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Stories of Inspiration

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A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Oji-Cree;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

A compelling, harrowing, but ultimately uplifting story of resilience and self-discovery.

A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby’s extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. From her early, often harrowing memories of life and abuse in a remote Ojibwa community riven by poverty and alcoholism, Chacaby’s story is one of enduring and ultimately overcoming the social, economic, and health legacies of colonialism.

As a child, Chacaby learned spiritual and cultural traditions from her Cree grandmother and trapping, hunting, and bush survival skills from her Ojibwa stepfather. She also suffered physical and sexual abuse by different adults, and in her teen years became alcoholic herself. At twenty, Chacaby moved to Thunder Bay with her children to escape an abusive marriage. Abuse, compounded by racism, continued, but Chacaby found supports to help herself and others. Over the following decades, she achieved sobriety; trained and worked as an alcoholism counsellor; raised her children and fostered many others; learned to live with visual impairment; and came out as a lesbian. In 2013, Chacaby led the first gay pride parade in Thunder Bay.

Ma-Nee Chacaby has emerged from hardship grounded in faith, compassion, humour, and resilience. Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people.

Reviews
“From groundbreaking and controversial AIDS awareness programs in the 1990s to the work she continues to do today, both with her own family and her extended reserve family, her life and this memoir ultimately serve as handbook of hope.”— Lara Rae, Winnipeg Free Press

"A Two-Spirit Journey is a raw and emotional story that doesn’t just show readers the author’s scars. Chacaby bares all in an honest telling of her life that includes flaws, like her struggles with substance abuse and a sometimes rocky path to sobriety. Despite the turmoil, the autobiography does have its uplifting moments and characters. Heartwarming stories of childhood friendships, and most importantly a powerful relationship between the author and her grandmother, weave feelings of optimism and hope into a life that is oftentimes surrounded by darkness.”— Scott Paradis, tbnewswatch.com

“An extraordinary account of an extraordinary life and very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Biography, LGBT, and Native American Studies collections.”— Midwest Book Review

“Activist, survivor, mother, counsellor, Ma-Nee Chacaby recounts her sometimes harrowing life with a calm and steady voice, infused with resilience and compassion. Effectively designed and edited to appeal to both the general public and those engaged in Indigenous studies, A Two-Spirit Journey presents an important story, powerfully told.”— Nik Burton, Rick Walker, and Carolyn Wood, Judges, 2017 Manitoba Book Awards

“The story that Chacaby and Plummer recount is truly an extraordinary one, but it is also one that will resonate with many people whose stories have not been often told. The perspective of a lesbian Ojibwa-Cree elder is invaluable for LGBT Native youth and will be an enriching experience for many others, particularly those who have experienced abuse, disability, poverty, or the effects of colonization.”— Kai Pyle, Studies in American Indian Literatures

Educator Information
This book would be useful for courses in women's studies, social studies, and gender studies.  Recommended for students in grade 12 or at a college/university level.

Caution: discussion of physical and sexual abuse.

Additional Information
256 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

 

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$24.95

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Carey Price: How a First Nations Kid Became a Superstar Goaltender
Authors:
Catherine Rondina
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12;

Twenty years ago, Carey Price was flying 319 kilometres across British Columbia in his father's plane so he could play on the nearest organized hockey team. Today, he is the highest-paid goalie in the NHL. But he's never forgotten where he started.

The son of an NHL draftee and the chief of the Ulkatcho First Nation, Carey got his start on skates as a toddler, first on a frozen creek and then on his father's homemade rink. The natural athlete went on to become the top amateur player in Canada in 2002, getting drafted fifth overall by the Montreal Canadiens three years later. Now one of the most recognizable figures in hockey, Carey credits his success to his community of Anahim Lake, where hard work and commitment often face off against remoteness and cost. Throughout his incredible career, he's taken every opportunity possible to encourage all young people, especially those who share his Indigenous background, to follow their dreams.

