From Page to Stage: Sherlock Holmes

Winnipeg Public Library and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre have teamed up to bring you new ways to enrich your theatre experience! Interested in the current RMTC production, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily? Join crime writer Catherine Macdonald as she examines the amateur sleuth “template” established by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle at the Millennium Library on Tuesday, October 21, at 12:10 p.m. And if you can’t make it to the theatre or the library, try a few of the suggested reads below…

Explore More Sherlock Holmes

First introduced in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes quickly became the archetype of the cerebral detective and has inspired hundreds of novels, stories, and dramatic adaptations. We can rest assured that Holmes will continue to be rewritten, remixed, re-interpreted, and re-imagined for the next hundred years.

Explore the Original Stories

holmesThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle. The character of Irene Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia” was widely believed to be based on Lillie Langtry. That short story and eleven others are brought together in this collection. (Because the book is in the public domain, free etexts are also widely available.)

annotatedThe New Annotated Sherlock Holmes. This massive four-volume edition reprints all 56 Holmes stories together with critical interpretations, historical notes, lavish illustrations, and much, much more for the devoted Sherlockian.

Explore More Drama

brett Jeremy Brett in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes [and various other titles]. Considered the definitive Holmes of our era, Brett portrayed the detective in more than forty episodes for British television. (Also available online via hoopla, the streaming video service WPL subscribes to.)




cumberbatchSherlock. The BBC’s modern-day version of Holmes as a texting, asocial genius has been both critically acclaimed and wildly popular, due in no small part to the charisma of Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock.

Explore Works Inspired by Holmes

In a loving act of homage, authors have been inventing varied and creative ways to explain how they discovered “lost” Sherlock Holmes case histories ever since Doyle ceased publishing. A staggering number of these pastiches have been published over the past century; here’s a sampling of just a few.

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Laurie R. King. In 1915, a retired Sherlock Holmes is quietly studying honeybees when a young woman literally stumbles onto him on the Sussex Downs. Under his reluctant tutelage, Mary Russell proves a deft protégée and a fitting partner in the first of a long-running series.

enolaThe Case of the Missing Marquess, Nancy Springer. This first in a series for younger readers introduces Sherlock Holmes’s (much) younger sister – an engaging and intelligent detective in her own right – as she searches for her missing mother.

Dust and Shadow, Lyndsay Faye. This atmospheric novel pits Holmes against Jack the Ripper as he himself is wounded while trying to capture the East End killer.  

The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz. Holmes and Watson find themselves being drawn ever deeper into an international conspiracy connected to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston, the gaslit streets of London, opium dens and much, much more.

A Study in Sherlock, edited by Laurie R. King & Leslie Klinger. Eighteen well-known authors from Lee Child to Neil Gaiman provide their own original perspectives and variations on the consulting detective.

Explore More History

Bertie: a Life of Edward VII, Jane Ridley [also published as The heir apparent]. Edward VII (aka “Bertie”) was 59 when he finally came to power and reigned as King of England for only the last ten years of his life. This colourful biography paints a balanced portrait of his life, including his relationships with Lillie Langtry and other women.

Oscar Wilde, Richard Ellman. Ellman’s beautifully written, profoundly researched biography won a Pulitzer Prize and is still considered the standard life of Wilde.

scienceThe Science of Sherlock Holmes, E.J. Wagner. Doyle grounded Holmes’ investigatory methods in the cutting-edge science of his day, and this book uses Sherlock’s adventures to explore the real-life developments in forensic science during the late 19th century, from fingerprints to handwriting analysis.

Explore More Sherlockiana

On Conan Doyle, Michael Dirda. Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Michael Dirda is a passionate Sherlock fan. His highly engaging introduction to Holmes’ creator combines memoir and personal appreciation as well as an insider’s account of The Baker Street Irregulars, the club dedicated to the study of Sherlock Holmes.

A Sherlock Holmes Handbook, Christopher Redmond. This exhaustive reference to the world of Sherlock Holmes gives a full background to the original stories and everything related, including movie and television versions, Victorian era history, and the entire Holmes phenomenon.

bioSherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography, Nick Rennison. “What carefully plotted conspiracy led Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to declare that Holmes was merely a literary invention?” A delightful exercise in mock scholarship tracing the life of Holmes in incredible, imaginative detail.



