Tag Archives: On The Same Page

It’s time to get On The Same Page again

This annual project of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Winnipeg Public Library—now in its eighth year!—encourages all Manitobans to read, and talk about, the same book at the same time.

aliceThe book Manitobans chose to read this year is The Evolution of Alice by David Alexander Robinson. David’s novel tells the story of Alice, a single mother raising three young daughters after her abusive ex is jailed. With the help of her best friend, Gideon, she tries to create the best possible life for her family and help them heal from old wounds. When tragedy strikes, Alice is forced to examine her life and her role in the community. Woven together from multiple points of view, the novel shows the interconnection of Alice’s life.

What next? Borrow a copy of The Evolution of Alice from the library in print, ebook, accessible formats (via NNELS) or buy one at a local bookstore. We’ll also be distributing free copies through Manitoba public libraries and other organizations, so keep your eyes open.

Already read the book? Then watch our website (OnTheSamePage.ca) for more information—don’t forget to count yourself in the Reader’s Tally—and come check out these upcoming events!

On The Same Page Events

Join us Thursday, February 11, at 7 p.m. in the Marpeck Commons area of Canadian Mennonite University (2299 Grant Ave.) to hear a reading by David Robertson and to create paper airplanes carrying your own wishes or messages of hope – an activity inspired by The Evolution of Alice.

Deconstructing Alice
How does a group of linked short stories become a novel? David and his editor Warren Cariou will talk about the process of creating a coherent mosaic from narrative fragments. Hosted by Charlene Diehl.
McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Ave.)
Thursday, March 10: 7-8 pm

On The Same Page Windup
Readings and insights from the writer’s life from David and other celebrated On The Same Page authors including Beatrice Mosionier (In Search of April Raintree), Joan Thomas (Reading by Lightning), and Katherena Vermette (North End Love Songs). Four stellar authors all in one venue!
Millennium Library
Carol Shields Auditorium
Thursday, April 14: 7-8 pm


Getting On the Same Page: Manitoba’s Largest Book Club


Manitoba’s biggest book club is getting ready to choose what we will all be reading next year, and you can help pick the winner! On the Same Page, a project developed and run by The Winnipeg Foundation and Winnipeg Public Library, encourages all Manitobans to read and talk about the same book at the same time. There will be special events, author appearances and book giveaways throughout the winter. The choice has been narrowed down to 4 candidates, and voting closes on September 18, 2015. Between now and then you can vote for the title you’d like to see win by filling out a ballot at any of the branches of your Winnipeg Public Library system, or by simply voting online.

If you are not sure what to read this summer, picking up any of these four candidates would be a great idea. Although each of these candidates deal with serious, even tragic, subject matter, all of them have wonderful things to offer to those who discover them. I’m still undecided as to which one I’ll vote for, so if you need a little help, please read through these brief descriptions of each book. Hopefully we can get more people than ever before on the same page next year…


All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

“She wanted to die and I wanted her to live and we were enemies who loved each other”. Former Winnipegger Miriam Toews tells the powerful semi-autobiographical story of two sisters, Elfrieda and Yoli, who grew up together in a small Mennonite community outside of Winnipeg. Elf, who is a talented concert pianist, is also suffering from Depression and wants to end her life. Her sister, Yoli, is determined to find a way to help her sister through her illness and back to wellness, despite Yoli’s own crumbling personal life. Another masterpiece from Miriam Toews. It isn’t an easy read, but her ability to create such full and relatable characters is unmatched.

Detachment-cover-June11[1] Detachment: An Adoption Memoir by Maurice Mierau

In 2005, Maurice Mierau and his wife traveled to the Ukraine to adopt two young boys, aged 5 and 3. This book is their story of returning to Winnipeg and adjusting to life as a new family and the parallels the author draws from his own feelings of detachment towards his son and memories of his own emotionally distant father growing up. It is the only non-fiction candidate in this year’s OTSP’s program. Maurice Mierau was WPL’s Writer-in-Residence in 2010.

evolution of alice The Evolution of Alice by David Alexander Robinson

This novel tells the story of Alice, a single mother raising three young daughters on “the rez” after her abusive ex gets sent to the penitentiary. With the help of her best friend, Gideon, she tries to create the best possible life for her family and help them heal from old wounds. When tragedy strikes, Alice is forced to examine her life and her role in the community. Told from multiple points of view, the novel really underpins the interconnectivity of reservation life.

kiss_of_the_fur_queen[1] Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway

“Wars start when two parties haven’t taken the time to learn each other’s tongues” Tomson Highway’s magic realism comes through in the character of the Fur Queen, a wise, shape-shifting trickster character who weaves in and out of the lives of two Cree brothers, Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis. These boys are removed from their northern community and forced into the Residential School system, where their names are changed to Jeremiah and Gabriel, and who are abused by the Priests there. As young men, they no longer feel connected to their community, and yet also do not feel a part of the pervasive European culture. They are somewhere in between, and must find their own path away from their own past. They are survivors in every sense of the word.