Reviews
"The book is aimed at middle-grade readers, ages 12+, and has a decidedly different approach to telling his remarkable story. For one, author Catherine Rondina chose to really spotlight Price's Indigenous background ... The pocketbook from Lorimer's RecordBooks series crams a lot into its 150 pages, from Price's early days in the remote Anahim Lake, B.C., to leading Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi."— Greg Oliver, Society for International Hockey Research, June 2018

"This slim, pocket-size biography manages to convey an awful lot of information through engaging, brief chapters and breezy vocabulary. Readers will come away with an overview of acclaimed goalie Carey Price's hockey career to date."— Kathleen McBroom, Booklist, August 2018

"An inspiring story, especially for hockey fans and not just for reluctant teen readers."— Kirkus Reviews, May 2018

"A short and captivating peek into a remarkable athlete's life for middle schoolers."— School Library Journal, October 2018

Educator Information
Hi-Lo Book.
Interest age: From 12 To 18
Fry Reading Level [grade]: 3.5
Lexile Reading Level: 890L

Additional Information
152 pages | 4.25" x 7.00"

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Clouds
Artists:
Michael Joyal
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

In this brave first book, Lucy Haché transports the reader with intimate revelations on self-awareness and identity by exploring both her personal and ancestral relationship to the sea, forest and sky. Through skilled restraint and beautifully astute description, Haché's prose reaches past her own contemplation to connect us all. Masterfully illustrated by artist Michael Joyal, his stunning and meteorologically accurate cloud drawings contribute to the overall sensory and transcendent experience.

Reviews
“Lucy Haché pulls universal truths from her very personal observations that will resonate long after the reader has put aside this jewel of a book. I loved each word, and every one of Michael Joyal’s perfect illustrations.” —Charles de Lint, author of Moonheart and The Onion Girl

Series Information
This book is part of the Overhead Series.

Additional Information
62 pages | 5.50" x 8.50" | 20 illustrations | Fiction

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Daughters Are Forever
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Salish;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

This powerful novel about a woman's self-discovery reinforces Lee Maracle's stature as one of the most important First Nations writers in North America. The novel incorporates an innovative structure - one based on Salish Nation storytelling - to depict the transformation of Marilyn, a First Nations woman who is alienated from her culture, her family, and herself. By discovering her own culture's ways and listening to the natural world, Marilyn begins to heal her deep-rooted hurt and gradually becomes reconciled with her estranged daughters. Here is a moving work about First Nations people in the modern world, and the importance of courage, truth, and reconciliation.

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206 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

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Doug Knockwood, Mi'kmaw Elder: Stories, Memories, Reflections
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Mi'kmaq;
Grade Levels: 10; 11; 12; University/College;

Freeman Douglas Knockwood is a highly respected Elder in Mi’kmaw Territory and one of Canada’s premier addictions recovery counsellors. The story of his life is one of unimaginable colonial trauma, recovery and hope.

At age 6, Knockwood was placed in the Shubenacadie Residential School, where he remained for a year and a half. Like hundreds of other Mi’kmaw and Maliseet children, he suffered horrible abuse. By the time he reached his twenties, he was an alcoholic. He contracted tuberculosis in the 1940s, had one lung and several ribs removed.

Having hit rock bottom, Knockwood, gained sobriety in his thirties through Alcoholics Anonymous. He went on to become a much sought after drug and alcohol rehabilitation counsellor in Canada. Many of Doug’s initiatives have been implemented across Canada and used by thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Looking back now, says Doug, “I realize I wasn’t only helping them. They were helping me to gather strength in my presentations, in feeding them the knowledge I received, the same as it was fed to me. That helped me to gain confidence in myself; doing all these things that I didn’t know I could yet do”.

This book is an in-depth look at Doug Knockwood’s life that also casts a wide and critical glance at the forces that worked to undermine his existence and the indomitable spirit of a man who recovered from, yet still struggles to overcome, those forces.

Educator Information
The 2018-2019 Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools list recommends this resource for Grades 10-12 for these subjects: English Language Arts, Social Justice, Social Studies.