Children’s Books on Human Rights

humanrightsLast week, Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child rights campaigner, jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The committee said Yousafzai and Satyarthi are being honoured for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education”.

Millions of children around the world have no access to education, work long hours under hazardous conditions, or are forced to serve as soldiers in armed conflict. Young and immature, they are often easily exploited, and it is activists like Malala and Kailash that ensure those children have a voice.

Educating children about social justice and human rights allows them to understand the importance of treating people equitably and the responsibilities we all have to protect the rights of others.  By recognizing their own rights, children become aware of how they should be treated by others and how to stand up for these rights.

Books can be a great way to start the conversation about human rights, and Winnipeg Public Library has lots of resources that can be used by children, parents, caregivers, and educators.  You can find a booklist on our website entitled Children’s Books on Human Rights that provides a sampling of some of the amazing children’s books on human rights that you can find at the Library.  But for now, here are some of the highlights:

By Leo Dillon and Diane Dillon

This picture book is a tribute to peace and a celebration of diverse cultures. Forgiveness and generosity are portrayed as essential, and the authors show children creating a more generous and peaceful world.

By Todd Parr

With simple text and playful illustrations, this picture book celebrates diversity and focuses on acceptance and individuality.

By Carol Matas

As Rose begins her diary, she is in her third home since coming to Winnipeg.  Traumatized by her experiences in the Holocaust, she struggles to connect with others, and above all, to trust again.

By Christy Jordan-Fenton

The moving memoir of eight year old Margaret, an Inuit girl who refuses to be intimidated by a cruel nun at a residential school.  Margaret emerges with her spirit intact.

By Eric Walters and Adrian Bradbury

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. This ancient proverb means that when the large fight, it is the small who suffer most. Here are five very different and personal stories of children caught in a conflict.

By Susan Hughes

Travel to India, Burkina Faso, Brazil, Russia, China, Uganda, and a dozen other countries to visit incredible schools and meet the students who attend them.


My CMHR is not a Museum

In our modern world of consumerist culture, superficial sentimentality and instant gratification, we ask ourselves, how do we eliminate bullying, racism and war? A museum dedicated to Human Rights may help achieve such lofty goals, but in reality we already have such a museum. It is called a library. The price of admission is a free card and it holds every idea in the world. According to the Greater Good, in order to learn empathy, we must practice active listening, look for commonality in others, share in other people’s joy, and above all READ FICTION.

In my dream Library for Human Rights, Canadian women play a prominent role. The foundation of my dream library was laid by Nellie McClung, prolific author, mother of five, and champion of the right to vote for women.

Upon entering the Beatrice Culleton Mosionier Lobby , one would join the circle and watch the Royal Winnipeg Ballet dancing their new ballet Going Home Star, Truth and Reconciliation around the fires that are burning for our missing aboriginal sisters .

DanceoftheBanishedSpreading out from the atrium, like the spokes of a wheel from a Red River cart are the Halls of Fiction. To our left is the Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch Wing for Historical Fiction. Marsha’s new book Dance of the Banished is the story of two teen Alevi Kurds during WWI.  Zeynep and Ali are young and betrothed yet Ali is sent to Canada by his mother to escape the coming war. Zeynep stays behind, writing to Ali in her journal about the changes happening around her. All too soon she is witnessing the destruction of her village and the genocide of her people. Although Ali is sent to Canada for safety, he is accused of spying and is sent to a work/slave camp in Northern Ontario proving that acts of racism are not uncommon in Canada.

MoonatNineTo our right is the Deborah Ellis Wing for Middle Eastern Fiction. Acclaimed for her Breadwinner seriesDeborah Ellis’ latest novel describes the realities of lesbian teens in Iran. Based on real events, Moon at Nine is the story of Farrin, who hides her parents’ political leanings from the authorities since the truth will send the entire family to jail. As Farrin slowly realizes she is in love with her female classmate Sadira, she begins to hide that secret from her teachers as well. Innocent, same-sex love such as theirs is strictly forbidden and punishable by death. When Farrin’s family realizes the true nature of their love, they turn their backs and leave her to her fate, reminding us the power of the many easily and routinely crushes the freedom of a few.