New in Aboriginal Resources!

One of Winnipeg Public Library’s most in-demand collections is our Aboriginal Resources Collection.  The collection is made up of films and music, in addition to all the books.  There are materials for all ages: adults, teens and children.  A search of our catalogue today showed we currently have 3,990 titles in this collection.  (Pro tip:  to find out what’s in the collection go to the main page of our catalogue and select “Aboriginal Resources” from the drop down list on the far left.)  You can find items from this collection across the Library system.  Branches that have large amounts of these titles will have them highlighted and shelved separately for easy browsing.

Here’s a quick list of some recent purchases – both newer titles and some favourites that we’ve stocked up on again.

Just Pretending by Lisa Bird-Wilson

Just Pretending
From the summary: “At times haunting, at times hilarious, Just Pretending explores the moments in life that send us down pathways predetermined and not-yet-forged.”  Read a review of Just Pretending here. The 49th Shelf has a great interview with the author here.  The cover of Just Pretending features artwork by local artist KC Adams, whose stereotype-busting project Perception was in the news this past summer.


Playing the White Man’s Games by Don Marks

Playing the White Man's Games
From the summary: “Playing the White Man’s Games tells the extraordinary tales of Native American athletes who overcame tremendous obstacles to dominate the NFL, CFL, PGA, Olympic Games, NHL and professional wrestling.”  Local author Don Marks also writes a column for the Winnipeg Free Press.

Resistance and Renewal. Surviving the Indian Residential School by Celia Haig-Brown

Resistance and Renewal: Surviving the Indian Residential School
From the summary: “One of the first books published to deal with the phenomenon of residential schools in Canada, Resistance and Renewal is a disturbing collection of Native perspectives on the Kamloops Indian Residential School (KIRS) in the British Columbia interior.” Haig-Brown’s book is now in its ninth printing.  Visit the author’s page here.

The Moon Speaks Cree: A Winter Adventure by Larry Loyie
For children and families.

The Moon Speaks Cree

From publisher Theytus Books: “Learning the universal lessons of Aboriginal culture, young Lawrence rides his father’s long toboggan pulled by four eager dogs, invents a sliding machine that really works from his grandfather’s old steamer trunk, reconnects with his older brother and learns the secrets of winter survival from his parents and grandparents.”  The Library also has several other titles by Loyie.

Welcome Song For Baby: A Lullaby for Newborns by Richard Van Camp
For children and families.

Welcome Song for Baby: Lullaby for newborns

First published in 2007, this board book is definitely a favourite.  The rhythmic and soothing text is accompanied by photographic portraits of caregivers and infants.  You can find other Van Camp titles (for all ages) here.

Grandmother Ptarmigan by Qaunaq Mikkigak
For children and families.

Grandmother Ptarmigan

From the summary: “A sing-song parable that serves as an introduction to traditional Inuit stories. It’s bedtime for baby ptarmigan, but he will not go to sleep. So his grandmother decides to tell him a bedtime story that he will never forget.” Grandmother Ptarmigan is a story re-told by Cape Dorset elder Qaunaq Mikkigak.

And last but not least we’ve recently purchased many copies of this year’s On the Same Page – Manitoba’s Biggest Book Club selected title: North End Love Songs by Katherena Vermette.

North End Love Songs

This debut book also won Vermette the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry.  You can read a recent interview with Vermette here and watch a video of the 2012 Winnipeg launch of the book here. In January and February we will be featuring all kinds of programming with Katherena Vermette and inspired by the themes in North End Love Songs.  Be sure to download or pick up a copy of our January/February @ the Library newsletter – available in late December.  And don’t forget to add yourself to our Reader’s Tally and encourage everyone you know to pick up this wonderful book!


On The Same Page 2014-15: it’s time to choose your adventure

“On The Same Page” is the province’s biggest book club (now in its seventh year) during which we invite all Manitobans to read and talk about the same book at the same time.

Check out the four works on the shortlist below, and help decide which one every Manitoban should read! Once the title is selected – as voted on by youbook giveaways, author appearances, and other special events get underway in late 2014 and early 2015.

