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Children's Nonfiction General

Muinji’j Asks Why

The Story of the Mi’kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School

by (author) Shanika Jayde MacEachern

by (artist) Zeta Paul

Nimbus Publishing
Initial publish date
Jan 2022
General, Native Canadian, Cultural Heritage
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jan 2022
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 5 to 18
  • Grade: k to 12


An educational and heartfelt retelling of the story of the Mi’kmaq and their traditional lands, Mi’kma’ki, for young readers, focused on the generational traumas of the Indian Residential School System.

“The story of the Mi’kmaw people is one that very few truly know, Ladybug. Even fewer understand what happened at the residential schools. It is a hard story to tell, but you must know the truth. Sit and I will tell you the story.”

When seven-year-old Muinji’j comes home from school one day, her Nana and Papa can tell right away that she’s upset. Her teacher has been speaking about the residential schools. Unlike most of her fellow students, Muinji’j has always known about the residential schools. But what she doesn’t understand is why the schools existed and why children would have died there.

Nana and Papa take Muinji’j aside and tell her the whole story, from the beginning. They help her understand all of the decisions that were made for the Mi’kmaq, not with the Mi’kmaq, and how those decisions hurt her people. They tell her the story of her people before their traditional ways were made illegal, before they were separated and sent to reservations, before their words, their beliefs, and eventually, their children, were taken from them.

A poignant, honest, and necessary book featuring brilliant artwork from Mi’kmaw artist Zeta Paul and words inspired by Muinji’j MacEachern’s true story, Muinji’j Asks Why will inspire conversation, understanding, and allyship for readers of all ages.

About the authors

Shanika MacEachern, a Native Student Advisor with Annapolis Valley Centre for Education, is a Mi’kmaw woman devoted to learning traditional knowledge and teaching which she can to youth to empower the voices of our future. Shanika has an education obtained from NSCC in Mi’kmaq Addictions and Prevention Counselling, which has led to her interest with intergenerational trauma within First nations communities across Canada. Shanika hopes this story touches the hearts of many and captures the severity of the trauma her people have faced, and which continues to ripple throughout First Nations communities.

Shanika Jayde MacEachern's profile page

Zeta Paul is a Mi'kmaw interdisciplinary artist. She attended The Nova Scotia University of Art and Design and fell in love with creating, through mediums such as illustration, animation, print, photography, and jewellery. Her inspiration often revolves around feelings, memories, nostalgia, intimacy communicated through color, tone and subject matter arranged in a dynamic ethereal manner.

Zeta Paul's profile page

Other titles by Zeta Paul