TheReluctantJournalStraight ahead is the Susin Nielsen Wing for Realistic Fiction. The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen was inspired by the events of the Columbine High School massacre. Henry is a typical geek – red hair, smart, and slightly overweight.  When he finds himself in a new school, he cannot bring himself to make friends. Henry doesn’t want to talk about IT and his therapist insists that Henry write in his journal. Reluctantly, he does, and we discover that Henry’s older brother was a victim of bullying and has taken action against his aggressor. As the truth about IT is revealed, we are reminded that bystanders are victims too.

By experiencing the effects of human suffering through reading fiction, meaningful change is possible for anyone. My library for Human Rights is a place where everyone has the Freedom to Read , to discuss, to debate, and to reflect. It is a place where we find our similarities instead of pointing out our differences. In times of darkness, we search for the light of truth. Find it in the pages of the next novel you read.


Join the (NFB Film) Club

National Film Board Film Clubs!

Both Millennium Library and St. James Library are currently hosting NFB Film Clubs, showcasing free films from the NFB’s vast collection. Screenings are followed by a short discussion of the film for those who want to take part. Past clubs have had spirited discussions after the screenings, so it is a great opportunity to contribute thoughts and ideas.

Below are descriptions of the films and their respective screening times and locations. Call the specified location to register.

Out of Mind, Out of Sight


Millennium Library, 251 Donald St.
Saturday, October 18 at 2 p.m.

This feature documentary profiles four residents of the Brockville Mental Health Centre, a forensic psychiatric hospital for people who have committed violent crimes. Four patients—two men and two women—struggle to gain control over their lives so they can return to a society that often fears and demonizes them. Shrouded in stigma, institutions like this one are places into which patients disappear from public view for years. Four-time Emmy winner John Kastner was granted unprecedented access to the Brockville facility for 18 months, allowing 46 patients and 75 staff to share their experiences with stunning frankness. Documentary/88 min. Rated PG.

Mighty Jerome


St. James-Assiniboia Library, 1910 Portage Ave.
Thursday, October 9 at 6 p.m.

From acclaimed filmmaker Charles Officer comes the story of the rise, fall and redemption of Harry Jerome, Canada’s most record-setting track and field star. Gorgeous monochrome imagery, impassioned interviews and astonishing archival footage are used to tell the triumphant and compelling story of what Harry Jerome’s own coach called “the greatest comeback in track and field history.” Documentary/84 min. Rated PG. 

Oscar Shorts


St. James-Assiniboia Library, 1910 Portage Ave.
Thursday, October 16 at 6 p.m.

A compilation of Oscar-winning films including:

The Sand Castle, a short animated film about the sandman and the creatures he sculpts out of sand. 13 min.

The Danish Poet, a short animation about a poet whose creative well has run dry and the quest he undertakes to answer some pretty big questions. 15 min.

Bob’s Birthday, an animated short about a wife who plans a celebration for her husband, but underestimates the sudden impact of middle age on his mood. 12 min.

Neighbours, a live action short about two people who come to blows over the possession of a flower. 8 min.

Flamenco at 5:15, a live action impressionistic record of a flamenco dance class given to senior students of the National Ballet School of Canada by two great teachers from Spain, Susana and Antonio Robledo. 29 min.

Status Quo? The Unfinished Business of Feminism in CanadaStatus-Quo_LG

St. James-Assiniboia Library, 1910 Portage Ave.
Thursday, October 23 at 6 p.m.

Feminism has shaped the society we live in. But just how far has it brought us, and how relevant is it today? This feature documentary zeroes in on key concerns such as violence against women, access to abortion, and universal childcare, asking how much progress we have truly made on these issues. Rich with archival material and startling contemporary stories, Status Quo? uncovers answers that are provocative and at times shocking. Documentary/87 min. Unrated.

Britt Embry

New to the Local History Room

Cover image for The rise of the new West : the history of a region in Confederation Has it been a while since you read something related to Manitoba? Are you looking for something with a fresh angle on a familiar topic? It’s time to take a look at what’s new in the Library’s Local History collection as there have been several exciting new arrivals.

The rise of the new West : the history of a region in Confederation, an updated edition of Conway’s previous work, covers the political and economic rise of the western provinces from the time of the Riel Rebellion up to the first decade of the 21st century and the rise of conservative politics. This is a great read for those wanting to learn about the rise of socialist and unionist movements (culminating in the creation of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which would be succeeded by the New Democratic Party), the equally transformative impact economic sectors like agriculture and energy had in shaping politics, and the changing relationship of the “West” with the rest of Canada.

