Books, Canada, Diverse Voices, History, Indigenous & First Nations Peoples, Social Justice

Truth and Reconciliation

Truth and Reconciliation

Originally published September 2023

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, recognized annually on September 30th, is a day to raise awareness and reflect on the lasting impacts of the residential school system in Canada, while also honouring its survivors, their families, and the children who were lost forever. Also known colloquially as Orange Shirt Day, it calls for Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, governments, schools, and communities to come together in the spirit of reconciliation and healing.

The orange shirts worn on this day symbolize the loss of Indigenous culture, self-expression, and fundamental human rights, but are also meant to promote remembrance and teach us that Every Child Matters. To help you generate meaningful discussions in your school and classroom on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and moving forward, we’ve compiled a list of 10 new and upcoming books about Indigenous history, culture, and resilience. 

Amazing L’nu’k: A Celebration of the People of Mi’kma’ki
By Julie Pellissier-Lush and Robin Grant
Illustrated by James Bentley
Nimbus Publishing (June 2023)
Grade Level: 3–6

Begin or continue your journey of learning through the inspirational stories of the people of Mi’kma’ki. This full-colour illustrated book features athletes, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs (and more), championing the Mi’kma’ki culture and their achievements.

Biindigen! Amik Says Welcome
By Nancy Cooper
Illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Owlkids (March 2023)
Grade Level: K–1

Join Amik the beaver who is anticipating the arrival of her cousins—however, she soon discovers that her little sister Nishiime is missing. As the beavers come together to search for Nishiime, they meet many other members of the forest community, all of whom are introduced using their Anishinaabe names. This heartwarming story highlights the importance of embracing diversity and celebrating Indigenous perspectives.

A Girl Called Echo Omnibus
By Katherena Vermette
Illustrated by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk
Portage & Main Press (October 2023)
Grade Level: 8–12

Echo Desjardins is a Métis teenager who falls into a time portal during a history lesson and travels to the past. Over the course of the four books in this omnibus, she experiences pivotal moments in Métis history, such as the Red River Rebellion and the North-West Resistance. This book is a re-introduction to the transformative history of this land that we now know as Canada.

Indigenous Ingenuity: A Celebration of Traditional North American Knowledge
By Deidre Havrelock and Edward Kay
Christy Ottaviano Books (May 2023)
Grade Level: 3–7

This fun and interactive non-fiction book is brimming with STEM topics and easy experiments for kids. In Indigenous Ingenuity, readers will learn about the wide range of scientific discoveries and inventions that have been made by Indigenous North Americans throughout history, while also celebrating the importance of environmental responsibility and the interconnectedness of all living things. Be sure to also check out the corresponding Teaching Tips document.

This young adult version of Suzanne Methot’s award-winning book Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing provides a thought-provoking exploration of the legacy of colonization on Indigenous communities. It delves into the long-lasting effects of trauma, but also foregrounds Indigenous resilience by sharing stories of young people who have started on their own healing journeys. Through these powerful accounts of decolonization, transformation, and change, readers will gain a deeper understanding of the complex challenges still faced by Indigenous communities today. 

The Little Folk
By Levi Illuitok
Illustrated by Steve James
Inhabit Media (September 2023)
Grade Level: 1–3

Through The Little Folk, Elder Levi Illuitok shares the traditional Inuit tale of a boy who is adopted by inugarulliit—small Arctic people with magical abilities. This whimsical story gives readers a glimpse into the rich storytelling culture of the Inuit, while simultaneously preserving an oral history that may otherwise have been lost.   

My Powerful Hair
By Carole Lindstrom
Illustrated by Steph Littlebird
Abrams Books for Young Readers (March 2023)
Grade Level: K–2

Hair is a representation of self-expression and empowerment in many Indigenous communities. In My Powerful Hair, a young girl can’t wait to grow her hair long, as it strengthens her connection with her family, culture, the earth, and herself. Join her in celebrating the strength and resilience of Indigenous cultures and the ancestry of those who came before.

Orange Shirt Day: September 30th
By Phyllis Webstad and the Orange Shirt Society
Medicine Wheel Publishing (August 2023)
Grade Level: 5–12

Designed to introduce older readers to the history of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation/Orange Shirt Day, this book aims to promote the message that Every Child Matters. It delves into a number of important topics, including the generational impacts of residential schools. Orange Shirt Day also includes reflection questions at the end of each chapter, encouraging readers to consider how they are participating in residential school reconciliation.

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Inuit Relocations
By Frank James Tester and Krista Ulujuk Zawadski
James Lorimer & Company (November 2023)
Grade Level: 8–12

This book is an exploration of the painful history of colonialism and racism in Canada, and the obstacles encountered by Inuit families who were forced into moving to the High Arctic. With its kid-friendly, visual, and informative style, this book grants young readers a deeper comprehension of what it means to confront widespread prejudice, while also looking at the intricacies involved in the Inuit community’s ongoing pursuit of recovery and rejuvenation.

The Secret Pocket
By Peggy Janicki
Illustrated by Carrielynn Victor
Orca Book Publishers (April 2023)
Grade Level: 1–3

The Secret Pocket narrates a tale of survival, bravery, and quiet resistance in the face of injustice. It tells the true story of young Indigenous girls at a residential school who sewed pockets into their skirts to conceal food. Using sewing skills passed down through generations, these children demonstrated remarkable strength and resilience, despite the cruelty they endured.