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Memoirs

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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

Additional Information
240 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$29.95

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Northern Wildflower: A Memoir
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Dene;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

This is the story of how a young northern girl picked herself up out of the rough and polished herself off like the diamond that she is in the land of the midnight sun. 

Northern Wildflower is the beautifully written and powerful memoir of Catherine Lafferty. With startling honesty and a distinct voice, Lafferty tells her story of being a Dene woman growing up in Canada’s North and her struggles with intergenerational trauma, discrimination, poverty, addiction, love, and loss. Focusing on the importance of family ties, education, spiritualism, cultural identity, health, happiness, and the courage to speak the truth, Lafferty’s words bring cultural awareness and relativity to Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike, giving insight into the real issues many Indigenous women face and dispelling misconceptions about what life in the North is like.

Reviews
"Catherine Lafferty’s life story as a daughter and mother wanting more for her family and for herself is so completely inspiring. Northern Wildflower is a celebration of soul, grace and dignity.  I am floored with the talent, courage and heart inside this wonderful debut." — Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed

Additional Information
158 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$20.00

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Nunavik
Authors:
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; Inuit;
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

Author Michel Hellman meets with his editor Luc Bossé and casually promises to write a sequel to his best-selling book Mile End. But the Montréal neighborhood, with its trendy cafés and gluten-free bakeries, doesn't seem half as inspiring as it used to be. Part memoir and part documentary, Nunavik follows Hellman on a trek through Northern Quebec as he travels to Kuujjuaq, Puvirnituk, Kangiqsujuaq and Kangirsurk, meeting members of the First Nations, activists, hunters and drug dealers along the way. An honest and often funny account of this trip, Nunavik truly feels personal, with the author acknowledging (and challenging) his own prejudices. While the North has had a profound influence on our collective identity as Canadians, it remains an idea - myth rather than reality. Empirical rather than theoretical, Nunavik reflects on the way our relationship to the North has shaped our own cultural landscape.

Reviews
"An insightful, self-reflexive memoir of the author's journey to small Inuit communities in Nunavik, the northern part of the province of Quebec. Hellman shares his thoughts and perceptions of the North while never losing sight of his own racial privilege." - Jarrah, Goodreads.com

Educator Information
Graphic Novel | Non-Fiction

Additional Information
156 pages | 6.25" x 8.25" | Black and white images

Authentic Canadian Content
$22.95

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One Native Life
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;
Grade Levels: 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

In One Native Life, Wagamese looks back down the road he has travelled in reclaiming his identity and talks about the things he has learned as a human being, a man and an Ojibway in his fifty-two years. Whether he's writing about playing baseball, running away with the circus, attending a sacred bundle ceremony or meeting Pierre Trudeau, he tells these stories in a healing spirit. Through them, he celebrates the learning journey his life has been.

Free of rhetoric and anger despite the horrors he has faced, Wagamese’s prose resonates with a peace that has come from acceptance. Acceptance is an Aboriginal principle, and he has come to see that we are all neighbours here. One Native Life is his tribute to the people, the places and the events that have allowed him to stand in the sunshine and celebrate being alive.

Reviews
"One Native Life contains sixty-five stories that are divided into four books: Ahki (Earth), Ishskwaday (Fire),Nibi (Water), andIshpiming (Universe). From this diverse selection emerge accounts not only of disappointment and racial discrimination but also of the transformative power of love and caring." - Sean Carleton, The British Columbia Quarterly

Educator Information
Suggested Grades: 9-12
ABPBC

Grades 10-12 BC English First Peoples Resource for units on First Peoples' Story and Place-Conscious Learning.

Additional Information
272 pages | 5.63" x 8.75"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$19.95

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Raven Walks Around the World: Life of a Wandering Activist
Format: Hardcover
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Haida;
Grade Levels: 10; 11; 12; University/College;

In 1970, twenty-two-year-old Thom Henley left Michigan and drifted around the northwest coast, getting by on odd jobs and advice from even odder characters. He rode the rails, built a squatter shack on a beach, came to be known as "Huckleberry" and embarked on adventures along the West Coast and abroad that, just like his Mark Twain namesake, situated him in all the right and wrong places at all the right and wrong times. Eventually, a hippie named Stormy directed him to Haida Gwaii where, upon arrival, a Haida Elder affirmed to the perplexed Huckleberry that she had been expecting him. From that point onward, Henley's life unfolded as if destiny were at work--perhaps with a little help from Raven, the legendary trickster.

While kayaking the remote area around South Moresby Island, Henley was struck by the clear-cut logging and desecration of ancient Haida village sites. Henley collaborated with the Haida for the next fourteen years to spearhead the largest environmental campaign in Canadian history and the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park. Later, he became a co-founder of Rediscovery--a wilderness program for First Nations and non-aboriginal youth that would become a global model for reconciliation.

Henley's story is peppered with a cast of unlikely characters serendipitously drawn together, such as the time he hosted then-Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and entourage, including five-year-old Justin Trudeau, at his remote driftwood hippie hut (the visit was unanticipated and at the time the helicopter touched down, Henley and a friend were doing laundry). Over and over, Henley found himself at the epicentre of significant events that included a historic train caravan across Canada, an epic Haida canoe voyage, an indigenous rights campaign world tour for the Penan tribespeople of Borneo, as well as two global disasters--the 2004 South Asian tsunami and the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Beautifully recounted with passion, humour and humility, Raven Walks around the World is a moving and thoughtful account of a life lived in harmony with the land and community.

