FIRST NATION PUBLIC LIBRARIES
FIRST NATION COMMUNITIES READ AWARDS
First Nation Communities READ Awards 2020/21
Toronto September 24, 2020 – First Nation Communities READ 2020-2021 announces the selected titles in the Children’s and Young Adult/Adult Categories. Chosen by a jury of Indigenous librarians from across Ontario, these titles represent the very best of Indigenous literature. The selected titles will be recognized on-line at the Virtual Word on the Street Festival in Toronto on Sunday, September 27, 2020
Please contact Nancy Cooper for more information.
- Crow Winter by Karen McBride. Published by Harper Collins Publishers Ltd.
- Chasing Painted Horses by Drew Hayden Taylor. Published by Cormorant Press
- If I Go Missing by Brianna Jonnie and Nahanni Shingoose. Published by James Lorimer and Company
- In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott. Published by University of Regina Press
- A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliott. Published by Doubleday Canada
- I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas. Published by Nimbus Publishing
- When We Had Sled Dogs by Ida Tremblay. Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
- E Meshkwadooniged Mitig/The Trading Tree by Nancy Cooper. Published by Prince’s Trust Canada
- Sus Yoo The Bear’s Medicine by Clayton Gauthier. Published by Theytus Books
- Neekah’s Knitting Needles by Odelia Smith and Sylvia Olsen. Published by Sono Nis Press
Click on each year to learn more about the nominees and winners:
2019/20 Young Adult and Adult
Tilly and the Crazy Eights by Monique Gray Smith
Published by Second Story Press
An unexpected journey can be powerful medicine. When Tilly receives an invitation to help drive eight elders on their ultimate bucket list road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow, she impulsively says yes. Before she knows it, Tilly has said goodbye to her family and is behind the wheel – ready to embark on an adventure that will transform her in ways she could not predict, just as it will for each and every one of the seniors on the trip, who soon dub themselves ‘the Crazy Eights.’
Spirit Bear: Fishing for Knowledge, Catching Dreams by Cindy Blackstock
Published by First Nations Child & Family Caring Society
Spirit Bear is off on another adventure! Join him as he travels to meet with his Uncle Huckleberry and learn about traditional knowledge and Residential Schools. Then go with him to visit Algonquin territory where children teach him about Shannen’s Dream. Spirit Bear and his new friends won’t stop until Shannen’s Dream of ‘safe and comfy schools’ comes true for every First Nations student.
2018/19 Young Adult and Adult
This is the story about seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The students were far away from home, forced to attend school in the northern city and were ultimately found dead in the region.
The story of a determined Ojibwe Grandmother (Nokomis) Josephine Mandamin and her great love for Nibi (water). Nokomis walks to raise awareness of our need to protect Nibi for future generations, and for all life on the planet.
2017/18 Young Adult and Adult
Bearskin Diary is the story of Sandy, one of thousands of Aboriginal children taken from their families by provincial governments during what is now referred to as the “60’s Scoop”. Sandy’s journey is one of tragedy and triumph, rage and celebration. Raw and honest, Bearskin Diary gives voice to a generation of First Nations women who have always been silenced, at a time when movements like Idle No More call for a national inquiry into the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Carol Daniels adds an important perspective to the Canadian literary landscape.
Michael Arnott, illustator of Spirit Bear, won First Nation Communities Read's competition this year.
Spirit Bear follows the adventures of of Annuk, a little spirit bear cub growing up in BC's Great Bear Rainforest. Annuk learns what it means to be different when he discovers his fur is white instead of black like the rest of his family. Then one day, while testing his fishing skills, he slips and falls into the river and is swept downstream, far from the safety of his mother. Alone and lost, Annuk must find his way home through the predators of the rainforest. Along the way, he meets a young sea wolf cub named Kaya, who knows the forest well and helps him summon his courage and his wits to find his way home again.
2015/16 Young Adult and Adult
Peace Pipe Dreams, the Truth about Lies about Indians, written by Darrell Dennis is a well written myth busting book. Darrell aims to debunk several misconceptions about First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people in this sometimes humorous, always truthful book. The book is an important one that dispels myths and untruths about Aboriginal people in Canada today and sets the record straight. Dennis tackles such complicated issues such as religion, treaties, and residential schools with knowledge, tact, and humour, leaving readers with a greater understanding of our complex Canadian history.
Wild Berries is bilingual (English and ndialect Cree or Swampy Cree from the Cumberland House area). Pakwa che Menisu is Cree only (n-dialect from the Cross Lake, Norway House area).
First Nation Communities Read acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for this project.
