In celebration of National Aboriginal Day, we wanted to showcase all the incredible local Indigenous authors and powerful stories published in the province.
But there are honestly so many well-written, valuable, and vital stories being shared from Indigenous authors, it is hard to pick just a few to highlight here. So to make our long list more manageable, we are focusing on recent and forthcoming releases.
From Oral to Written: A Celebration of Indigenous Literature in Canada, 1980–2010 by Tomson Highway
Talonbooks | July 2017
If as recently as 40 years ago there was no recognizable body of work by Canadian writers, as recently as 30 years ago there was no Native literature in this country. In the early 1980s, those Indigenous voices rose up to overcome the major obstacle First Nations peoples have as writers: they are not able to write in their own Native languages, but have to write in the languages of the colonizer, languages that simply cannot capture the complexity of Indigenous knowledge and history. From Oral to Written is a study of Native literature published in Canada between 1980 and 2010, a catalogue of amazing books written in multiple Aboriginal languages, in French, and in English.
This collection offers non-Native readers access to reconciliation and understanding, and at the same time engendering among Native readers pride in a stellar body of work. Now, Indigenous people have a literature that validates their existence, that gives them dignity, that tells them that they and their culture, their ideas, their languages, are important if not downright essential to the long-term survival of the planet. This belief is the driving force of National Aboriginal Day.
Sonny Assu: A Selective History
Heritage House | August 2017
If you love the art of these board books, but perhaps aren’t the target toddler audience, we’d highly recommend this stunning retrospective highlighting the playfulness, power, and subversive pop-art spirit of Northwest Coast Indigenous artist Sonny Assu. Spanning more than a decade of Assu’s career, this book highlights more than 120 full-colour works, including several never-before-exhibited pieces.
Through analytical essays and personal narratives, contributors Richard Van Camp, Marianne Nicolson, Candice Hopkins, and Ellyn Walker provide brilliant commentary on Assu’s practice, its meaning in the context of contemporary art, and its wider significance in the struggle for Indigenous cultural and political autonomy.
A Day with Yayeh by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Julie Flett
Tradewind Books | September 2017
Set in the Okanagan, a First Nations family goes on an outing to forage for herbs and mushrooms. Grandmother passes down her knowledge of plant life to her young grandchildren. Author Nicola I. Campbell is Interior Salish and Metis, and author of Shi-shi-etko (Aboriginal Children’s Book of the Year) and Shin-chi’s Canoe (TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Governor General’s Award Finalist for Illustration, USBBY Outstanding International Books), both illustrated by Kim LaFave. Julie Flett is of Cree-Métis heritage, and her books have also won many awards, including the BC Book Prize, and the Aboriginal Literature Award. We’re very excited to see these two women collaborating on a new children’s book.
Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation by Monique Gray Smith
Orca Book Publishers | September 2017
Orca Book Publishers have an incredible knack for approaching difficult, but important topics, in a way that helps young people understand the history without shouldering the blame. Acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith shares the lives of Survivors and allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action, educating readers while instilling a sense of hope and the impetus for change. Kirkus Reviews says, “Smith includes messages of resilience from community leaders and elders and devotes an entire chapter to interview[s] with young people as they express how important it is for them to contribute to the healing of their communities.”
Monique Gray Smith’s previous book, My Heart Fills With Happiness, won the 2017 Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize.
mitêwâcimowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling
Theytus Books | November 2016
I know we said new or forthcoming, but how could we not include the first-ever Indigenous speculative fiction collection?! Theytus Books is First Nations-owned and -operated, and a leading North American publisher of Indigenous voices. Featuring the talents of renowned authors Lee Maracle, Drew Hayden Taylor, Richard Van Camp and Eden Robinson (to name a few), mitêwâcimowina is what you get when you ask the finest Indigenous writers to dream of the future. A collection of strange and enchanting tales woven and crafted to keep the reader glued to the book until its final page.