Voting continues until Monday, September 15. You can vote online at www.onthesamepage.ca, or by paper ballot at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue) and any of our twenty Winnipeg Public Library branches.

Whenever you vote, be sure to enter your name to win a prize package of the four nominated books. You’ll also be able to meet the creators in person at a celebration of the shortlist titles at McNally Robinson on Thursday, September 11 at 7 pm.

footeImagining Winnipeg : history through the photographs of L.B. Foote by Esyllt W. Jones.




northendNorth End love songs by Katherena Vermette





stuckStuck in the middle : dissenting views of Winnipeg by Bartley Kives & Bryan Scott




wittenbergsThe Wittenbergs by Sarah Klassen





A leap of faith rewarded

Below, author Anne Mahon talks about why she wrote The Lucky Ones and how doing so affected her life and others’. For your chance to meet Anne and some of the people whose stories are included in the book or to take part in other events during January & February, see this list of On The Same Page events.


Anne Mahon“Our lives make no sense if we are not helping others.” I first heard these inspiring words while interviewing refugee Muuxi Adam in 2007. When I heard them, something inside me noticeably shifted. I could feel their importance physically–like my cells instinctively understood something at a deeper level than my mind could make sense of–and I knew then that writing this book and listening to refugees’ stories would be a pivotal experience.

Seven years later, Great Plains Publications published my first book The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Extraordinary Courage. In May 2013, it was launched with 250 supporters and great celebration at McNally Robinson Booksellers. In September, the book was chosen for the 2013-14 On The Same Page program, sponsored by the Winnipeg Library and The Winnipeg Foundation.

The Lucky Ones is a collection of 17 powerful stories of refugees’ personal experiences in Africa, as well as in Canada. The book creates a mosaic of stories of tragedy and loss, as well as human triumph, told with matter-of-fact dignity that has elicited compassion from readers. Themes include gratitude, survival, the life-changing importance of education and the need to be valued. The three goals of the book are to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges of refugees; honor refugees and their place in Canadian society; and philanthropically raise funds for two Winnipeg charities that assist newcomers.

My life has changed meaningfully since beginning the book. Before, I knew only one refugee. Now, not only have I come to know the courageous subjects, but the book has also been an introduction to new associations with a greater community that cares passionately for and about refugees. When I began work on the book, I also started volunteering in adult English classes at Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM). It’s now my 7th year in the classroom, and I continue to be energized and my life enriched by the connections I make while helping students there.

Muuxi, the man I referred to in the introduction, has founded Humankind International, a charity committed to building an early years school in Dadaab the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya. He asked a number of us to be founding board members three years ago. After considerable commitment, the school will open later this month.

The subjects’ repeated gratitude for peace and acceptance in Canada has made me a prouder Canadian, more grateful for the many things I take for granted, and grounded me during my daily challenges.

By taking a leap of faith to write this book, my life has been invigorated and transformed. Ten years ago, just as knowing refugees was not a common part of my life, neither was writing. After completing The Lucky Ones, I missed the creative process of writing so much that I am currently researching my second book. I have a newfound belief, best explained by a quote from The Lucky Ones: “The resilience of the subjects in this book, as well as this book’s creation, have taught me this: we should never limit our expectations to the boundaries of what we already know.”

– Anne Mahon

Share this book

Manitobans have spoken! You’ve picked the book that you want to read for On The Same Page from our 2013-14 shortlist. With generous funding from The Winnipeg Foundation and the enthusiastic participation of Manitoba libraries, bookstores and media, On The Same Page brings Manitobans together for a shared reading experience–it’s the province’s biggest bookclub.

It’s gratifying that each year, the number of votes continues to climb. This year the book hundreds of you voted for is The Lucky Ones: African Refugees’ Stories of Extraordinary Courage by Anne Mahon.

LuckyOnes_cover_finalIn this compelling collection, Anne has gathered the stories of refugees in their own words. Men and women ranging in age from 4 to 73, from a variety of African countries and backgrounds, talk about their former lives and how they came to build new ones here in Manitoba.

Anne’s interest in telling these stories grew out of her dedicated commitment to Canada’s newcomers. She has been involved in a variety of community organizations and was nominated for the  Lieutenant Governor’s Make a Difference Community Award for her volunteer service. She lives in Winnipeg with her husband and their three children.

What next? Borrow a copy of The Lucky Ones from the Library, or buy one at a local bookstore. We’ll also be giving away free copies soon, so keep your eyes open!

