Books and authors: A year of great reading in one Windspeaker list

Thursday, December 21st, 2023 9:13am


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From left to right: Cliff Cardinal, Jessica Johns, Albert D. Marshall and Beatrice Mosionier.


For last-minute gift-giving or for your own quiet time and good reading over the holidays, here’s a round-up of’s interviews with authors about their writing.

Memoir examines path from illegal adoption to finding herself as a “proud Mohawk woman”

Michelle Rice-Gauvreau, raised by a couple in Connecticut, thought that when she met her birth mother she would be saved. At 15 years old she traveled to Montreal and then to the Mohawk community of Kahnawake only to discover the fantasy she had been clinging to would not be the salve needed to heal her wounded soul.

Preserving Haida law through the seven steps of a wedding

A wedding in Haida law involves careful planning, consultation with Elders, and a connection to ancestral wisdom. Authors Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Robert Davidson were married in Haida ceremony in 1996. They have put together an account of that event to preserve Haida marriage rites that were, in the not-so-distant past, banned by Canadian legislation and church order.

Little People tales by author Arnold Isbister shared by Eschia Books

They are the kinds of stories told around the fire or the kitchen table. Stories of magic and mystery, tales that tease the imagination, tales that the old ones would tell because they knew them to be true. At least, that’s how it used to be.

Shakespeare ploy garners playwright a Governor General’s award

Readers will get more than they bargained for with William Shakespeare’s As You Like it, A Radical Retelling, which is this year’s winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award in the drama category. Playwright Cliff Cardinal lets loose a rant that’s been described as “blistering.” It’s part stand-up routine, part fool, part angry personal essay, and it spares no one.

New children’s book tackles the topic of death from the perspective of a Mi’kmaw artist

Some might think that the topic of the journey into the spirit world would be off-limits as a topic for a children’s book, but artist and author Alan Syliboy has seen the response from his audience when he sings the song the book is based on. He says many children have to deal with death. When the Owl Calls Your Name provides a Mikmaw perspective on it.

UCalgary’s writer-in-residence reaching up with one hand and pulling up with the other

Francine Cunningham, the writer-in-residence at the University of Calgary, is using her success and platform to bring the next generation of writers along. Her advice to Indigenous writers is for them to expand the genres they are working in and to not allow the industry to pigeonhole them. She’s got lots to share on the hows and whys of writing.

New book describes pipeline activism grounded in First Nations spiritual belief and ceremony

It Stops Here: Standing Up for Our Lands, Our Waters, and Our People chronicles the author’s experience in leading the Tsleil-Waututh Nation opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in British Columbia. But the story is much more than just about a pipeline. It’s about ancestral connection to the lands and waters and a West Coast people’s legal and spiritual systems.

Indigenous writers experiencing a shift with the publishing industry

Writing is hard work. Getting that hard work published is its own challenge. But there has been a shift when it comes to publishing the work of Indigenous writers. Take it from the writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta. Wayne Arthurson, who is of Cree and French-Canadian descent, has been in the business for more than 30 years and he’s witnessing change.

Courageously brave, determined Maggie Lou, Firefox leads young readers on adventures

Arnolda Dufour Bowes has created a new role model for readers in the name of Maggie Lou. Her family calls her Firefox because of her fierceness to try things that others might not think to do. The book is based on the Métis author’s own childhood, with bits and pieces taken from her own children’s exploits.

Book for young adults answers the questions that author didn’t get answered as a child in care

When author Wanda John-Kehewin worked in the Ministry of Children and Families she would hear children going into care ask the same questions she asked when she was in care, like ‘Why is my mom not here?’ Not hearing any answers still, John-Kehewin decided to write a book to provide them.

Rowdy Roddy Piper saves Pelee Island in new Lenape epic poem

In Lenape poet D.A. Lockhart’s newest collection North of Middle Island, the 16,000-word “Piper” describes in glorious wrestling terms the match between real-life archfoes Rowdy Roddy Piper, a heel-turned-hero, and Goldust (Nkuli Punkw), all while weaving in the Lenape legend of Deerwoman (Ahtuhxkwe) in a battle for Pelee Island.

Graphic novels weaves time travel with real life for a compelling look at Métis history, belonging

A four-part series about the adventures of a young girl named Echo Desjardin takes the reader back through time and space to the Pemmican Wars, the Red River Resistance, the Northwest Resistance, and to the Road Allowance era. It’s Métis history in graphic novel form with a superhero that makes important Indigenous history more accessible.