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-55365-402-5
Indian Horse, a novel that is uniquely Aboriginal in voice, spirit, and substance, is the story of Saul Indian Horse. Readers meet Saul as an adult and travel, with him, back through his childhood, youth, and early adulthood as he seeks to come to terms with a past that threatens his present and future. Saul’s story is riveting as it unspools through life on the land, family displacement, residential school isolation, affirmation/self preservation in sport (hockey), betrayal, abasement, and a wandering that leads, ultimately, to the beginnings of a restoration of spirit and self.
Shannen and the Dream for a School is the true account of Shannen Koostachin, the people of Attawapiskat, and an ongoing fight for a new school. In 1979, a fuel leak contaminated and caused the closures of the elementary school in Attawapiskat, a Cree community in northern Ontario. Years later, in 2008, with Attawapiskat’s children still attending school in woefully inadequate portables, 13-year-old Shannen and her grade-eight classmates decided to challenge the situation. Their efforts resulted in national and international attention that, arguably, influenced the Canadian government to take action when it was disinclined to act. This tribute to youth activism is impactful and inspirational reading for readers of all ages.
Fatty Legs: A True Story introduces eight-year-old Olemaun (later known as Margaret) Pokiak, an Inuit girl from Banks Island, Northwest Territories. Desperate to learn to read, she excitedly embraces the idea of going to a distant residential school, even in the face of her family's strong reluctance to send her. Fatty Legs deftly interweaves themes of independence and human dignity with those of oppression and bullying. The result is a rich, spirited, and inspirational account of Olemaun/Margaret's two years in Aklavik. Fatty Legs: A True Story adds an Inuit voice and experience to the residential school record in a text that is easily accessible to readers across generations.
Long Powwow Nights / Nuits de pow-wow written by David Bouchard & Pam Aleekuk. Illustrated by: Leonard Paul, Music by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Red Deer Press, 2009, ISBN 978-0-88995-427-4
This book takes you on a wonderful journey, honouring these mystical dancers who keep their traditions alive through dance and song. In its poetic verses, David Bouchard skillfully narrates the story of a mothers dedication to her roots and her efforts to impress upon her child the importance of culture and identity. The book is accompanied by a CD, which includes music by internationally acclaimed singer and songwriter, Buffy Sainte- Marie. It is bilingual in English and Mi'kmaq and is also available in French and Mi'kmaq.
This a story inspired by Ron Martins memory of a song and dance he and his siblings learned from their grandparents. Together, Olsen, Martin, and Charko draw readers into the loving relationship young Joey has with his grandmother.
Singing and dancing, Grandma teaches Joey about choices, attitude, and decision-making. With Grandma, Joey joyfully embraces the choices he faces each day. However, when Grandma becomes ill and dies, Joey feels alone and betrayed until he realizes how well Grandma has prepared him. He can be sad and angry or he can honour Grandma by practicing her teachings. There is a choice and he is responsible for making it!
Ancient Thunder is a visionary book celebrating wild horses and the natural world of the prairies. Using an extraordinary technique, Yerxa, an artist of Ojibway ancestry, makes paper look like leather so that his illustrations seem to be painted on leather shirts. Each shirt is accompanied by a rich song of praise for the wild horses that came to play such an important role in the lives of First Peoples.
This memoir is capable of speaking to young and old. Set in 1944, it recreates the summer Lawrence Loyie was ten years old, the last summer he spent with his Cree family before a Canadian government program forced him to attend residential school.
In this story about a cold winters night in Northern Ontario, contemporary sisters Allie and Alex (or Nimise and Nishiimi, the Ojibway names they call themselves) follow a family tradition and set out in search of the SkySpirits which their mother has assured them will come that very night.
When a storm uproots the Big Old Maple outside his house, Solomon, a young Tsimpshian boy, is devastated. Through the healing process of making a mask from its wood, he learns that the cycle of life continues.
This bilingual story is Book 2 of the Songs of the North Wind trilogy. During the summer months in northern Manitoba, Cree brothers Joe and Cody devise games from the natural world around them, including flying dragonfly kites that inspire the boys to dream of flying off into the northern sunset. Text is in English and Cree.
Ways that you and your library can participate in First Nation Communities READ:
- Brainstorm with colleagues to identify ways your library can participate in the First Nation Communities Read program.
- Make a commitment to participate in, at least, one way.
- Display the annual First Nation Communities Read poster if your library is included in a sponsored distribution of it. Or, purchase the poster if your library isn’t included in a sponsored distribution.
First Nation Communities READ acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for this project
For assistance with any of our services to First Nations libraries, please contact Nancy Cooper, Library Consultant.