Have you already read the book? Then watch our website (OnTheSamePage.ca) for more information, and don’t forget to count yourself in the Reader’s Tally once it’s up.

Meanwhile, we’ll be busy putting together a Readers’ Guide, figuring out the best ways to distribute free copies across the province, and planning a wide range of events (including chances to meet Anne and some of the contributors to the book) in early 2014. Look for more in the Library’s January-February newsletter.


Last call to vote

So, have you had a chance to read some or all of the four “On The Same Page” shortlist titles? (On The Same Page, if you’re wondering, is the province’s biggest book club, during which all Manitobans are invited to read and talk about the same book at the same time.)

Whether you have or not, be sure to come down to meet all of the creators in person and hear them talk about their works at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 10 at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue).

sugarbush roadThe House on Sugarbush Road by Méira Cook (Enfield & Wizenty)
This story of the intertwining lives of a once prominent liberal Afrikaner family and Beauty Mapule, their domestic servant of more than thirty years, is set in post-apartheid Johannesburg shortly after the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela.

LuckyOnes_cover_finalThe Lucky Ones by Anne Mahon (Great Plains Publications)
In this compelling collection, refugees tell us in their own words about their former lives and how they came to build new ones in Manitoba. Hear the stories of men and women ranging in age from 4 to 73, from a variety of African countries and backgrounds.

7 Gen-cover7 Generations by David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (Highwater Press)
An epic graphic novel that follows one Aboriginal family over three centuries and seven generations as a young man learns about his family’s past in order to face the present and embrace the future.

no one must knowNo One Must Know by Eva Wiseman (Tundra Books)
In 1950s Winnipeg, Alexandra’s world is turned upside down when she discovers her parents’ secret: they are Jewish. Now Alexandra’s view of her family, of her friends, and of the society in which she lives is confused. Who is she and where does she really belong?

You might see a common theme or thread connecting these books, and you’d be right; all four give a voice to people who have been disadvantaged in some way. The diversity among them is just as strong, however: from a graphic novel combining the power of art and words to a book aimed at young adults (but enjoyed by all ages), from the fictional history of two South African families to the lived histories of new Canadians from Africa – each of these four books has its own unique style.

The last day to vote is coming up soon on Friday, September 13. Cast your vote online at www.onthesamepage.ca or by paper ballot at McNally Robinson and all twenty Winnipeg Public Library branches. And when you do, don’t forget to enter your name to win a prize package of all four books.

Once we tally the votes, we’ll announce the title chosen by YOU before the end of September – watch the On The Same Page website for the news. And in early 2014, book giveaways, author appearances, and other special events get underway…


Get out and vote for On The Same Page

The beginning of July is one of my favourite times of the year: Canada Day, the start of real summer in Manitoba (usually) – including strawberry season – plus, the  “On The Same Page” shortlist is announced and voting begins!

“On The Same Page” is the province’s biggest book club, now in its sixth year. All Manitobans are invited to read, and talk about, the same book at the same time. Once the title is selected – as voted on by you – book giveaways, author appearances, and other special events get underway.

All Manitobans now have a chance to read the four works on the shortlist and vote for the title they think should be chosen:

sugarbush roadThe House on Sugarbush Road by Méira Cook (Enfield & Wizenty)



LuckyOnes_cover_finalThe Lucky Ones by Anne Mahon (Great Plains Publications)



7 Gen-cover7 Generations by David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (Highwater Press)



no one must knowNo One Must Know by Eva Wiseman (Tundra Books)




Voting continues until Friday, September 13. You can vote online at www.onthesamepage.ca or by paper ballot at McNally Robinson and all twenty Winnipeg Public Library branches. When you vote, be sure to enter your name to win a prize package of the four nominated books!

You’ll also get a chance to meet the writers in person at a group reading from all four shortlist titles at McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue) at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 10.

I can’t wait to see which book is chosen for the 2013-14 edition of “On The Same Page.” Check back in mid-September to find out!


Celebrating Indigenous Literature in Manitoba

Centering Anishinaabeg Stories

Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko begins her book Ceremony by saying “If you don’t have the stories, you don’t have anything.”  Stories have the power to heal, to shape worldviews, to share information, pass on cultural teachings as well as to entertain.  Silko’s book was cited as one of the most important books in contemporary literature by renowned Native American author Sherman Alexie.   In the brand-new book Centering Anishinaabeg Studies, Anishinaabeg people’s stories are seen as having the answers to many issues experienced in communities and the world, they are “vessels of knowledge.”