Author Christopher Dafoe has recently published a biography, entitled In Search of Canada, about his grandfather John Wesley Dafoe who worked as chief editor for the Winnipeg Free Press from 1901 to 1944 and became one of Canada’s most influential journalists. The book focuses on his formative years and early journalistic career in the 19th century, with many moves between Quebec and Manitoba, and the unforeseen events that finally led him to Winnipeg. He started teaching in Ontario while both of his parents had never been to school before beginning his career in journalism working for a Montreal newspaper at the age of 17. The book is filled with stories and recollections from those who knew him (including his wife Alice) before he became the man historians remember as well as the personal papers that “Jack” Dafoe left in the family archives.

Vikings on a Prairie Ocean: the Saga of a Lake, a People, a Family and a man is the memoir of Glenn Sigurdson, who lived with his family and ran a fishing business on Lake Winnipeg. Along with describing his personal experiences as part of a fishing family, he gives a portrait of the Icelandic community that grew from the initial 19th century settlers and developed an enduring partnership with the local Aboriginal communities. Sigurdson pays homage to the fortitude of his parents and the pioneers before them in overcoming many challenges and helping shape this part of our province.

Winnipeg’s General Strike: Reports from the Front Lines explores the emergence of two new daily newspapers that covered the strike from opposite sides while existing dailies were shut down. The media coverage from both pro-strikers and pro-establishment, and how it shaped public perception of events, is described in the context of post-World War I Winnipeg where fear of the emerging Communist threat of revolution clashed with workers’ demands for greater rights. The book’s approach to the subject is fresh, easy to read and well illustrated.

Cover image for Saving Lake Winnipeg

Concern about the environment, specifically for the health of Lake Winnipeg, is what motivated water analyst Robert Sandford to write this third in a series of manifestos: Saving Lake Winnipeg. Sandford wants to alert us to the increasing toxicity of the waters of not only Lake Winnipeg, but more and more lakes in Manitoba and the broader Great Plains region. He appeals for immediate action from government as well as business and society in general to combat this threat and prevent the spread of this phenomenon and save Lake Winnipeg from becoming an “open-air sewer.”

Up North: Manitoba’s Last Frontier is a beautiful book of photographs compiled by professional photographer Hans Arnold during an 8 month journey that took him progressively to the most remote parts of our province. The photographs collected in the book range from gorgeous shots of nature and fauna throughout the seasons mixed with signs of human presence like a dam, a road, or an isolated farm.

Summer might be over, and winter is coming, but it is also a great time for readers as fall brings a new crop of freshly-published titles to enrich our minds.


‘Tis the Season

“Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!” ― Humbert Wolfe

Autumn is my favorite season. A lot of people really dislike autumn, for a variety of reasons, and I know, I know, it’s the one that comes before that long, cold stretch of ice and snow that seems endless, which shall remain nameless at this time. But trust me when I say that there are many things to love about autumn.

This a time of year when we can really learn something from Mother Nature. Animals are wiser than humans in many respects, and never more so than when we observe their behavior in the autumn. Those that are able to go south, to warmer places, while those that stay put grow thicker coats, eat more, put on weight, and sleep for months at a time. The human race may have opposable thumbs, but I really think that animals got the better deal in this situation.

Even if you dislike autumn, this book may just change your mind. Author Jim Arnosky captures the great beauty and spirit of the season with gorgeous watercolor illustrations. While this book is written for children, I still recommend it to adults.




Although I lack the innate ability to grow a fur coat, I can still find ways to keep out the cold. Perhaps it’s a holdover from the time in my life when fall meant going back to school, but this is the time of year I like to start big craft projects and try to master new skills. Now that my garden is almost done, I have the time to start looking at afghan and quilting patterns, digging through my stash of yarn and fabric for projects that will rest cozily on my lap and keep me warm even before they’re completed. It’s also the time to start on any holiday gifts or decorations I may want to create.

Fortunately, I don’t have to forage for food to make myself ready for the upcoming months. Autumn also offers the chance to shift gears in the kitchen, so I dust off my slow cooker and dig out my bread recipes. The fruits and vegetables that are in season right now lend themselves to leisurely, lengthy cooking times, the perfect counterpoint to the crisper air and cooler temperatures outside.