Additional Information
128 pages | 6.00" x 9.00" | Written by Doug Knockwood and Friends

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$21.00

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Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

"Life sometimes is hard. There are challenges. There are difficulties. There is pain. As a younger man I sought to avoid them and only ever caused myself more of the same. These days I choose to face life head on--and I have become a comet. I arc across the sky of my life and the harder times are the friction that lets the worn and tired bits drop away. It's a good way to travel; eventually, I will wear away all resistance until all there is left of me is light. I can live towards that end." - Richard Wagamese, Embers

In this carefully curated selection of everyday reflections, Richard Wagamese finds lessons in both the mundane and sublime as he muses on the universe, drawing inspiration from working in the bush--sawing and cutting and stacking wood for winter as well as the smudge ceremony to bring him closer to the Creator. Embers is perhaps Richard Wagamese's most personal volume to date. Honest, evocative and articulate, he explores the various manifestations of grief, joy, recovery, beauty, gratitude, physicality and spirituality--concepts many find hard to express. But for Wagamese, spirituality is multifaceted. Within these pages, readers will find hard-won and concrete wisdom on how to feel the joy in the everyday things. Wagamese does not seek to be a teacher or guru, but these observations made along his own journey to become, as he says, "a spiritual bad-ass," make inspiring reading.

Additional Information
140 pages | 6.00" x 8.00"

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$18.95

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Fatty Legs: A True Story
Artists:
Liz Amini-Holmes
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9;

The moving memoir of an Inuit girl who emerges from a residential school with her spirit intact. 

Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. 

At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls -- all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. 

In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity. 

Complemented by archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's collection and striking artwork from Liz Amini-Holmes, this inspiring first-person account of a plucky girl's determination to confront her tormentor will linger with young readers.

Awards

  • First Nation Communities Read recipient, 2011-2012

Reviews
"I highly recommend this book for the discussion it would stir with students...Makes the harrowing residential school stories accessible to youth." — Resource Links, December 2010

"Presents a unique and enlightening glimpse into the residential school experience and, most importantly, one little girl's triumph over her oppressors." — Quill & Quire, November 2010

Educator Information
Fountas and Pinnell T

Themes: biography; Inuit; Indigenous peoples; Indigenous; arctic; school; self-esteem; abuse; community; prejudice; Canadian content; courage/bravery; right vs. wrong; role reversal; secrets; society; history; bullying; memoir; character education.

Additional Information
112 pages | 6.25" x 9.00" | full-color illustrations, archival photographs, map

Authenticity Note
This illustrator of this book is not Indigenous; therefore, her artwork is not considered to be Authentic Indigenous Artwork according to Strong Nations Authenticity Guidelines. The archival photos from Margaret Pokiak-Fenton's personal collection, however, are considered to be authentic, which is why the book is labelled as containing Authentic Indigenous Artwork. It is up to readers to determine whether or not the images in this work are authentic for their purposes.

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$12.95

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Fire Song
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: 9; 10; 11; 12;

How can Shane reconcile his feelings for David with his desire for a better life?

Shane is still reeling from the suicide of his kid sister, Destiny. How could he have missed the fact that she was so sad? He tries to share his grief with his girlfriend, Tara, but she’s too concerned with her own needs to offer him much comfort. What he really wants is to be able to turn to the one person on the rez whom he loves—his friend, David.

Things go from bad to worse as Shane’s dream of going to university is shattered and his grieving mother withdraws from the world. Worst of all, he and David have to hide their relationship from everyone. Shane feels that his only chance of a better life is moving to Toronto, but David refuses to join him. When yet another tragedy strikes, the two boys have to make difficult choices about their future together.

With deep insight into the life of Indigenous people on the reserve, this book masterfully portrays how a community looks to the past for guidance and comfort while fearing a future of poverty and shame. Shane’s rocky road to finding himself takes many twists and turns, but ultimately ends with him on a path that doesn’t always offer easy answers, but one that leaves the reader optimistic about his fate.

