academic work and teaches Indigenous studies and Indigenous laws at two universities in Canada. Birdie is her highly acclaimed first novel, about the formidable Bernice Meetoos who draws from the deepest wells of her strength to recover from personal tragedy.
Emmanuelle Walter, Stolen Sisters
Stolen Sisters by Emmanuelle Walter is an important book that reflects the Canadian crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women. Journalist Emmanuelle Walter spent two years documenting and creating this account of two young women, Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander, who have been missing since 2008. The story of these girls sheds light on the shocking statistics behind a much larger national tragedy that demands all of our attention.
Katherena Vermette, The Break
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from the heart of the Métis nation, Winnipeg, Manitoba. She has been a proud member of the Indigenous Writers Collective since 2004, and earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of British Columbia in 2014. Her first book, North End Love Songs won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. Her first novel, The Break, is a powerful intergenerational saga that was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction and the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize.
Eden Robinson, Monkey Beach
Eden Robinson is one of Canada’s first female aboriginal writers to gain international attention. She is known for describing Native traditions and modern realities with beautiful, honest language and biting black humour. One of her greatest Literary influences is Stephen King. Her first novel, Monkey Beach, was nominated for Canada’s two largest literary prizes: the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. Her most recent novel is Son of a Trickster.
Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse
Richard Wagamese is one of Canada’s foremost Native authors and storytellers. Working as a professional writer since 1979, he’s been a newspaper columnist and reporter, radio and television broadcaster and producer, documentary producer and the author of thirteen different titles from major Canadian publishers. His novel, Indian Horse, was the Peoples’ Choice winner in the 2012 Canada Reads competition. Richard Wagamese sadly passed away last March.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This Accident of Being Lost
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a renowned Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar, writer and artist, who has been widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation. Her work breaks open the intersections between politics, story and song—bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity. This Accident of Being Lost is her knife-sharp new collection of stories and songs.
Wab Kinew, The Reason You Walk
Wab Kinew, was named by Postmedia News as one of “9 Aboriginal movers and shakers you should know.” He is the Associate Vice-President for Indigenous Relations at The University of Winnipeg, a correspondent with Al-Jazeera America and an Honourary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. He was also the 2015 host of CBC’s Canada Reads literary competition. His bestselling memoir The Reason You Walk chronicles the time he spent trying to reconnect with the Aboriginal man who raised him.
Patti Laboucane Benson, The Outside Circle
Patti Laboucane-Benson is a Métis woman and the Director of Research, Training, and Communication at Native Counselling Services of Alberta. She has a Ph.D. in Human Ecology, focusing on Aboriginal Family Resilience. Her doctoral research explored how providing historic trauma healing programs for Aboriginal offenders builds resilience in Aboriginal families and communities. Her award-winning graphic novel, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.
Lee Maracle, Celia’s Song
Lee Maracle, a member of the Stó:lō nation, is one of Canada’s most prolific and celebrated authors. In addition to receiving the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, she is an instructor in Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto and the recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work encouraging writing among Indigenous youth. An author and teacher, Maracle’s diverse body of work includes poetry, short stories, collaborative anthologies, and novels, including the best-selling novel Celia’s Song, which was longlisted for Canada Reads.
David Alexander Robertson, Sugar Falls
David Alexander Robertson, of Irish, Scottish, English, and Cree heritage, is a writer who has long been an advocate for educating youth on indigenous history and contemporary issues. He has been recognized for his work in the field of indigenous education. His acclaimed graphic novels, including Sugar Falls, the 7 Generations series, Tales from Big Spirit series and Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story, deal with indigenous issues and themes.
Bev Sellers, They Called Me Number One
Chief Bev Sellars of the Xat’sull First Nation at Soda Creek, British Columbia is the author of the bestselling memoir, They Called Me Number One, which won the 2014 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness. Her memoir deals with her time as a student at the St. Joseph’s Residential School in Williams Lake, British Columbia. Bev Sellars has also served as an advisor to the British Columbia Treaty Commission.
Jeanette Armstrong, Slash
Jeanette Armstrong is best known for her involvement with the En’owkin Centre and writing. Her work focuses on creativity, education, ecology, and Indigenous rights. Her 1985 novel, Slash, is considered the first novel by a First Nations woman in Canada. It is still in print today.
What do you think, Savvy Readers? Who are your favourite Aboriginal writers? Do you have any books by aboriginal authors on your #TBR list right now? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @SavvyReader