12 Compelling Reads for National Aboriginal Day


Vancouver Public Library and V.I.A. have teamed up to help you discover new reads, hidden book gems and surprising literary finds. Check back every couple of weeks for the latest reading recommendations from the experts at Vancouver’s library.

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It’s National Aboriginal History Month – a time to honour the rich and diverse history of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada! In the lead-up to National Aboriginal Day, VPL is hosting a National Aboriginal Day Reading Circle, and is sharing this list of compelling reads by aboriginal authors curated by VPL aboriginal storyteller in residence Jules Koostachin:

Son of a TricksterSon of A Trickster by Eden Robinson

Sixteen-year-old Jared struggles to stay afloat in life and manage his fraught relationships with his parents. Compassionate and reliable, Jared’s grandmother tells him he’s the son of a trickster (and not human) – a mystery that he must unravel.

Halfbreed by Maria Campbell

This gripping biography recounts Maria Campbell’s formative years, tracing her journey from remote northern Saskatchewan to the streets of Vancouver. Issues of drug addiction, racism, dignity and family come together in this harrowing and inspirational read.

Kiss of the Fur QueenKiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

Taken from their family and forced into a Catholic residential school, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis must endure terrible abuse at the hands of priests. While the brothers struggle to survive, a cunning shape-shifter named the Fur Queen watches over them as they pursue their destiny to be artists.

The Truth About StoriesThe Truth About Stories by Thomas King

The troubled relationship between North America and its native peoples is revealed in this powerful and insightful read. Thomas King combines literature, history, religion, politics and more to construct a story that resists the false narratives about native culture that persist to this day.

BirdieBirdie by Tracey Lindberg

This novel follows the travels of Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman who embarks to Gibsons, B.C., from Northern Alberta to recover from past wounds. Tracey Lindberg brings together Cree lore and the experience of women everywhere with dark humour and poignancy.

Celia's SongCelia’s Song by Lee Maracle

This powerful read spans several generations of family history. A Nuu’Chahlnuth seer named Celia must contend with the abuse suffered by her cousin’s granddaughter and the brutality that her family has experienced at the hands of European settlers.

Up Ghost RiverUp Ghost River by Edmund Metatawabin

Recounting the experiences of former Fort Albany First Nation chief Edmund Metatawabin, this compelling memoir delves into his experiences of residential schools, alcoholism and trauma. The book then transitions into a story of activism and recovering from the wounds of the past.

Monkey BeachMonkey Beach by Eden Robinson

Monkey Beach is a combination of joy and tragedy, as the story follows a Kitamaat family struggling with the loss of one of its members. The protagonist, Lisa, reflects on the experiences she shared with her brother as she moves into an uncertain future.

I Am WomanI Am Woman by Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle expounds upon the conditions facing native women. Drawing on Maracle’s early experiences, the book touches on issues of colonialism, activism, motherhood and varying forms of systematic oppression as it speaks to native feminist struggles for equality.

For JoshuaFor Joshua by Richard Wagamese

Richard Wagamese intertwines the knowledge of his people with his personal pursuit for self-determination. The trials of Wagamese’s life – from estrangement to substance abuse – provide the framework for an engaging treatise on love and understanding.

The Right to Be ColdThe Right to Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier

This riveting exploration of Inuit culture follows Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s rise from a young girl growing up in an Arctic community to an esteemed environmental, cultural and human rights advocate. Her personal experiences and the larger issues of climate change come together in this engaging memoir.

Medicine WalkMedicine Walk by Richard Wagamese

Set in B.C.’s Interior, Medicine Walk follows Franklin Starlight, a teenager who visits his dying and estranged father. Franklin is then tasked with bringing his father to the mountains for a traditional Ojibway burial.

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