Reviews
“Complex, vulnerable emotion is embedded within the specificity of the writing in this dramatic prose debut. Jones avoids clichés of reservation life, humanizing the stories of how his people reconcile the trauma of suicide, missing family members, same-sex relationships, and the isolation of a community left to fend for itself. A touching story that has been a long time coming for the Indigenous community.”
Kirkus Reviews

“This complex, well-written debut will resonate with young people . . . A great coming-out novel with Native American protagonists; recommended for all teen collections.”
Jill Baetiong, School Library Journal

“A powerful, challenging book that is full of deeply meaningful turns as it boldly encourages living life to the best of one’s abilities.”
Foreword Reviews

"A stunning debut. If you loved the movie Fire Song, get ready to swoon over this movie-to-novel adaptation. The tension, beauty, desperation, hunger for someone, hunger for yourself, a family at the crossroads and a highway that's calling--it's all here. Completely riveting. Completely compelling. Adam Garnet Jones, I would follow you and your characters anywhere. Bravo! A literary and unforgettable masterpiece."
Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

Educator Information
Recommended for Ages 14+ / Grades 9+

Novel Themes: LGBTQ, family relationships, suicide, friendships, acceptance, sexuality, secrets, stereotyping, siblings, diversity, teens, multigenerational, Indigenous.

The Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools list recommends this resource for Grades 10-12 for English Language Arts and Physical and Health Education.

Additional Information
232 pages | 5.50" x 8.25"

A hardcover copy of this book is also available on the Strong Nations website.

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$12.95

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From Bear Rock Mountain: The Life and Times of a Dene Residential School Survivor
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Dene;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

In this poetic, poignant memoir, Dene artist and social activist Antoine Mountain paints an unforgettable picture of his journey from residential school to art school—and his path to healing.

In 1949, Antoine Mountain was born on the land near Radelie Koe, Fort Good Hope, Northwest Territories. At the tender age of seven, he was stolen away from his home and sent to a residential school—run by the Roman Catholic Church in collusion with the Government of Canada—three hundred kilometres away. Over the next twelve years, the three residential schools Mountain was forced to attend systematically worked to erase his language and culture, the very roots of his identity.

While reconnecting to that which had been taken from him, he had a disturbing and painful revelation of the bitter depths of colonialism and its legacy of cultural genocide. Canada has its own holocaust, Mountain argues.

As a celebrated artist and social activist today, Mountain shares this moving, personal story of healing and the reclamation of his Dene identity.

Additional Information
272 pages | 5.50" x 8.50"

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$30.00

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From Lishamie
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Dene;
Grade Levels: 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

With astonishing detail, Albert Canadien fondly recounts his boyhood years in Lishamie, a traditional Dene camp north of the Mackenzie River, and reflects on the devastating and long-lasting impact residential schooling had on him, his family and his people. Separated at a young age from his parents and forced to attend a strict Catholic boarding school, the author, and many like him, was robbed of his language, community and traditional way of living. From Lishamie is a candid memoir of loss and of the journey back.

Reviews
"From Lishamie focuses on the loss of language, culture, exposure to the land, and brings a stark contrast of life pre- and post-residential schools. This rich and lasting book portrays the fullness of life on the land, the seasons, travelling with the food sources, and community." - Joyce Atcheson

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284 pages | 5.50" x 8.49"

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$22.95

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From the Ashes: My Story of Being Metis, Homeless, and Finding My Way
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.

If I can just make it to the next minute... then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.

From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.

Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around.

In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education.

An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds.

Reviews
From the Ashes hits you like a punch in the gut. It’s an unflinching, heartrending and beautifully written story of survival against seemingly impossible odds. But it’s also a book that should make you furious. Thistle paints a vivid portrait of a country seemingly incapable of doing right by Indigenous youth or by those struggling with homelessness, addiction and intergenerational trauma. That he survived to tell this story is truly a miracle. Still, one question haunts me after finishing this powerful and devastating book: How do we ensure that the next generation isn’t forced to navigate a broken system that takes their lives for granted and fails them at every turn? My greatest hope, then, is that From the Ashes will be the wakeup call Canada needs.” — IAN MOSBY, historian and author of Food Will Win the War

Educator Information
Caution: Deals with mature subject matter.

