The Millennium Library is pleased to host a very special author reading and talk by Tara Lee Morin on May 21. Tara Lee will read from and speak about her award-winning book As I Remember It which tells the story of her childhood growing up in care. In her own words, “This book was written by my memories, and yes, I would call it “testimonial” from social workers’ notes that were in my files.” (Read a recent interview with Tara Lee talking about her experience writing the book here.)
The book won second place in the 2013 (inaugural) Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature, sponsored by CODE. From the Award’s jury: “As I Remember It tells the story of the author’s own childhood and adolescence. She gives first-person insight into the issues and struggles faced by foster children and teens. She draws the reader in, with her unblinking portrait of a young girl who triumphs over rejection and abuse, thanks to her indomitable spirit and the efforts of a pair of unique foster parents.
Born in Northern Manitoba, and a foster child, Tara Lee Morin lives in a small town in northern B.C. She is currently writing a sequel to her memoir As I Remember It, as well as an illustrated children’s book about children entering foster care.”
The estimated number of Indigenous children in care in Manitoba is approximately 8,000 (this number is taken from the Manitoba Ombudsman’s Follow-up Report on the Process for the Review of Child Welfare and Collateral Services After the Death of a Child, March 2013) and so this reality directly impacts many people who live in Manitoba. But while the numbers of children involved are high, this issue often doesn’t get public attention until a specific tragedy occurs. One example is the death of Phoenix Sinclair which resulted in a major inquiry. Winnipeg Public Library has recently received copies of all 3 volumes of the Commission of Inquiry’s report and they are available for borrowing.
For those wanting to learn more about First Nations (and, to a certain extent, Métis) children in care in Manitoba this information sheet (2011) from the Canadian Child Welfare Information Portal, by Anna Kozlowski, Vandna Sinha, Tara Petti, & Elsie Flette, provides a good, basic overview (there is also a list of references for further reading).
The classic fiction book about this issue is, of course, April Raintree, still hugely in demand more than 25 years after its first release. You may also be interested in author Beatrice Mosionier’s autobiography Come Walk With Me, as a great companion to her novel. Beyond April Raintree, readers may also enjoy Flight: A Novel by Sherman Alexie or the graphic novel Lighting Up the Darkness by Stephen Keewatin Sanderson. For young children, try the picture book The Moccasins by Earl Einarson.
Of course one of the best ways to learn about such a complex topic is to listen to a first-hand account, so we do hope you will join us May 21, 7-8 p.m. at the Millennium Library, 2nd floor Aboriginal Resources Area to listen to Tara Lee Morin’s story, ask questions and share your own thoughts. The program is free and there will be a draw to win copies of Tara Lee’s book and other Burt Award-winning titles. We thank CODE and the Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature for supporting this program.