For Joshua by Richard Wagamese

 Celebrated Ojibway author Richard Wagamese shares the traditions and teachings of his people, entwining them with an account of his own life-long struggle for self-knowledge and self-respect.

Richard Wagamese stares the modern world in the eye and takes careful note of its snares and perils. He sees people coveting without knowing why, people looking for roots without understanding what might constitute rootedness, people looking for acceptance without offering reciprocal respect, and people longing for love without knowing how to offer it. And underneath all lurks the seductive oblivion of substance abuse. These are the pitfalls of his own life, dangers he hopes his estranged son, Joshua, will be able to navigate with the guidance afforded by this heartfelt memoir.

Richard Wagamese has no easy answers. His road to self-knowledge has been long and treacherous — and it is in part this series of trials that has furnished him if not with a complete set of answers then at least a profound understanding of the questions. Again and again Wagamese brings universal problems into astonishingly sharp focus by sharing the special wisdom of Canada’s First Nations, while reminding us that we are not so different after all.

 

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Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David Robertson

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation.

A school assignment to interview a residential-school survivor leads Daniel to Betsy, his friend’s grandmother, who tells him her story. Abandoned as a young child, Betsy was soon adopted into a loving family.

A few short years later, at the age of 8, everything changed. Betsy was taken away to a residential school. There she was forced to endure abuse and indignity, but Betsy recalled the words her father spoke to her at Sugar Falls — words that gave her the resilience, strength, and determination to survive.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Sugar Falls goes to support the bursary program for The Helen Betty Osborne Memorial Foundation.

 

 

 

After the Last River

We are delighted to welcome filmmaker Victoria Lean to the Library today to talk about her powerful documentary After the Last River.

Victoria will be leading two sessions… during each of Per 6 and 7, before and after the lunchhour.  Please refer to the attached schedule of classes.

TEACHERS: The library will be full. Please quickly take attendance and bring your classes down. NO BAGS IN THE LIBRARY. Please remain with your class in the Library to ensure excellent behaviour.

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.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

A powerful intergenerational family saga, The Break showcases Vermette’s abundant writing talent and positions her as an exciting new voice in Canadian literature.

 

The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew

Today’s spotlight title is The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew.

When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster, musician and politician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who’d raised him.
The Reason You Walk spans the year 2012, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future.
Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond.
By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.

Read the review at The Globe and Mail.

Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson

This is an incredibly sad, dark – nay, bleak – tragi-comedy. Through so much of it you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. The writing is sharp, fast paced, and the author has a real knack for hitting home, punching you in the gut – especially with her characters and her dialogue. Eden Robinson spares nothing and no-one in this book. Her characters – and the situations they find themselves in – are raw and gritty, consumed with, and by, their situation in life.

The real artistry in this book is the way in which it simultaneously operates on so many different levels.

On the surface it is foul and profane, reinforcing all of the negative stereotypes anyone has about indigenous people… facts which will not endear it to many. Indeed, I can hear the calls for book banning even after only just the first few pages!

Dig deeper though and it’s all about the contemporary political economy: the massive job losses that hit the Kitimat region during the last economic recession (which of course become the reason for many to jump on the bandwagon that was the push for the Kitimat terminus to the, thankfully now dead in the water, Northern Gateway pipeline); the historic legacies of abuse and attempts to destroy Indigenous culture (i.e. outlawing the Potlatch); and the movement – literally, as in Idle No More, which sprung from the fight over the Northern Gateway project – to reclaim sovereignty and fight against the neo-colonial ‘tendencies’ of the modern world.

Shortlisted for the Giller Prize.

The Outside Circle by Patti Laboucane Benson

Nominated for, and/or the winner of, multiple awards… 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.

Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, 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.

Read the review at Quill and Quire.