While a part of me embraces the idea of hibernation, I find that this time of year lends itself to more sociable activities. Even though I’m not really into sports, I am a big fan of any occasion that encourages lots of eating, drinking and yelling at people that can’t possibly hear me. As such, I can’t help but feel some of the excitement and tension that’s so much a part of events like the World Series and the Grey Cup, or the beginning of the NHL and NFL seasons.

There are so many things to like about autumn, from the beauty of nature to the pleasures of being indoors. And, if nothing else, autumn is a time of year that is not yet winter.


Human Rights Booklist

To mark the occasion of the official opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, library staff  put together a list of human rights resources for adults. These books and films are narratives — true or fictional — about the human rights and dignities we all share, and the struggle to assert them in all times and places. We strove to make the list as inclusive as possible, from older classics to the latest titles, while still maintaining a special focus on Canadian writers and topics. While they’re grouped by broad theme, of course many of these books have messages about more than one aspect of human rights.

Gender & Sexual Orientation

cereusCereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo
An exquisite cross-generational history set on a fictional Caribbean island that unveils the mystery surrounding Mala, an aging, notoriously crazy woman suspected of murdering her father. In luminous, sensual prose, it explores identity, gender, and violence in a celebration of our capacity to love despite cruelty and despair.

The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
The poignant story of a girl’s coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution of the late 1970s, and of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval.

En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, Édouard Louis
Elevé dans une famille ouvrière de Picardie, Eddy ne ressemble pas aux autres enfants. Sa manière de se tenir, son élocution, sa délicatesse lui valent de nombreuses humiliations et injures, tant par ses camarades de classe que par son père alcoolique et sa mère revêche. Lui-même finit par s’interroger sur cette homosexualité dont on le taxe avant même qu’il en éprouve le désir.  Un récit d’apprentissage dur et poignant.

For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu
At birth, Peter Huang is given the Chinese name juan chaun, meaning powerful king. He is the exalted only son in a family of daughters, the one who will finally fulfill his father’s dreams of Western masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he knows that he is a girl.

handmaidThe Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
This is the story of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order who have only one purpose: to breed. In Gilead, where women are prohibited from holding jobs, reading, and forming friendships, Offred’s persistent memories of life in the “time before” and her will to survive are acts of rebellion.

Je suis une bacha posh, Ukmina Manoori
En Afghanistan, depuis toujours, certaines petites filles jouent le rôle d’un fils. On les appelle les « bacha posh » : les « filles habillées en garçons ». Un choix familial qui permet aux parents d’avoir une personne autonome pour faire les courses, travailler ou, dans certains cas, les sauver du déshonneur de n’avoir pas eu d’héritier mâle. Mais, à l’adolescence, les religieux rétablissent la loi naturelle. Les fillettes doivent alors se marier, enfanter et renoncer à leur liberté. Ukmina a décidé d’affronter la pression sociale et familiale en gardant ses vêtements d’homme. Un choix qui lui a ouvert la voie d’un destin extraordinaire.  Mais la liberté a toujours un prix. Pour « Ukmina la guerrière », ce fut sa vie de femme.

Physical & Mental Disabilities

Enabling Technology: Disabled People, Work and New Technology, Alan Roulstone
Disabled people are less likely to be afforded the same rights as able-bodied workers in access to the workplace. Enabling Technology looks at the role of new technology in reducing the barriers disabled people have commonly faced in the field of employment.

The Goode Life: Memoirs of Disability Rights Activist Barb Goode, Barb Goode
The inspiring story of one of Canada’s most remarkable and humble citizens who, in her mission of giving voice to those who had no voice, travelled the globe to meet some of our greatest leaders and some of our most vulnerable citizens.

livesHidden Lives: Coming Out on Mental Illness, edited by Lenore Ruth Rowntree
Evocative essays by writers who live with, or have close family members diagnosed with, a wide range of mental illnesses from depression to schizophrenia aim to break down the stigma that surrounds these conditions.