June 21st is National Aboriginal Solidarity Day in Canada.  People across the country will be attending festivals.  Here in Winnipeg, there is a street festival on Selkirk Avenue (look for us!) in the vibrant North End and on Saturday – an all day festival at the Forks.  Earlier this spring Winnipeg Public Library saw the opening of the new Aboriginal Resources Area at the Millennium branch and on June 18th we celebrated Indigenous literature with the Aboriginal Writers Collective in honour of National Aboriginal Solidarity Day.  The celebration was a hit.  In case you didn’t know – there are so many talented writers in our community!

Below, I have included a selection of some suggested literature by Aboriginal authors who hail from Manitoba.

In Search of April Raintree This list would be severely lacking if this book wasn’t suggested. Beatrice Mosionier’s beautifully written story of two sisters who are taken from their parents by social services is one of our most requested books when we do community outreach.

7 Generations, a Plains Cree Saga If you haven’t heard of this graphic novel get yourself to the library and pick it up!  David Alexander Robertson and Scott Henderson have created graphic story of a young Aboriginal person who learns the story of his ancestors.

Kiss of the Fur Queen

Kiss of the Fur Queen A few years ago I met a woman who traveled to Manitoba from California after finding this book in a used bookstore.  She was seeking the author, Thomson Highway, and on her way to visit The Pas which is featured in the novel.  This is the kind of impact this book can have.  It is a powerful story of survival and the coming of age of two remarkable brothers who were forced to attend residential school.

Bone Memory  In 2004 the Aboriginal Writers collective put out this chapbook highlighting the work of different members of the collective.  We are looking forward to their next chapbook – being launched in the fall!

This is a small northern town

This is a Small Northern Town This book is a collection of poems by Cree writer Rosanna Deerchild centering on the experience of growing up as a girl in a small divided Northern Manitoba town.

Wolf and Shadows   Duncan Mercredi is one of the founding members of the Aboriginal Writers Collective and a poet in his own right.  This is one of his collections of poetry which confront the tensions between traditional knowledge and urban living.

All My Best

Joe From Winnipeg: All My Best Ian Ross, creator of the popular radio personality Joe from Winnipeg, put some of his favourite commentaries in this book.  It is a humourous take on some of those everyday issues we all wonder about including little dogs with nail polish.

Manitowapow  This book, edited by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Warren Cariou, was the On the Same Page winner this year.  It is full of incredible gems by Indigenous leaders, authors, activists and academics from the province of Manitoba.  Some of the stories were written a long time ago and some are more contemporary but they tell the (often untold) story of this place we call Manitoba.


Halfbreed  Maria Campbell spent a year as a writer in residence at the University of Winnipeg which of course makes her a honourary Winnipegger! Her memoir is still taught in schools and details the racism and sexism she experienced as a Metis woman.

Brothers in Arms  Among the various children’s books Jordan Wheeler has written (check them out in our Children’s section!) the three stories in this book are a recommended read for teens and adults.  They are the stories of two brothers and their experiences, struggles and successes as First Nations men.

I Knew Two Metis Women Gregory Scofield looks at the life of his mother and his adopted aunty through this collection of poems – a poetic biography.

Winnipeg Public Library’s collection of literature by Indigenous writers is growing and this list really only taps the surface of a huge number of titles which cross all genres, formats and defy all expectations!  Happy reading.


Celebrate Manitowapow with us


Manitowapow contributors
[Photo courtesy of Niigaanwewidam Sinclair]

On The Same Page 2012-13 continues! This annual project of The Winnipeg Foundation and the Winnipeg Public Library encourages all Manitobans to read, and talk about, the same book at the same time. We’ve been busy distributing free copies of the book Manitobans chose to read — Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water — across the province, and now it’s time for special events.

The Manitowapow “mini-tour” kicked off last week with a gathering at Millennium Library. Despite the -30 windchill there was a great turnout to hear Rosanna Deerchild and Duncan Mercredi read their funny, moving, and powerful works.

Join us tonight, Tuesday, January 29, in the Atrium of McNally Robinson Booksellers  at 7 p.m. to hear contributors Gregory Scofield & David McLeod. Then, Kate Vermette & David Robertson will be at Sir William Stephenson Library (765 Keewatin Ave.) on Tuesday, February 12 at 7 p.m.

The editors of Manitowapow, Warren Cariou & Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair, are joining us for each of these events. Warren and Niigaan will also be travelling to The Pas and Norway House in early February to host readings with contributors from those communities – watch Facebook for more!