National Indigenous History Month – Nonfiction Resources

This post serves as a companion piece (last in our 3-blog series) to Video Resources, and Fiction Picks written in celebration of National Indigenous History Month this June.

As we continue to celebrate and learn about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada throughout the month of June, nonfiction resources are great tools to further your understanding of a specific topic.

This post will outline three main information sources that you can use for research, to enhance your understanding, or simply satisfy your curiosity. A brief description will follow each source linked and towards the end of the post, you will find 5 recommended readings in case you need help starting off. 

Three Main Sources

  1. Indigenous Research Subject Guide 

This guide is a prime resource if you need help to begin your research within Indigenous studies. It encompasses an interdisciplinary approach to key topics in the historical, socio-political, and cultural dimensions of Indigenous life. 

With everything from keyword strategies, to recommendations, to great databases, this is the perfect place to begin your search for nonfiction resources. 

Our Top Picks:  

Library and Archives Canada offers treaty maps, virtual exhibitions and more

Indigenous Peoples of North America (Gale) is a great place to find primary sources from Canada. 

  1. Tools for Researchers 

This website not only highlights helpful search points in our catalogue where you can begin your reading but also features amazing recommendations for articles such as Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples by Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Kaandossiwin: How We Come to Know by Absalon, K (Minogiizhigokwe). 

  1. ​​e-Scholarship@McGill

This platform is an institutional digital repository that ensures that research produced at McGill is easily accessible, disseminated, and preserved for future interests – all the while maintaining researchers’ copyright. This is a great place to read scholarly articles and further your understanding of different topics related to Indigenous studies that are written by individuals in the McGill community.  You can keyword search exactly what you’re looking for using the search bar and learn about anything from using education as healing, to preserving Indigenous languages in universities to political theories on settler colonialism. 

Recommended Reads

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act: Helping Canadians Make Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples a Reality by Bob Joseph

Based on a viral article, 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act is the essential guide to understanding the legal document and its repercussions on generations of Indigenous Peoples, written by a leading cultural sensitivity trainer. Since its creation in 1876, the Indian Act has shaped, controlled, and constrained the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Peoples, and is at the root of many enduring stereotypes. This book comes at a key time in the reconciliation process when awareness from both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities is at a crescendo.

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Fighting for a hand to hold: confronting medical colonialism against indigenous children in Canada by Samir Shaheen-Hussain

Penned by a member of the McGill community, this book exposes the medical establishment’s role in the displacement, colonization, and genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada. Through meticulously gathered government documentation, historical scholarship, media reports, public inquiries, and personal testimonies, Shaheen-Hussain connects the draconian medevac practice with often-disregarded crimes and medical violence inflicted specifically on Indigenous children. 

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Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

As a botanist and professor of plant ecology, the author has spent a career learning how to ask questions of nature using the tools of science. As a Potawatomi woman, she learned from elders, family, and history that the Potawatomi, as well as a majority of other cultures indigenous to the Americas, consider plants and animals to be our oldest teachers. In this book, she brings these two lenses of knowing together to reveal what it means to see humans as “the younger brothers of creation.”

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Unsettling Canada : a national wake-up call by Arthur Manuel and Ronald Derrickson

As the son of George Manuel, who served as president of the National Indian Brotherhood and founded the World Council of Indigenous Peoples in the 1970s, Arthur Manuel was born into the struggle. From his unique and personal perspective, as a Secwepemc leader and an Indigenous activist who has played a prominent role on the international stage, Arthur Manuel describes the victories and failures, the hopes and the fears of a generation of activists fighting for Aboriginal title and rights in Canada.

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A mind spread out on the ground by Alicia Elliott

A bold and profound work by Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott, A Mind Spread Out on the Ground is a personal and critical meditation on trauma, legacy, oppression and racism in North America. In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight and understanding to the ongoing legacy of colonialism. What are the links between depression, colonialism and loss of language–both figurative and literal?

This blog is co-authored by Tamanna Patel and Vanja Lugonjic

National Indigenous History Month – Fiction Picks

A Glimpse into McGill Library’s Indigenous Fiction Titles and Where to Find Them

This post serves as a companion piece (second in our 3-blog series) to National Indigenous History Month – Video Resources, written in celebration of National Indigenous History Month this June.

During this month, there is a nationwide celebration of the remarkable heritage, history and achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. What better way to commemorate the rich history of storytelling prevalent in various Indigenous cultures than through the power of Indigenous literature!

With that in mind, we have curated the following list of fiction titles from our collections that bring out the distinct flavours of Indigenous literature. Simply click on the book covers to access the titles!

