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Indigenous Women and Girls: Represented

A recommended reading list by the author of the new novel Firekeeper.

Book Cover Firekeeper

We've got copies of Katłı̨̀ą's latest novel Firekeeper up for giveaway until the end of May.

Head over to our giveaway page for your chance to win and to check out everything we have on offer.


In no particular order, a short summary of books defined in a similar genre as Firekeeper. I have to acknowledge my peers in the industry who are doing the important work telling stories of Indigenous women and girls' experiences that are ongoing and divide us from the rest of society. We are often misrepresented by non-Indigenous writers which is why it is vital that this practice cease by default to ensure that our representation belong to Indigenous women and girls only.


Book Cover Unbroken

Unbroken, by Angela Sterritt

With a fierce voice, Angela breaks down for readers the stark statistics of missing and murdered Indigenous girls through her compelling journalistic style in Unbroken but she is also able to switch gears and open up to share her own experiences of survival. Angela has such a strong presence both in person and on the page that her message is loud and clear—more must be done to protect our Indigenous women and girls in this country.


Book Cover Our Voice of Fire

Our Voice of Fire, by Brandi Morin

Brandi was recently facing criminal charges for standing up against shutting down an encampment in Edmonton, Alberta. (The charges have since been dropped.) She is not afraid to go above and beyond to tell the stories that need to be told, even if that means risking her freedom. Hopefully she will be able to create precedence that will ensure freedom of the press.

A certain scene in her book Our Voice of Fire has stuck with me. I was reading it in the airport and could relate to some of the situations she found herself in as a teenager. I felt that I was right there with her in those times of danger. I’m thankful that Brandi was brave enough to write about the experience she had of being assaulted, as it is not easy to share our traumatic experiences, but when we are not the only ones writing about these experiences it makes it easier. I found that writing about my own experiences of sexual exploitation was, while very painful in having to go back to those memories, was also very healing and I hope other like minded books to follow will open the door to more safe and honest conversations on the subject.


Book Cover Becoming a Matriarch

Becoming a Matriarch, by Helen Knott

I am honoured to have shared the stage with Helen to talk about writing on more than one occasion. She is a thought-provoking writer with an ability to delve deep into the inner workings of the mind and heart, grappling with feelings that we often don’t discuss openly. Her first book, In My Own Moccasins, came out around the same time my memoir Northern Wildflower was released. It is good to see so many of us writing about our grandmothers, mothers and daughters and not in competition with one another but instead supporting each other. In my fourth year feminine law class we read Helen’s work on man camps and how the transient nature of man camps for resource extraction often creates an unsafe environment for Indigenous women and girls on their own lands where the pillaging of lands and our bodies is analogous.


Book Cover You Might be Sorry you Read This

You Might Be Sorry You Read This, by Michelle Poirier Brown

I am delighted to have encountered this quietly resilient work of art. A conception of poems that resonate at times with my own upbringing and how I’ve often felt the chaos of a dysfunctional family. Michelle reminds us that we must do the best we can to take care of ourselves when we have no choice but to reside in toxic environments as children that are often filled with intergenerational traumas compounded by complex PTSD. Nyla, the main character of Firekeeper, is one of those children. Michelle shows readers that we don’t have to explicitly name our perpetrators to know that they are real.


Book Cover Just Another Indian

Just Another Indian, by Warren Goulding

While this book not written by an Indigenous person I feel I need to include Warren Goulding’s Just Another Indian because he spent years of his journalistic career researching the deaths of three Indigenous women killed at the hands of a serial killer in Saskatchewan in the 1990’s. Goulding shines a light on the levels of discrimination, selectivity and stereotype on the part of the media when reporting on Indigenous women’s mysterious deaths where it is not hard to see the unacceptable excuse that because the Indigenous women who were killed were known street people that their lives did not matter as much. Nyla, although a fictional character, is made up of a compilation of experiences of homelessness and prostitution for her own survival.


Book Cover If I Go Missing

If I Go Missing, by Brianna Jonnie, Neal Shannacappo and Nahanni Shingoose

My connection to Neal through his illustrative work on the graphic novel for my novel Land-Water-Sky brought me to this graphic novel about the dangerous territory that young Indigenous women can sometimes find themselves in just for merely existing. Being a mother to a teenage daughter myself, and writing a “coming of age” novel, I realize that in many ways urban places can be much more dangerous than the wild and, unfortunately, Indigenous women and girls must always be on guard. If I Go Missing is a simplistic read met with provocative illustrations sending an important message on the subject of MMIWG.


Book Cover I am Woman

I Am Woman, by Lee Maracle

Though a more thorough perspective from a political lens, Lee is able to string together a heartfelt empowering feminine body of work that has stood the test of time. Many of her lectures are still applicable today, prompting change and reminding us that we still have a long way to go in making room for women’s voices to be heard and for women themselves to be renowned as leaders, scholars and literary masters, honouring remarkable women like Lee in her memory.


Book Cover Nobody Cries at Bingo

Nobody Cries at Bingo, by Dawn Dumont

A cute comedic take on a beloved pastime, Nobody Cries at Bingo has a setting that is inviting, the colorful cover drawing me a place I want to visit, to drink tea and eat bannock with my grandma again. Dawn and I have something in common, in that our books can be read in one afternoon. I hope that Dawn continues to write humour despite the dark chapter she recently faced when sentenced by the court for fleeing domestic violence. Nyla too was taken away by police without question during a situation in which her word did not stand up against that of a white man even though she was in danger.


Book Cover Truth Telling

Truth Telling, by Michelle Good

Michelle is a sharp-witted powerhouse. Through her sincerity, I have heeded her advice received when I had the chance to visit with her briefly on one of her many book tours. I have learned so much from her words of wisdom in her latest book Truth Telling where she discusses things like farming and how Indigenous peoples were not supported with the same tools as non-Indigenous peoples. This has since led to the “Cows and Plows” compensation that some First Nations are now receiving for those past hindrances at the hands of the government.


Book Cover Bonewalker

There are so many more Indigenous women’s voices that I’d like to use this opportunity to amplify, like my good friend and former colleague at Indiginews Odette Auger, Cassandra Blondin-Burt a Dene women from my home territory in the north; and Karen Lee White who just released Bonewalker, a novel.


Book Cover Firekeeper

Learn more about Firekeeper:

Nyla has an affinity to fire. A neglected teen in a small northern town—trying to escape a mother battling her own terrors—she is kicked out and struggles through life on the streets. Desperate for love, Nyla accidentally sets fire to her ex’s building and is then incarcerated for arson. Through community-led diversion, Nyla finds herself on a reserve as their firekeeper. But when climate change–induced wildfires threaten her new home, she knows intimately how to fight back.

The fourth book from acclaimed writer Katłıà brings a Northern Indigenous perspective to the destructive effects of ongoing colonialism. Displaying Katłıà’s enthralling storytelling style, Firekeeper is a coming-of-age tale that addresses intergenerational trauma by reclaiming culture, belonging and identity.

Join Nyla on her healing journey through the fire to sacred waters.

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