Immigrants & Refugees

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz
Oscar is a sweet ghetto nerd who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien. But Oscar may never get what he wants, thanks to the fukú—a curse that has haunted his family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the United States.

differencesCes différences et coutumes qui dérangent, Blandine Soulmana
Blandine Soulmana, elle-même immigrante, s’interroge… Les immigrants ont-ils tous les droits? Devant certains constats aberrants, je me pose de sérieuses questions. Est-ce que les gens qui choisissent de venir s’établir au Québec sont suffisamment informés qu’ils vivront dans une société laïque qui prône l’égalité entre les sexes? Est-ce qu’ils sont au courant qu’ici, pour la majorité des Québécois, voiler les femmes est perçu comme une attitude machiste, d’emprise et de supériorité de la part des hommes? Est-ce qu’ils sont informés que c’est aux nouveaux arrivants de s’adapter à la culture de leur pays d’accueil et non le contraire? Les immigrants sont-ils au courant que quitter leur pays inclut forcément un renoncement et qu’ils ne peuvent pas prendre juste ce qui fait leur affaire dans leur pays d’accueil? Un pays libre se donne la liberté d’avoir ses règles et de poser ses limites. Je considère que le Québec fait partie des rares endroits qui acceptent tout et n’importe quoi au nom de la tolérance.

nowhereCitizens of Nowhere: From Refugee Camp to Canadian Campus, Debi Goodwin
A poignant look at the lives of young men and women who experienced firsthand the horrors of civil war and exile from their homeland, and who now have renewed hope for their futures.

Safe Haven: The Refugee Experience of Five Families
An intimate introduction to five families who came to Canada from the former Czechoslovakia, Chile, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Somalia, with personal glimpses of their hopes and fears, losses mourned and futures planned.

hopeKeeping Hope Alive: One Woman, 90,000 Lives Changed, Hawa Abdi
Dr. Hawa Abdi is the founder of a massive camp for internally displaced people located a few miles from war-torn Mogadishu, Somalia. Since 1991, when the Somali government collapsed, famine struck, and aid groups fled, she has dedicated herself to providing help for people whose lives have been shattered by violence and poverty, ignoring the clan lines that have often served to divide the country.

The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Incredible Courage, Anne Mahon
In their own words, men and women ranging in age from four to 73 and representing a variety of African countries and backgrounds tell their compelling life stories and how they came to their new home in Manitoba.


Beloved, Toni Morrison
Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe’s new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved.

negroesThe Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill
Abducted as an eleven-year-old child from her village in West Africa, enslaved on the sea islands of South Carolina, Aminata escapes during the chaos of the American Revolution. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned their freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice of the new colony prompt her to travel back to Africa, then on to London, where she bears witness to the injustices of slavery and its toll on her life and a whole people.

Enslaved: True Stories of Modern Day Slavery, edited by Jesse Sage
From poverty-stricken countries to affluent American suburbs, modern-day slaves toil as sweatshop workers, sex slaves, migrant workers, domestic servants, and chattel slaves. This heartbreaking, eye-opening collection includes accounts written by ten former slaves and slaveholders.

War & Genocide

cellistThe Cellist of Sarajevo, Steven Galloway [Français]
From his window, a musician sees twenty-two of his friends and neighbours killed by a mortar attack. In an act of defiance, the man picks up his cello and decides to play at the site of the shelling for twenty-two days to honour their memory. Inspired by a true story, The Cellist of Sarajevo explores how war can change one’s definition of humanity.

Death and the Maiden, Ariel Dorfman
This provocative, award-winning play is set in a country that has only recently returned to democracy. Gerardo Escobar has just been chosen to head the commission that will investigate the crimes of the old regime when his car breaks down and he is picked up by a doctor Roberto Miranda. But in his voice, Gerardo’s wife Paulina thinks she recognizes another man—the one who tortured her as she lay blindfolded in a detention center years before.

Le dernier train d’Hiroshima : Les survivants racontent, Charles Pellegrino
En s’appuyant sur le témoignage des survivants des bombes d’Hiroshima et de Nagasaki, Charles Pellegrino retrace les événements des deux jours d’août 1945 durant lesquels des engins atomiques ont explosé sur le Japon, changeant à jamais la vie sur Terre. Au coeur de ce récit, la voix de ceux qui ont vécu les premiers les explosions atomiques : les civils japonais et les aviateurs américains.

Notre-Dame du Nil, Scholastique Mukasonga
Perché sur la crête Congo-Nil, Notre-Dame du Nil est un lycée de jeunes filles.  Encerclées par les nervis du pouvoir hutu, c’est un microcosme existentiel, un prélude exemplaire au génocide rwandais.

Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Roméo Dallaire [Français]
When General Dallaire was called on to serve as commander of the UN mission to Rwanda, he believed that his assignment was to help two warring parties achieve peace. Instead, he witnessed the killings of more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans. With only a few troops, Dallaire rescued thousands, but his call for more support from the global community fell on deaf ears.

rainWhite Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki [DVD], directed by Steven Okazaki
Through the powerful recollections of survivors of the atomic bombs that leveled two Japanese cities in 1945, this film presents a deeply moving look at the painful legacy of the first – and hopefully last – uses of thermonuclear weapons in war.


girls4 Little Girls [DVD], directed by Spike Lee
When a bomb tore through the basement of a black Baptist church on September 15, 1963, it took the lives of four young girls. This racially motivated crime sparked outrage and helped fuel the civil rights movement sweeping across the United States.

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa, Adam Hochschild
In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber and brutalized its people, while cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to one of the first mass human rights movement of the 20th century.

Obasan, Joy Kogawa
A powerful and passionate novel that tells the story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War through the eyes of a child. Naomi is a sheltered and beloved five-year-old when Pearl Harbor changes her life. Separated from her mother, she watches bewildered as she and her family become enemy aliens, persecuted in their own land.

placeA Small Place, Jamaica Kincaid
A brilliant look at colonialism and its effects in Antigua, the ten-by-twelve-mile island in the British West Indies where Kincaid grew up. Lyrical, sardonic, and forthright by turns, A Small Place amplifies our vision of one small place and all that it signifies.

things Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe
This classic novel follows the life of Okonkwo, “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria, before and after his land’s colonization by Great Britain and the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries.


Indigenous Peoples

rightsAboriginal Rights are Not Human Rights: In Defense of Indigenous Struggles, Peter Kulchyski
A provocative argument that the category of “human rights” may not accurately reflect the particular rights of Aboriginal peoples as the author looks at Aboriginal peoples’ struggles to protect their traditional lands.

Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life, James W. Daschuk
“[A] great work of history… This is excavation of an authentically Canadian past from under layers of colonial myth, performed with a scalpel, and illuminated by searing prose” (Globe and Mail).

Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence and a New Emergence, Leanne Simpson
First Nations activist and educator Simpson explores collective acts of resurgence and the regeneration of Indigenous languages and traditions as a means to changing the relationship Indigenous peoples have with the Canadian state.

L’éveil des survivants : Récit des abus sexuels dans les pensionnats amérindiens du Québec, Daniel Tremblay
Daniel Tremblay a entrepris la tâche délicate d’explorer les zones obscures de l’histoire de ces pensionnats.  Grace à une recherche rigoureuse, il a rédigé cet imposant essai, non seulement pour décrire, mais aussi pour expliquer les traumatismes et les blessures qu’ont subis les communautés autochtones, de même que leur processus de guérison.

indianThe Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King [Français]
A history book with a conscience and sense of humour which explores the image of the Indian in popular culture and looks at the many attempts at cultural assimilation by Canadian and American institutions.

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance [DVD], directed by Alanis Obomsawin
In 1990, a confrontation propelled issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Quebec, into the international spotlight. Obomsawin spent 78 days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. This powerful documentary takes you into the midst of an age-old struggle, showing how the Mohawk community was fighting not just against the expansion of a golf course, but for autonomy and the future of their culture.

Kiss of the Fur Queen, Tomson Highway
Born in northern Manitoba, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis are all too soon torn from their family and thrust into the hostile world of a residential school. Their language is forbidden, their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and both boys are abused. As young men, estranged from their own people and alienated from the culture imposed upon them, the brothers fight to survive. Highway fuses Indigenous story-telling techniques with European narrative form to create an engaging, funny, passionate, and triumphant novel.

oneThey Called Me Number One, Bev Sellars
Written by a residential school survivor and Chief of the Xat’sull First Nation, this book is a memoir of living through state mandated residential school. Sellars documents the abuse she experienced at the hands of the school staff and the lifelong effects of living with the trauma of this experience.

