June 21 (the summer solstice) is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
We encourage our members to acknowledge the traditional territory upon which they reside, and to reflect on their relationship with Indigenous communities. CIBA’s active work toward reconciliation includes celebrating the depth and breadth of the work of Indigenous writers. It is our honour and responsibility to support Indigenous literature in this country, and we aim to do so through learning opportunities, partnerships, and community building. This work is more important now than ever before.
In celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day, we’ve curated a list of new or recently released books by Indigenous authors.
The Power of Style: How Fashion and Beauty Are Being Used to Reclaim Cultures
By Christian Allaire
Published by Annick Press
As a fashion-obsessed Ojibwe teen, Christian Allaire rarely saw anyone that looked like him in the magazines or movies he sought out for inspiration. Now the Fashion and Style Writer for Vogue, he is working to change that—because clothes are never just clothes. Men’s heels are a statement of pride in the face of LGTBQ+ discrimination, while ribbon shirts honor Indigenous ancestors and keep culture alive. Allaire takes the reader through boldly designed chapters to discuss additional topics like cosplay, make up, hijabs, and hair, probing the connections between fashion and history, culture, politics, and social justice.
Christian Allaire is an Ojibwe writer who grew up on the Nipissing First Nation reserve in Ontario, Canada. His writing has appeared in ELLE, FLARE, and VOGUE, among other outlets. He is based in New York City.
awâsis - kinky and dishevelled
By Louise B. Halfe — Sky Dancer
Published by Brick Books
There are no pronouns in Cree for gender; awâsis (which means illuminated child) reveals herself through shapeshifting, adopting different genders, exploring the English language with merriment, and sharing his journey of mishaps with humor, mystery, and spirituality. Opening with a joyful and intimate Foreword from Elder Maria Campbell, awâsis – kinky and dishevelled is a force of Indigenous resurgence, resistance, and soul-healing laughter.
Louise B. Halfe – Sky Dancer was raised on Saddle Lake Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. Her first book, Bear Bones & Feathers, received the Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award and was a finalist for the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award, the Pat Lowther Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award. Blue Marrow was a finalist for the 1998 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. Her fourth book, Burning in This Midnight Dream won the 2017 Saskatchewan Book Award and the Raymond Souster Award, among numerous others. Halfe was awarded the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize for her body of work in 2017, and was awarded the 2020 Kloppenburg Award for Literary Excellence. In 2021, she was appointed Canada's ninth Poet Laureate. She was granted a lifetime membership in the League of Canadian Poets, and currently works with Elders in the organization Opikinawasowin (“raising our children”). She lives near Saskatoon.
By Thomas King
Published by HarperCollins Canada
Jeremiah Camp, a.k.a. the Forecaster, can look into the heart of humanity and see the patterns that create opportunities and profits for the rich and powerful. Problem is, Camp has looked one too many times, has seen what he hadn’t expected to see and has come away from the abyss with no hope for himself or for the future.
So Jeremiah does what any intelligent, sensitive person would do. He runs away. Goes into hiding in a small town, at an old residential school on an even smaller Indian reserve, with no phone, no Internet, no television. With the windows shut, the door locked, the mailbox removed to discourage any connection with the world, he feels safe at last. Except nobody told the locals that they were to leave Jeremiah alone.
And then his past comes calling. Ash Locken, head of the Locken Group, the multinational consortium that Jeremiah has fled, arrives on his doorstep with a simple proposition. She wants our hero to formulate one more forecast, and she’s not about to take no for an answer. Before he left the Locken empire, Jeremiah had created a list of twelve names, every one a billionaire. The problem is, the people on the list are dying at an alarming and unnatural rate. And Ash Locken wants to know why.
A sly and satirical look at the fractures in modern existence, Sufferance is a bold and provocative novel about the social and political consequences of the inequality created by privilege and power—and what we might do about it.
Thomas King is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, scriptwriter and photographer. His critically acclaimed, bestselling books include Medicine River; Green Grass, Running Water; One Good Story, That One; Truth and Bright Water; A Short History of Indians in Canada; The Back of the Turtle (winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction); Sufferance; The Inconvenient Indian (winner of the RBC Taylor Prize); the DreadfulWater mystery series, including most recently Obsidian; and the poetry collection 77 Fragments of a Familiar Ruin (shortlisted for the Nelson Ball Prize). A Companion of the Order of Canada and the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award, Thomas King lives in Guelph, Ontario.
Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh / This Is How I Know
By Brittany Luby
Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Translated by Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere
Published by Groundwood Books
In this lyrical story-poem, written in Anishinaabemowin and English, a child and grandmother explore their surroundings, taking pleasure in the familiar sights that each new season brings.
We accompany them through warm summer days full of wildflowers, bees and blueberries, then fall, when bears feast before hibernation and forest mushrooms are ripe for harvest. Winter mornings begin in darkness as deer, mice and other animals search for food, while spring brings green shoots poking through melting snow and the chirping of peepers.
Brittany Luby and Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley have created a book inspired by childhood memories of time spent with Knowledge Keepers, observing and living in relationship with the natural world in the place they call home — the northern reaches of Anishinaabewaking, around the Great Lakes.
Brittany Luby, of Anishinaabe descent, was raised on Treaty #3 Lands in what is now known as northwestern Ontario. She is an assistant professor of history at the University of Guelph and an award-winning researcher who seeks to stimulate public discussion of Indigenous issues through her work. Her debut picture book, Encounter, illustrated by Michaela Goade, received wide acclaim. Brittany currently lives on Dish with One Spoon Territory.
Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley is an Ojibwe woodland artist and a member of Wasauksing First Nation. His work aims to reclaim and promote traditional Ojibwe stories and teachings in a contemporary woodland style. He works mainly in acrylics, digital illustration and screen-printing, and has had several solo art exhibitions across Turtle Island. This is his first picture book. Joshua spends his time living between Vancouver and Wasauksing First Nation.
Alvin Ted Corbiere and Alan Corbiere, father and son, are Anishinaabe from M’Chigeeng First Nation. Alvin’s first language is Anishinaabemowin, aka Ojibwe, and Alan is learning it as a second language. They collaborate to produce curricular materials in Anishinaabemowin for learners of all ages. Alan Corbiere is an assistant professor of Indigenous history at York University in Toronto.
Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity
By Darrel J. McLeod
Published by Douglas & McIntyre
Peyakow, the sequel to Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (2018 Governor General’s Award for non-fiction) by Darrel J. McLeod, recounts a journey of steely perseverance and enduring love in the relentless pursuit of happiness and a meaningful life.
Time and again McLeod is devastated by the defeat, self-destruction and even death of those closest to him and constantly fears that he too will be dragged down. And yet, each new tragedy propels McLeod to greater heights as he shows the world he can overcome his traumatic past to accomplish as much or more than the white classmates who used to bully and torment him as a poor Cree child from Northern Alberta.
McLeod’s compelling storytelling builds on literary devices and innovations integral to Mamaskatch. He once again draws on inherited memory to set the stage for his book, telling the story of the negotiation of an historic treaty which changed his people’s way of life forever. With a sprinkling of magical realism reminiscent of Gabriel García Márquez, Peyakow—a Cree word loosely translated as “he or she travels alone”—is a love song of gratitude to Mother Earth and an ode to the Indigenous peoples of Canada.
Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from treaty eight territory in Northern Alberta. Before pursuing writing in his retirement McLeod was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French Literature and Education from UBC. Peyakow is McLeod’s second memoir following the events in Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age (Douglas & McIntyre), which won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction and was nominated for the RBC Taylor Prize, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness, and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award. Darrel lives, writes, sings and plays jazz guitar in Sooke, B.C. and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Falls: A Residential School Story
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk
Published by Portage and Main Press
Inspired by true events, this story of strength, family, and culture shares the awe-inspiring resilience of Elder Betty Ross.
Abandoned as a young child, Betsy is adopted into a loving family. A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changes. Betsy is taken away to a residential school. There she is forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalls the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls—words that give her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive.
is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation. We wish to acknowledge, with the utmost gratitude, Betty’s generosity in sharing her story. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.
This 10th-anniversary edition brings David A. Robertson’s national bestseller to life in full colour, with a foreword by Senator Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a touching afterword from Elder Betty Ross herself.
(he/him/his) is an award-winning writer and recent recipient of the Writers' Union of Canada's Freedom to Read Award. His books include When We Were Alone (winner Governor General’s Literary Award), Will I See? (winner Manuela Dias Book Design and Illustration Award), Betty: The Helen Betty Osborne Story (listed In The Margins), and the YA trilogy The Reckoner (winner Michael Van Rooy Award for Genre Fiction, McNally Robinson Best Book for Young People). His most recent works include the graphic novel Breakdown (Top 10 Fiction Title, In the Margins), middle grade novel The Barren Grounds, and his memoir Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory. A sought-after speaker and educator, David is a member of Norway House Cree Nation. He lives in Winnipeg.
(he/him/his) is author/illustrator of the sci-fi/fantasy comic, The Chronicles of Era and has illustrated select titles in the Tales From Big Spirit series, the graphic novel series The Reckoner Rises, A Girl Called Echo, and 7 Generations, select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold, Fire Starters (an AIYLA Honour Book), and Eisner-award nominee, A Blanket of Butterflies. In 2016, he was the recipient of the C4 Central Canada Comic Con Storyteller Award.
Since 1998, Donovan Yaciuk (he/him/his) has done colouring work on books published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse comics, and HighWater Press including A Girl Called Echo, The Reckoner Rises series and select stories in This Place: 150 Years Retold. Donovan holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and began his career as a part of the legendary, now-defunct Digital Chameleon colouring studio. He lives in Winnipeg, MB Canada, with his wife and two daughters.
Short History of the Blockade: Giant Beavers, Diplomacy, and Regeneration in
By Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Introduction by Jordan Abel
Published by University of Alberta Press
In A Short History of the Blockade, award-winning writer Leanne Betasamosake Simpson uses Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg stories, storytelling aesthetics, and practices to explore the generative nature of Indigenous blockades through our relative, the beaver—or in Nishnaabemowin, Amik. Moving through genres, shifting through time, amikwag stories become a lens for the life-giving possibilities of dams and the world-building possibilities of blockades, deepening our understanding of Indigenous resistance as both a negation and an affirmation. Widely recognized as one of the most compelling Indigenous voices of her generation, Simpson’s work breaks open the intersections between politics, story, and song, bringing audiences into a rich and layered world of sound, light, and sovereign creativity. A Short History of the Blockade reveals how the practice of telling stories is also a culture of listening, “a thinking through together,” and ultimately, like the dam or the blockade, an affirmation of life.
Leanne Betasamosake Simpson is a Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg writer, scholar, and musician, and a member of Alderville First Nation in Ontario. She is the author of six previous books. Her newest novel is Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies and her latest album is Theory of Ice. Simpson is on the faculty at the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning.
Jordan Abel is a
Nisga'a writer who lives and works in Treaty 6 territory (Edmonton).