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  • Mariah Wilson

5 Books to Read for National Indigenous History Month

Our reading recommendations this month focus on learning about and acknowledging the history, culture, and traditions of different Indigenous, Inuit, and Metis Peoples across the country. This aligns with the National Indigenous History Month (June) as well as the National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21.


The Polar Bear Son: An Inuit Tale (1996)

Written and illustrated by Lydia Dabcovich

"A lonely old woman adopts, cares for, and raises a polar bear as if he were her own son, until jealous villagers threaten the bear's life, forcing him to leave his home and his "mother," in a retelling of a traditional Inuit folktale." —Goodreads


Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox (2015)

Written and illustrated by Danielle Daniel

"In this introduction to the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, young children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a deer, beaver or moose. Delightful illustrations show the children wearing masks representing their chosen animal, while the few lines of text on each page work as a series of simple poems throughout the book." —Amazon Canada


The Train (2020)

Written by Jodie Callaghan and illustrated by Georgia Lesley

"Ashley meets her great-uncle by the old train tracks near their community in Nova Scotia. Ashley sees his sadness, and Uncle tells her of the day years ago when he and the other children from their community were told to board the train before being taken to residential school where their lives were changed forever. They weren't allowed to speak Mi'gmaq and were punished if they did. There was no one to give them love and hugs and comfort. Uncle also tells Ashley how happy she and her sister make him. They are what give him hope. Ashley promises to wait with her uncle by the train tracks, in remembrance of what was lost." —Calgary Public Library


Phyllis's Orange Shirt (2019)

Written by Phyllis Webstad and illustrated by Brock Nicol

"Phyllis's Orange Shirt is an adaptation of The Orange Shirt Story which was the best selling children's book in Canada for several weeks in September 2018. This true story also inspired the movement of Orange Shirt Day which could become a federal statutory holiday. When Phyllis was a little girl she was excited to go to residential school for the first time. Her Granny bought her a bright orange shirt that she loved and she wore it to school for her first day. When she arrived at school her bright orange shirt was taken away. This is both Phyllis Webstad's true story and the story behind Orange Shirt Day which is a day for us all to reflect upon the treatment of First Nations people and the message that 'Every Child Matters'. Adapted for ages 4-6." —Calgary Public Library


Fiddle Dancer, Li Daanseur Di Vyaeloon (2007)

Written by Wilfred Burton and Anne Patton, translated by Norman Fleury, and illustrated by Sherry Farrell Racette

"Fiddle Dancer tells the tale of a young Métis boy, Nolin, and his growing awareness of his Métis heritage and identity while his “Mooshoom” or grandfather, teaches him to dance. Authors Wilfred Burton and Anne Patton masterfully weave a childhood story rich in Métis culture and language. This delightful story captures the importance of Elders as role models, a child’s apprehension at learning new things, and the special bond between grandparents and children. Sherry Farrell Racette provides many beautiful illustrations for the book." —Gabriel Dumont Institute



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