This is a list of eBooks and audiobooks to help readers celebrate the cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples through a mix of fiction and nonfiction that shines light on painful moments in history (much of which is hardly past) while highlighting the talents of some of the best writers working today.
Call Me Indian, by Fred Sasakamoose
Fred Saskamoose emerged from the brutal residential school system to become the first Indigenous person with Treaty status in the NHL—before First Nations people obtained the right to vote in Canada. But there’s more to the story of “Fast Freddy” than the dozen games he played for the Chicago Black Hawks, including a life serving his community and fighting to reclaim Indigenous pride.
A History of My Brief Body, by Billy-Ray Belcourt
This poetic and challenging memoir leaves impressions on readers’ minds that may take a lifetime to interpret. We spoke with the author about his work on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.
21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, by Bob Joseph
As Canadians contemplate how to move forward on the path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, it’s helpful to be familiar with the legal framework that’s dictated so much of Indigenous life over more than 150 years. In clear language with necessary context around key issues, author and Indigenous relations trainer Bob Joseph explains what the Indian Act is and what it was intended to do, and what its actual consequences have been.
A Mind Spread Out on the Ground, by Alicia Elliott
Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott writes beautifully about hard topics, ranging from sexual assault and mental illness, to racism in the justice system and the long-term health impact of systemic oppression.
Sufferance, by Thomas King
When Jeremiah Camp’s gift of foresight shows him a future for humanity that he’d rather not deal with, he decides to shut himself off from the world in a small town’s old residential school. But humanity just won’t leave Jeremiah alone. This is a wry satire from a master of the genre about a world in which power and wealth flow to the few.
Moon of the Crusted Snow, by Waubgeshig Rice
Cut off from food and electricity, a small northern Anishinaabe community starts to collapse in on itself, and visitors start to exploit the vulnerable. Waubgeshig Rice weaves contemporary horror and science fiction with traditional storytelling in this slow-burning thriller.
From the Ashes: My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, by Jesse Thistle
As a scholar of Métis history specializing in intergenerational trauma, Jesse Thistle's sense of self as a Métis-Cree-Scot person stretches back through a series of painful losses. In this memoir he finds himself in that history and shares his own incredible story. He spoke with us about it on the Kobo in Conversation podcast.
All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, by Tanya Talaga
In this follow-up to her masterfully reported book Seven Fallen Feathers, journalist Tanya Talaga turns her attention to the rising rates of youth suicide in Indigenous communities around the world, and traces connections to colonial practices of separating peoples from land and a lack of basic resources that lead to poor health outcomes. Talaga also highlights traditions of resistance among Indigenous Nations that might lead the way to a more just and equitable future.
Jonny Appleseed, by Joshua Whitehead
Returning to the “rez” for the funeral of his stepfather is a culture shock for Jonny, a Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer whose main gig back in the big city is as an “NDN glitter princess” cybersex worker.
Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese
The late Richard Wagamese stands as one of Turtle Island’s great Indigenous literary artists, and this is the book that put him on the map. While it tells an increasingly familiar and horrific story about residential school trauma, it contains magic in the thrilling passages where readers are taken onto the ice as Saul Indian Horse discovers his astonishing gifts as a hockey player.
Five Little Indians, by Michelle Good
In this stunning book, debut novelist Michelle Good answers the question, what happens after the residential schools, to the kids who grow up and leave? Five friends find the way to downtown Vancouver’s Eastside, trying to make their way as their paths diverge and cross over their lifetimes.
The Reason You Walk, by Wab Kinew
Broadcaster Wab Kinew reconnects with his roots in this memoir focusing on 2012, the year his father succumbed to cancer. Kinew reflects on his struggle to find a path, and how the example set by his father, of reconciliation and integrity, helped lead the way. At its heart, the book is a deeply felt reflection on a father-son relationship.
Split Tooth, by Tanya Talaga
Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit throat singer who puts on thrilling, haunting musical performances. In this novel, she spins a story about a girl who exists on a plane between myth and nature and life in 1970s Nunavut. The audiobook is a must-listen for Tagaq’s visceral reading and interspersed passages of throat-singing.
Son of a Trickster, by Eden Robinson
Son of a Trickster kicks off Eden Robinson’s Trickster Trilogy, the story of Jared, a big-hearted burnout of a kid trying to get by and look after the people he loves, which would be a lot easier if the supernatural world would stop intruding. But when he discovers that his own bloodline is the connection to the mysterious forces that keep harshing his mellow, well, that’s just about the biggest bummer ever. These books will send chills up your spine while making you laugh, and sometimes on the same page.
Take Us to Your Chief, by Drew Hayden Taylor
Drew Hayden Taylor plays with classic science fiction tropes in this collection of nine stories told from a First Nations perspective. These stories are funny, clever, and will leave you wanting more.
The Marrow Thieves, by Cheri Dimaline
In Cherie Dimaline’s novel about a world on the brink of collapse from environmental degradation, madness takes hold as the ability to dream falls away—except the Indigenous peoples of North America. And the key is in bone marrow. The book follows Frenchie and his friends as they journey northwards, trying to stay hidden from those who would steal the very marrow from their bones.
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