Book shows how a seed harvested and sown by the ancestors demonstrated love for future generations

A children’s book written for ages three to six tells the story of a child holding a single mnoomin seed and imagining the ecosystem that made the seed possible. It’s harvesting day and the family is making offerings of tobacco and collecting the seeds in their canoe. Some will be used for a feast while others will go back to replenish the field.

Every Child Matters book is written by Orange Shirt Day founder

Phyllis Webstad’s new book is titled Every Child Matters, a phrase tied inextricably to Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, and the movement Webstad founded to draw the country’s attention to the harms done to Indigenous children within the residential school system in Canada. Every Child Matters is for readers six years of age and older and is illustrated by Karlene Harvey, a member of Tsilhqot’in First Nation.

Métis author and illustrator work together to tell a tale of food security in new children’s book

Willie Poll’s second children’s book is titled Minnow: The girl who became part fish. It’s about a young Indigenous water protector who spent time cleaning up debris from the beaches and goes on an adventure to learn about the health of the oceans.

Author’s seminal novel remains relevant even after 40 years

Beatrice Mosionier wrote the novel In Search of April Raintree in 1983. Little did the author know what an impact that book would have. Four decades later, Highwater Press released a special 40th anniversary edition of the novel. Mosionier and her siblings were apprehended by child welfare in the earliest years of the Sixties Scoop. Her experience in the system formed the fictional account in April Raintree.

New book by Métis Nation of Alberta celebrates its citizens

The goal of publishing The True Canadians: Forgotten Nevermore is to provide Métis citizens in Alberta with their own version of history. It’s a love letter to the Métis people. The True Canadians provides a basic overall history of the challenges and accomplishments of Métis in what is widely considered the Métis homeland.

New children’s book by Kwantlen Nation author set for release

The Girl Who Loved the Birds is Joseph Dandurand’s third book. It’s about the life of a woman, from girl to Elder, and her ongoing relationship with birds. The Kwantlen First Nation member is a recent recipient of the B.C. Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence for his extensive list of published literature. He is the 2021 Griffin Poetry Prize recipient.

Two-eyed seeing concept captured vividly in new picture book for young children

Etuaptmumk, or two-eyed seeing, is a way to embrace all knowledges without losing traditional knowledge while interacting with the western world. Mi’kmaq Nation author and Elder Albert D. Marshall explores the concept in the children’s book Walking Together.

OId Gods are in the land, the rivers and in the animals too, says Métis author of new book of poetry

The pages of Conor Kerr’s newest collection of poetry are filled with emotional power. Old Gods captures childhood memories and feelings about his family and his connection to the prairie landscape. He wants non-Indigenous readers to critically think about the land they live on, and he wants Métis readers to create space for strengthening identity, culture and kinship.

Child of the foster system uses poetry to help heal from trauma

Joshua Jordan Heath, 21, has taken to the written word again to deal with the trauma of his young life. His first poetry chapbook, Shopping Cart Boy: Poems of My Life was shortlisted for a publisher’s award. It was dedicated to all the kids taken from their mothers. His second book Soul Rape Soul Rage springs from his experiences in foster care.

Graphic novel tells story of the spiritual journey of Cree-Métis teen

Damon Quinn has a mysterious connection to a crow and a new girl in school. He also has some trouble at home. He’s trying to keep his life under control and, well, some kind of normal. Dreams: Visions of the Crow is author Wanda John-Kehewin’s first graphic novel.

New book provides guide for Canadian businesses to make moral decisions on reconciliation

Business owners want to do the right thing when it comes to Call 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action in response to the legacy of Indian residential schools in Canada. It’s not about reaping economic benefits from doing the right thing, but is a moral obligation to make things right around the cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples, says the author of The Canadian Business Owner’s Guide to Reconciliation.

Strength of “aunty love” imbues debut horror novel centred on dreams

Bad Cree is the much-anticipated debut novel by Jessica Johns. The author turns up the mysticism in this fantasy horror story, allowing her main character to embrace her often disruptive dreams and to understand their importance. Some heart-stopping moments will thrill readers, though the author wants something more to resonate—the big love of families.

Author Wab Kinew reaches out to his young audience through their virtual world

The Everlasting Road is the second book in a two-book series by Wab Kinew. Yes, that Wab Kinew, the recently elected premier of Manitoba. The book comes two years after Walking in Two Worlds. The main character in both books is Bugz, an Anishnaabe girl, who lives on the Rez but occupies a virtual world as “the myth, the legend, the ruler.”


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