Additional Information
368 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"


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$24.99

Coming Soon
Girl of the Southern Sea
Authors:
Michelle Kadarusman
Format: Hardcover
Grade Levels: 4; 5; 6; 7;

For girls all over the world, fighting for the futures they deserve...

A girl from the slums of Jakarta dreams of an education and the chance at a better life. But first she must battle the dangers of local superstition and thwart her father's plan to marry her off to an older man.

From the time she was a little girl, Nia has dreamed up adventures about the Javanese mythical princess, Dewi Kadita. Now fourteen, Nia would love nothing more than to continue her education and become a writer. But high school costs too much. Her father sells banana fritters at the train station, but too much of his earnings go toward his drinking habit. Too often Nia is left alone to take over the food cart as well as care for her brother and their home in the Jakarta slums.

But Nia is determined to find a way to earn her school fees. After she survives a minibus accident unharmed and the locals say she is blessed with 'good luck magic,' Nia exploits the notion for all its worth by charging double for her fried bananas. Selling superstitions can be dangerous, and when the tide turns it becomes clear that Nia’s future is being mapped without her consent.

If Nia is to write a new story for herself, she must overcome more obstacles than she could ever have conceived of for her mythical princess, and summon courage she isn't sure she has.

Educator Information
Recommended Ages: 9-13

Includes a glossary of Indonesian terms.

An Author's Note at the end of the novel provides more context about the story in relation to the author's own life experiences, as well more information on global issues that affect girls all over the world like poverty, forced marriages, lack of education and healthcare.

Themes: Homelessness & Poverty; Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance; Drugs, Alcohol, Substance Abuse; People & Places (Asia, Indonesia); Legends, Myths, Fables (Asian).

Additional Information
224 pages | 5.50" x 8.00" | Glossary of Indonesian Terms | Map situating Indonesia

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Hope Blooms: Plant a Seed, Harvest a Dream
Authors:
Hope Blooms
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

There is an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but Jessie Jollymore has experienced through the youth of Hope Blooms, an inner-city initiative she founded that engages at-risk youth, that sometimes it takes the children to raise the village. A dietitian who worked in inner city health for 15 years, Jollymore witnessed the challenges people face every day with food security, isolation, discrimination, and poverty. An idea bloomed of creating sustainable, youth-driven micro-economies: growing local food systems, growing social enterprises, and mentoring youth to become leaders of change. This led to over 50 youth ages 6 to 18 leading the way in growing over 3,000 pounds of organic produce yearly for their community, building innovative outdoor classrooms, and building a successful Fresh Herb Dressing social enterprise, with 100% of proceeds going toward growing food, and scholarships for youth.

In this inspiring, vibrant book, the youth behind Hope Blooms tell the story of the social enterprise they built from the soil up, the struggles of "creating something from nothing," successfully navigating the world of business, and ultimately building resilience and leaving behind a legacy. Includes youth's words of wisdom, stories, and poetry, and over 75 colour photos.

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180 pages | 7.50" x 9.25"

$24.95

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Looks Like Daylight: Voices of Indigenous Kids
Authors:
Deborah Ellis
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous American; Indigenous Canadian;
Grade Levels: 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

After her critically acclaimed books of interviews with Afghan, Iraqi, Israeli and Palestinian children, Deborah Ellis turns her attention closer to home. For two years she traveled across the United States and Canada interviewing Native children. The result is a compelling collection of interviews with children aged nine to eighteen. They come from all over the continent, from Iqaluit to Texas, Haida Gwaai to North Carolina, and their stories run the gamut — some heartbreaking; many others full of pride and hope.

You’ll meet Tingo, who has spent most of his young life living in foster homes and motels, and is now thriving after becoming involved with a Native Friendship Center; Myleka and Tulane, young artists in Utah; Eagleson, who started drinking at age twelve but now continues his family tradition working as a carver in Seattle; Nena, whose Seminole ancestors remained behind in Florida during the Indian Removals, and who is heading to New Mexico as winner of her local science fair; Isabella, who defines herself more as Native than American; Destiny, with a family history of alcoholism and suicide, who is now a writer and powwow dancer.