These works and more can be found on the McGill Library website:

Split Tooth by Tanya Tagaq

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, friendship, and her parents’ love. She knows boredom, listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits surrounding her and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. 

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

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Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine. Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel the rez, unravelling clues from ancient legends, trading favours with tricksters, and battling dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

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Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Saul Indian Horse has hit bottom. His last binge almost killed him, and now he’s a reluctant resident in a treatment centre for alcoholics, surrounded by people he’s sure will never understand him. But Saul wants peace, and he grudgingly comes to see that he’ll find it only through telling his story. With him, readers embark on a journey back through the life he’s led as a northern Ojibway, with all its joys and sorrows.

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Ravensong: a novel by Lee Maracle

Set in an urban Native American community on the Pacific Northwest coast in the early 1950s, Ravensong is a story about Stacey, who must balance her family’s traditional ways against white society’s intrusive values.

It is by turns damning, humorous, inspirational, and prophetic.

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Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

A groundbreaking mix of Haida imagery and Japanese manga, Red tells the story of the eponymous hero, the prideful leader of a small village in the islands off the northwest coast of British Columbia. His sister was abducted years ago by a band of raiders. When news comes that she has been spotted in a nearby village, Red sets out to rescue his sister and exact revenge on her captors. Tragic and timeless, it is reminiscent of such classic stories as Oedipus Rex and Macbeth

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Another “book bank” where you can explore indigenous fiction titles is McGill Library’s Overdrive. These are some of the enthralling titles available there!

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Broken-hearted Joan has been searching for her husband, Victor, for almost a year–ever since he went missing on the night they had their first serious argument. One terrible, hungover morning in a Walmart parking lot in a little town near Georgian Bay, she is drawn to a revival tent where the local Métis have been flocking to hear a charismatic preacher named Eugene Wolff. By the time she staggers into the tent, the service is over. But as she is about to leave, she hears an unmistakable voice. She turns, and there Victor is. The same face, the same eyes, the same hands. But his hair is short and he’s wearing a suit and he doesn’t recognize her at all.

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This Place by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm

Explore the last 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in the graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through magic realism, serial killings, psychic battles, and time travel. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact.

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Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention. Alone and without any skills, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

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Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

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Jonny Appleseed by Joshua Whitehead

Off the reserve and trying to find ways to live and love in the big city, Jonny becomes a cybersex worker who fetishizes himself in order to make a living. Self-ordained as an NDN glitter princess, Jonny has one week before he must return to the “rez,” and his former life, to attend the funeral of his stepfather. The next seven days are like a fevered dream: stories of love, trauma, sex, kinship, ambition, and the heartbreaking recollection of his beloved kokum (grandmother). Jonny’s world is a series of breakages, appendages, and linkages–and as he goes through the motions of preparing to return home, he learns how to put together the pieces of his life.

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And that is it for some of our top fiction picks for National Indigenous History Month.

Happy Reading! And keep an eye out for the last in our 3-blog series where we highlight a range of non-fiction Indigenous resources for you!

Redpath Book Display: Summer Fling With A Book

Summer is all about tanning in the sweltering sun, while sipping on your margarita with some Ray Bans on. Sounds picture perfect, doesn’t it? But do you know what’s missing? A short, cool, no-strings-attached romance for the break.

At the Humanities and Social Studies Library (HSSL) we’re taking the Blind Date with A Book concept a step further. This summer is the season of online dating, and no one wishes to go through the utter surprise (we’ve had enough of those the past few years, thanks) of an unknown pick, we want eyes meeting across the club but better, blind dating but safer, happily ever after but shorter, and so we present to you our new Redpath Book Display; Summer Fling with a Book.

After hours of deliberation and a stringent system of elimination, we’ve handpicked a range of the best books from our collections as your potential dates for the summer. Whether you’re into the thrilling feels of leather jacket baddies with a mysterious past, the butterflies that come with spectacled sweeties across the driveway, or both, we’ve got just the selection for you. 

Since we don’t want to leave you too in the dark, each book has hand-drawn dating profiles to help you find your perfect match (for the summer, of course). Moreover, we have a small guessing game for you, besides the potential book dates, you’ll also find mood boards with the aesthetic of some famous novels for you to guess and win a prize!

And for all those of you who prefer online dating – oops, our bad, reading – worry not, we’ve got you covered as well. Just click here to access the Redpath Book Display guide’s virtual page on Summer Fling With a Book and find the right match for you. Mind you, the choices here are much more exclusive, so hurry before you lose a chance to meet your soulmate! 

Go swipe right on your perfect match at the Redpath Book Display today!