Educator Information
Recommended resource for grades 10-12 for these subject areas: Contemporary Indigenous Studies, English Studies, Environmental Science, Literary Studies, BC First Peoples

Additional Information
272 pages | 6.00" x 9.00"

Authenticity Note: This book has been labelled as containing Authentic Indigenous Text because the author was formally adopted by the Haida and bestowed with the new name "Yaahl Hlaagaay Gwii Kaas" (Raven Walks around the World).  This is in keeping with Strong Nations Authenticity Guidelines.  It is up to readers to determine if this will work as an authentic resource for their purposes.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$32.95

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Remembering My Métis Past: Reminisces of Edwin St. Pierre
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; Métis;
Grade Levels: 11; 12; University/College;

In this memoir, Ed St. Pierre brings the reader back in time, showcasing how life was lived by the Métis in the road allowance community of Crescent Lake in the 1940s. He shares his stories of his early life, including hunting with his father, searching for mudhen eggs, and the games that he played as a youngster. He also describes how the Métis lived with stories about grease lamps, rubaboo, chokecherries, and much more.

This book includes select Michif translations by Harriet Oaks St. Pierre.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$8.95

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The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Cree (Nehiyawak);
Grade Levels: 9; 10; 11; 12; University/College;

The Education of Augie Merasty offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school.

Now a retired fisherman and trapper, Joseph A. (Augie) Merasty was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children who were taken from their families and sent to government-funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of "aggressive assimiliation."

As Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse.

Even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s generous and authentic voice shines through.

Awards

  • 2016 Burt Award Second Place Winner

Educator Information
The Canadian Indigenous Books for Schools list recommends this resource for Grades 9-12 English Language Arts and Social Studies.

Caution: Mature subject matter and descriptions of discrimination, sexual/physical violence, and substance abuse.

Additional Information
105 pages | 4.25" x 6.50"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$21.95

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The Reason You Walk
Format: Paperback
Text Content Territories: Indigenous Canadian; First Nations; Anishinaabeg; Ojibway;

When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician 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. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father's traumatic childhood at residential school. An intriguing doubleness marks The Reason You Walk, a reference to an Anishinaabe ceremonial song. Born to an Anishinaabe father and a non-native mother, he has a foot in both cultures. He is a Sundancer, an academic, a former rapper, a hereditary chief, and an urban activist. His father, Tobasonakwut, was both a beloved traditional chief and a respected elected leader who engaged directly with Ottawa. Internally divided, his father embraced both traditional native religion and Catholicism, the religion that was inculcated into him at the residential school where he was physically and sexually abused. In a grand gesture of reconciliation, Kinew's father invited the Roman Catholic bishop of Winnipeg to a Sundance ceremony in which he adopted him as his brother. Kinew writes affectingly of his own struggles in his twenties to find the right path, eventually giving up a self-destructive lifestyle to passionately pursue music and martial arts. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its aboriginal history and living presence.
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.

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$22.00

In Re-Print
The Way Home
Format: Paperback
Grade Levels: 12; University/College;

David Neel was an infant when his father, a Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw artist, died, triggering a series of events that would separate him from his homeland and its rich cultural traditions for twenty-five years. When he saw a Potlatch mask carved by his great-great-grandfather in a museum in Fort Worth, Texas, the encounter caused the aspiring photographer to wonder if he could return to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Drawing on memory, legend, and his own art and photographs, Neel tells the story of his struggle to reconnect with his culture after decades of separation and a childhood marred by trauma and abuse. David returned to the Pacific Coast, where he apprenticed with master carvers from his father’s village on Vancouver Island, and his career as an author and artist took him to the United States and to Mexico, to Europe and back again to British Columbia. Along the way, he met and photographed some of the most talented artists and Indigenous people of his generation. His travels helped him grow as a man and become an accomplished and prolific artist, but they also reconfirmed the healing power of returning home.

The Way Home is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome great obstacles and to the power and endurance of Indigenous culture and art.

Educator Information
This memoir is a must-read for anyone interested in Canadian art and artists, particularly Indigenous art, as well as those learning about or active in cultural revitalization in Indigenous communities.

Subjects / Themes: Indigenous Art, Canadian Art, Memoir.

Additional Information
192 pages | 8.00" x 10.00"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
Authentic Indigenous Artwork
$32.95

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They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School
Format: Paperback

Like thousands of Aboriginal children in Canada, and elsewhere in the colonized world, Xatsu'll chief Bev Sellars spent part of her childhood as a student in a church-run residential school.

These institutions endeavored to "civilize" Native children through Christian teachings; forced separation from family, language, and culture; and strict discipline. Perhaps the most symbolically potent strategy used to alienate residential school children was addressing them by assigned numbers only-not by the names with which they knew and understood themselves.

In this frank and poignant memoir of her years at St. Joseph's Mission, Sellars breaks her silence about the residential school's lasting effects on her and her family-from substance abuse to suicide attempts-and eloquently articulates her own path to healing. 'Number One' comes at a time of recognition-by governments and society at large-that only through knowing the truth about these past injustices can we begin to redress them.

Awards

  • 2014 Burt Award Third Place Winner

Educator Information
Grades 10-12 BC English First Peoples resource for the unit Place-Conscious Learning - Exploring Text through Local Landscape.

Additional Information
256 pages | 5.67" x 8.20"

Authentic Canadian Content
Authentic Indigenous Text
$19.95

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