Many of these children are living with the legacy of the residential schools; many have lived through the cycle of foster care. Many others have found something in their roots that sustains them, have found their place in the arts, the sciences, athletics. Like all kids, they want to find something that engages them; something they love.

Deborah briefly introduces each child and then steps back, letting the kids speak directly to the reader, talking about their daily lives, about the things that interest them, and about how being Native has affected who they are and how they see the world.

As one reviewer has pointed out, Deborah Ellis gives children a voice that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to express so readily in the mainstream media. The voices in this book are as frank and varied as the children themselves.

Educator Information
Recommended for ages 12 and up.

Curriculum Connections: English, Geography, Humanities and Social Studies, Indigenous Studies, Civics and Careers, History 

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$15.95

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Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

A powerful story of resilience—a must-read for all Canadians.

Growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod was surrounded by his Cree family’s history. In shifting and unpredictable stories, his mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. McLeod was comforted by her presence and that of his many siblings and cousins, the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, and his deep love of the landscape. Bertha taught him to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that would return to watch over and guide him at key junctures of his life. 

However, in a spiral of events, Darrel’s mother turned wild and unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades and pursue an interest in music while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Meanwhile, his sibling’s gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity. 

The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha’s attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them. 

Beautifully written, honest and thought-provoking, Mamaskatch—named for the Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is ultimately an uplifting account of overcoming personal and societal obstacles. In spite of the traumas of Darrel’s childhood, deep and mysterious forces handed down by his mother helped him survive and thrive: her love and strength stayed with him to build the foundation of what would come to be a very fulfilling and adventurous life.

Reviews
“Honestly stunning. McLeod’s clear writing lays bare his complicated ties to his family, his lovers and his country in a memoir that moved and haunted me. If you loved Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed, you will love Mamaskatch.” — Eden Robinson, author of Son of a Trickster and Monkey Beach

“Reading the text was like diving into the eternity of dreams and being paralyzed by a nightmare. However, there is sunrise. Told candidly and with heartbreaking honesty, McLeod’s memoir shows how survival beckoned and he held on to the spirit of his ancestors—the love that no one can ever sever. He lives for all of us.— Louise Bernice Halfe, author of Burning in this Midnight Dream

“A compelling read that shows the heartbreaking results of imposed oppression. Darrel has identity problems of many kinds and the result is a life full of chaos. The gradual climb out of that dark place is touching.”— Bev Sellars, former councillor and chief of the Xat’sull First Nation and author of Price Paid.

“Mamaskatch is a profound and tender love song, an elegy to a wounded family, and an unsparing, exquisitely moving chronicle of growing up “Nehiyaw” (Cree). Like the birdsong his mother taught him to understand, McLeod’s voice is magical; it will lift and carry you through bone-breaking grief with grit, optimism and wry, life-saving humour. You will not leave this book unchanged.”— Denise Ryan, journalist, Vancouver Sun

"Darrel McLeod’s Mamaskatch is a heart-wrenching mîwâsin memoir full of vignettes that are so intricately woven that they guide you through with grace, sâkihiwêwin, humour, and maskihkîy. This is a narrative built through continuums that detail the lives of the McLeod family through their queer travails, trans realities, bannock and stew conversations, and a plethora of intergenerational traumas and triumphs. I can feel the warm embrace of the Three Sisters wrapping around me as I read this, that heart-drum beat resounding beneath its literary cadences, the frigidity of the Athabasca kissing my heels, and a narrator who teaches me from his very first passage in this novel that a good story is a medicine song that re-members and re-animates, in true nehiyawewin fashion, those who have paved the way for us and those who for whom we pave.  Ay-hay, Darrel, for this lovely work that lulls me back into those old-fashioned country songs that nearly every prairie kokôm raised us on. Mâmaskâc!"— Joshua Whitehead, author of Full-Metal Indigiqueer and Jonny Appleseed

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240 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

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$29.95

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    Nanaimo, BC, Canada, V9T 0H2
    Phone: 250.585.1549
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