Off the Page

A blog on Canadian writing, reading, and everything in between

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Book Cover the Queer Evangelist

On Telling the Truth in Politics

By Cheri Divnovo

An excerpt from new memoir The Queer Evangelist, Cheri DiNovo's story of her life as a queer minister, politician and st …

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 The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winners The Fan Brothers

By Trevor Corkum

We continue our special coverage of this year’s Governor General's Literature Award winners in conversation with the a …

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Book Cover Oy Feh So

Notes from a Children's Librarian: Books on Jewish Heritage

By Julie Booker

Compelling stories showcasing Jewish Heritage to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Madhur Anand

By Trevor Corkum

Check out our conversation with Madhur Anand, whose brilliant experimental memoir This Red Line Goes Straight to Your He …

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Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)

By Erika Thorkelson

Erika Thorkelson's "Me and Bridget Jones (20 Years Later)" is one of the essays in Midlife, a new essay collection explo …

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The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

The Chat with GG's Literature Award Winner Michelle Good

By Trevor Corkum

Today we are pleased to kick off our special coverage of the 2020 Governor General's Award winners (English-language) wi …

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Book Cover Cattail Skyline

The World Up Close

By Joanne Epp

A recommended reading list by author of new book CATTAIL SKYLINE on paying close attention to the small and particular.

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Book Cover What's In It For Me

The Keepers on My Bookshelf

By LS Stone

Depth and humour are themes in this great recommended reading list by the author of the new middle grade novel What's in …

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Book Cover the Girl from Dream City

How Does a Woman Become a Writer?

By Linda Leith

"The writers who interest me most, always, are women who write about themselves in ways that a male writer never could." …

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Book Cover Big Reader

11 Essay Collections to Revisit Now

By Susan Olding

"The bestselling novel of a decade ago will sometimes seem stale or irrelevant today, but that’s rarely true of an ess …

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“One day, somebody is going to forget”: A Conversation With Mini Aodla Freeman

Book Cover Life Among the Qallunaat

Mini Aodla Freeman's Life Among the Qallunaat—a memoir of her experiences in the north and of working for the Department of Northern Affairs during the late 1950s—was first published in 1978, and appears now in a brand new edition edited and with an afterword by Keavy Martin and Julie Rak, with Norma Dunning. The new book begins with a conversation between Freeman, Martin and Dunning, excerpted here, in which they discuss how Freeman came to write her memoir, its enthusiastic reception by readers, and how copies were kept in a basement at Indian Affairs for fear that Freeman had included details of her time at residential school. (Freeman says, "I should have, but I didn't.)

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The original publication of Life Among the Qallunaat (1978) began with a foreword by Alex Stevenson, the "Administrator of the Arctic" who had worked at the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources during the time when Mini Aodla Freeman was employed there as a translator (1957–1960).

To provide context for this new edition, Aodla Freeman detailed her experiences of writing and publishing the original text in an interview with Keavy Martin and Norma Dunning. This excerpt is taken from a longer discussion recorded on March 20, 2014, at Aodla Freeman’s home in Edmonton.

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Why Non-Indigenous Canadians Need to Share the Burden and Historical Legacies of the Residential School System

Book Cover The Education of Augie Merasty

In Talking History, Canada's foremost historians and history experts show that Canada's history is essential to our understanding of our country and the world today. The series is made possible through a special funding grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Kaleigh Bradley is a historical consultant and PhD candidate in the Department of History at York University. Her current research examines the environmental history of Indigenous lands and the effects of mining and development on Indigenous communities in Northern Ontario. She’s also a co-editor of the popular history website ActiveHistory.ca.

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In the nineteenth century, near present-day Sault Ste. Marie, Chief Shingwaukonse dreamt of a teaching wigwam where Anishinaabe children could acquire vocational and academic skills. Chief Shingwaukonse wanted children to have these tools so that they could preserve Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe language), and easily adapt to a modernizing economy and society. Indigenous peoples, with the help of church missionaries and government officials, sought the creation of the schools for their children, but the schools later became an instrument for cultural genocide.

The Indian Residential School (IRS) system began in the early nineteenth century with the missionary …

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor

Book Cover A Knock at the Door

Phil Fontaine is a Survivor, TRC Honorary Witness, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He writes the Foreword to new book A Knock at the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, reproduced below.

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My name is Phil Fontaine and I am a survivor.

Survivor is a word that years ago I used in hushed tones to describe my experience at Indian Residential School. But that was then. I have now come to say the word louder and more imbued with pride with every passing year of my life. This year, “survivor” has reached a crescendo.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, and its findings, represents a historic moment for all survivors; for all Indigenous people everywhere. It is, I think, a historic moment for Canada, the significance of which rests in not only what has been, but also what is to come.

I cannot speak for every survivor—each of us has our own story—but we do have common characteristics. As survivors, we number in the thousands. But if you count our brothers and sisters who are no longer with us, we number in the hundreds of thousands, possibly many more. All of us, the living and the dead, endured the effects of a policy that sought transformation—transform …

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The Chat with Tanya Talaga

TanyaTalagac.Steve Russell:Toronto Star

TREVOR CORKUM cropped

Today we are in conversation with Tanya Talaga. Her hard-hitting and important Seven Fallen Feathers tells the story of seven Indigenous teenagers who have gone missing in Thunder Bay over the past several years. Throughout the narrative, she unpacks the legacy of the residential school system and explores how ongoing colonialism and bureaucratic indifference impact Indigenous youth in Northern Ontario. The book was a finalist for this year’s Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust of Canada Prize for Nonfiction.

According to The Walrus, "Seven Fallen Feathers is a must-read for all Canadians. It shows us where we came from, where we’re at, and what we need to do to make the country a better place for us all."

sevenfallenfeathers

Tanya Talaga has been a journalist at the Toronto Star for twenty years, covering everything from general city news to education, natio …

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Books for Orange Shirt Day

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.

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Residential Schools are often talked about beginning with the study of Indigenous Peoples in the Grade 3 social studies curriculum, but awareness can begin even earlier. These texts, from preschool to teens, address some of the harsh issues—and are especially meaningful in connection with Orange Shirt Day on September 30.

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The Orange Shirt Story, by Phyllis Webstad, illustrated by Brock Nicol, is a true story. Six-year-old Phyllis was looking forward to going to the same school as her cousins. She even had a new orange shirt for the occasion, but the nuns promptly removed it, and then cut off her hair. The nuns showed no empathy—a poignant illustration shows Phyllis crying, alone, in her bed at night. One nice teacher was her only solace. Luckily, Phyllis only had to endure one year away at school and never went back. There’s a section at the back of the book explaining the meaning of Orange Shirt Day. (Grade 3+)

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Fatty Legs, by Christy Jordan …

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