Recently, federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, marked June as Indigenous Book Club Month (hashtag #IndigenousReads). The Minister’s goal is to get folks reading and talking about books (novels, plays, short stories, graphic novels, poetry!) written by First Nations, Métis, or Inuit peoples. We think this is a great idea of course and we know many Winnipeggers have already found their way to wonderful books written by Indigenous authors.
For example four of the nine On the Same Page titles have been #IndigenousReads. In 2009, the first On the Same Page title was the Beatrice Mosionier classic April Raintree. In 2013, Manitobans voted for Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water – an incredible anthology of Indigenous writing all rooted in the land that makes up our province. Katherena Vermette’s Governor General Award-winning book of poetry, North End Love Songs, was the public’s pick in 2015. This year Manitobans chose to honour and celebrate The Evolution of Alice by David Robertson. All of these books are, or are set to become, must-reads for Manitobans for years to come.
There’s lots that new – and even more to look forward to – by Indigenous writers from across the country. I eagerly anticipate âpihtawikosisân (Chelsea Vowel’s) forthcoming Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada. Her blog is packed with commentary, analysis, and explanations of current and historical issues related to Indigenous peoples.
Katherena Vermette’s novel, The Break, is coming out in September and is already getting a lot of well-deserved attention. On my poetry-to-read list is Marilyn Dumont’s recent title The Pemmican Eaters. I was so happy to learn that David Alexander Robertson has added to his terrific graphic novel series of biographies – Tales from Big Spirit – with The Chief: Mistahimaskwa.
Finally, from the North – a place most of us will only ever get to read about – is Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier’s non-fiction title The Right to Be Cold (what an excellent book title!).
These choices barely scratch the surface of the range of books written by Indigenous writers; I didn’t even get to children’s books! These titles – and many, many more – are available for Winnipeggers to read, enjoy, and learn from this month and all year round. We look forward to seeing you and helping you make your own #IndigenousReads pick!