To help celebrate this day we are sharing some of the favourite books by Indigenous authors from some of our staff, members, and other book lovers in Alberta.
Kiss of the Fur Queen
When I was a young student during the first few years of the 21st century I came across many works of literature which I enjoyed but was still too stupid to fully comprehend. Kiss of the Fur Queen was one of these books. It is probably one of the most exciting and joyful first chapters of a book I have ever read. It has stayed with me still after all these years.
I also studied the Rez Sisters in university but never saw it performed as a play like it was intended. I thoroughly enjoyed it and have been obsessed with Nanabush and trickster figures ever since.
Jason Norman- WGA Programs and Events Coordinator
An astounding piece that opened a door for me – to a place I could never otherwise experience. Her rendering of the beauty of human hearts rising with empathy and expanding through tragedy is an exquisite journey. This book is a must-read. It is a bridge between disparate human experience – between the privileged, and the beautiful dignity of those who are forced to live invisibly. There are so many lessons here.
Douglas McCormick- Calgary
Moon of the Crusted Snow
Waubgeshig Rice’s short novel is a speculative fiction book about a small northern Anishinaabe community facing a looming Canadian winter after civilization around them has gone dark. When a white stranger shows up asking for refuge, the balance in the community is set off kilter as panic sets in. The book opens on a beautiful scene of a moose hunt told with precision and care that I have never come across as a reader before, and manages to just hint at a possible post-apocalyptic scenario while really just telling the story of the Anishinaabe people who thrived on Turtle Island before civilization, and will survive after it’s gone. Rice keeps the story at a thrilling pace, and I definitely caught myself gasping out loud more than once.
Oliva Latta- Edmonton
Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing My People (and Yours)
Harold R. Johnson
I read and recommend to everyone that I know “Firewater: How Alcohol Is Killing My People (and Yours)” by Harold R. Johnson. It’s a very interesting look into the alcohol abuse epidemic that affects many Indigenous communities, and goes into the history and sociological significance of substance abuse in a way that I wish was taught and explained to everyone. It opened my eyes to things I was ignorant of, and gave me a clear understanding of ways everyone can do their part to help.
Bobbi Farion- WGA Summer Program Assistant
Sundogs by Lee Maracle
kiyâm by Naomi McIlwraith
There are so many amazing books that I could mention, but I would start with Sundogs by Lee Maracle and kiyâm by Naomi McIlwraith. Sundogs is a brilliant story set against the backdrop of the Oka crisis told in an intensely personal narrative voice that has stayed with me since I first read it about 20 years ago. It’s the kind of novel that changes how you see the world. It’s deeply affecting. And kiyâm is a remarkable blend of languages and poetic forms. It’s instructive and gentle, poignant and profound. Reading it expanded my definition of poetry and loaned credibility to some of the forms I explore in my own writing. Naomi’s book is one I have read multiple times, and I always find my way to the end with gratitude.
Ellen Kartz- WGA Communications and Partnerships Coordinator
Medicine Shows: Indigenous Performance Culture
by Yvette Nolan
For those of you who enjoy literary and performing arts history, I recommend Medicine Shows: Indigenous Performance Culture by Yvette Nolan. Nolan gives an accessible history of contemporary Indigenous performance in Canada over the past three decades, including the successes of Indigenous artists and the challenges they still face. The book includes a bibliography of many plays by Indigenous playwrights to add your drama reading list–including plays by Dawn Dumont, who was one of The Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize shortlisted authors.
Gioriga Severini – WGA Program Coordinator/Operations Manager