Translated by Valerie Henitiuk and Marc-Antoine Mahieu
50 years after the initial publication, this Canadian classic set in the far north has been newly translated directly from Inuktitut, in consultation with Patsauq. Patsauq originally translated his own syllabics into English, but that text was then edited to make it more of a children‘s story (which is how I remember it). Told in shifting perspectives, this new edition, only about 65 pages long, has cinematic energy and a powerful dignity.
“Twenty days, I think, if we‘re on the right path.”
“And if not?” Kamik asks again.
“Then we won‘t make it home,” replies Qisik.
Audiobook read by Kaniehtiio Horn
Can Jared stay sweet, sober and committed to nonviolence no matter what horrors he encounters? He‘s one of over 500 offspring of his trickster father, but he‘s still one-of-a-kind. Who else has internal organs who run from his own body? This thrilling conclusion to the Trickster trilogy is a joyride with vicious coy-wolves, helpful inter-dimensional fireflies, otter humans, a gentle sasquatch, and an evil ogress. Indigenous literature like none other.
—Eden Robinson (Haisla/Heiltsuk), talking about Return of the Trickster in an interview with Shelagh Rogers on 'The Next Chapter'
Darrel McLeod is a queer Nêhiyaw from northern Alberta, writing about his loving yet painful relationship with his mother, Bertha. She was severely punished at residential school for speaking her language—by nuns who spoke in a garbled mix of English and French—so she didn‘t want her own children to learn Nêhiyawêtân. Racism, queer identity, cultural and family connections—all crafted in a spiral style and with avian messengers. Mamaskatch received a Governor General literary award in 2018.
Jim Terry‘s father was white and his mother Indigenous (Ho-Chunk). Both parents struggled with alcoholism. This moving memoir in comics format documents the artist‘s turbulent childhood and sense of alienation, leading to his own addiction to alcohol. He takes us with him to rock bottom, then to sobriety. Attending the protest at Standing Rock helped bring him home to himself. His brushwork art and rich blacks throughout is reminiscent of Will Eisner‘s work.
A wonderful anthology of interconnected stories for kids age 8 and up, all written by different Indigenous authors, all having common elements:
Speculative fiction from queer Indigenous authors: these stories are fresh, varied and imaginative. I didn‘t like them equally but I found something to admire in each. I also now have new-to-me authors to watch. Editor Joshua Whitehead‘s introduction is my favourite piece, for its scholarly yet poignant wordplay. The rest are aimed at tween and teen readers, although of course they can be enjoyed by older readers too. The cover art by Kent Monkman (Nêhiyaw) on the revised 2020 edition (Arsenal Pulp) is a perfect complement.
(from the introduction by Joshua Whitehead (Oji-Nêhiyaw))
She laughs. “I would assume like all consensual relationships: we ask them out.”
This quiet middle grade novel about letting go of unattainable dreams has many strengths, including a realistic portrayal of a contemporary Indigenous (Makah/Piscataway) family in Seattle, and a fierce but sad central character who is passionate about ballet. I‘m glad the author chose ballet over traditional dance, because it sidesteps stereotypes. The dedication at the front sums up the message: “To anyone who needs a reminder that pain is temporary.”
When I heard Tenille Campbell (Dene/Metis) read at a poetry event online, I knew I needed this collection. Her sensual poems celebrate lustiness and a large, brown body belonging to a woman who makes her own choices and remembers to look after herself. Words in Dene and Nêhiyaw language reclaim Indigenous space on the page.
black garbage bag in hand
full of clothes and mismatched socks
underwear she bought you
t-shirts your mom got you
would mean loving me less
I fought too hard
to be this version of me
and I‘m not raising
a grown-ass man