Rabbit Proof Fence [DVD], directed by Philip Noyce
Based on a true story, this feature film shows the impact of Australia’s “Stolen Generation” — the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Three young girls are taken by government agents and sent to a camp 1500 miles away.  After they escape, they must elude the authorities on a dangerous journey along the rabbit-proof fence that bisects the continent and will lead them home.


Stickin’ to the Union: Local 2224 vs. John Buhler, Doug Smith
When John Buhler bought Versatile Tractor he provoked a strike by demanding a gutting of benefits and seniority provisions. The union surprised everyone by charging Buhler with bargaining in bad faith – and winning.

When the State Trembled: How A.J. Andrews and the Citizens’ Committee Broke the Winnipeg General Strike, Reinhold Kramer & Tom Mitchell
The Citizens’ Committee was formed by Winnipeg’s business elite to break the General Strike of 1919. They strategized with the government of the time to portray the strike as a criminal action and later prosecute its leaders on charges of sedition.

Political & Legal Freedoms

leguinThe Dispossessed, Ursula Le Guin [Français]
Shevek, a brilliant physicist, is striving to reunite two civilizations that have been separated by hatred since long before he was born. The Dispossessed is a penetrating examination of society and humanity — and one man’s undertaking to question the unquestionable.

Escape From Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, Blaine Harden [Français]
No one born and raised in North Korea’s political prison camps is known to have escaped –  except Shin Dong-hyuk. Escape From Camp 14 unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s imprisonment and his astounding getaway.

Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, Michelle Shephard
A prize-winning journalist tells the troubling story of Omar Khadr, who spent half of his young life growing up in Guantanamo Bay’s military prison and now remains in federal prison in Canada. His story illustrates how the lack of due process can create victims and lead to retribution instead of justice. An essential read for those wanting to understand how the world changed after 9/11 and how fear has trumped fundamental rights.

weiweiAi Weiwei: Never Sorry [DVD], directed by Alison Klayman
This documentary chronicles artist and activist Ai Weiwei as he prepares for a series of exhibitions and gets into an increasing number of clashes with the Chinese government, from the close of the 2008 Beijing Olympics (for which he helped design the acclaimed “Bird’s Nest” stadium) to his arrest and 81-day detention in 2011.

The Holocaust

C’est arrivé, Piera Sonnino
En 2004, un manuscrit, tapé à la machine en 1960, conservé pendant près d’un demi-siècle, a été retrouvé par une des filles de P. Sonnino. C’est le témoignage personnel de l’auteure, seule survivante d’une famille de 8 (père, mère et enfants) qui tous périrent dans les camps de concentration nazis. C’est aussi le récit bouleversant d’une famille, unie dans l’adversité.

mausMaus: A Survivor’s Tale, Art Spiegelman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive, shocking us out of any lingering sense of familiarity. A haunting tale within a tale, Vladek Spiegelman’s harrowing story of survival is woven into the author’s account of his strained relationship with his aging father.

Night, Elie Wiesel [Français]
A candid, horrific, and deeply poignant account of Wiesel’s survival as a teenager in the Nazi death camps. Night offers much more than a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald; it also eloquently addresses many of the philosophical as well as personal questions implicit in any serious consideration of the Holocaust.

History of the Human Rights Movement

canadaA History of Human Rights in Canada: Essential Issues, edited by Janet Miron
Human rights, equality, and social justice are at the forefront of public concern and political debate in Canada.  Global events, especially the ‘war on terrorism,’ have fostered further interest in the abuse of human rights, especially when sanctioned or perpetuated by democratic governments.

Steps in the Rights Direction: Human Rights Celebrations & Tragedies That Inspired Canada and the World, Steven Hammond
You will be amazed, horrified, delighted and inspired by what you discover as you read about a human rights event for every day of the year. Even the acts of discrimination and worse will encourage you to try to do your part to make Canada and the world a better place.

Taking Liberties: A History of Human Rights in Canada, edited by Stephen Heathorn & David Goutor
Universal human rights are now considered a fundamental aspect of Canadian legal culture. However, Canada was surprisingly slow to adopt the rights revolution that followed the Second World War, and even when Canada did sign up, these rights were not all automatically put into practice. This collection sheds new lights on the bumpy road toward universal human rights in our diverse and complex country.

Interested in reading further? Ask at your local library branch, or take a look at this list of Teen Books on Human Rights, which has a lot to offer older readers as well.