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Top Grade Spring Selections (High School)

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New releases for high school students. 100% Canadian.
Sagkeeng Legends — Sagkeeng Aadizookaanag

Sagkeeng Legends — Sagkeeng Aadizookaanag

Stories by John C. Courchene
by Craig Fontaine
illustrated by Lloyd Swampy
edition:Paperback

John C. Courchene was born in Sagkeeng First Nation in 1914, where he attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School. Courchene’s time in the residential school was short; his brothers, "Joejay" and Louis, took John out school so he could help them cut wood in the bush. While this helped John make a lifetime commitment to hard work, it also resulted in John being “illiterate” in the European sense of the word. In the ways of the forest and his native language, Anishanabemowin, howev …

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Excerpt

The stories in this book were recorded by my grandmother, Josephine Courchene, in the early 1980s. She was my greatest teacher, and she always obliged my constant questions about Sagkeeng’s past. My grandfather, John C. Courchene, was not a natural storyteller but instead preferred to be out at a hockey rink or a baseball diamond. He was a sportsman who lived for sports, which resulted in him being honoured with the Tom Longboat Trophy as Native male athlete of year in 1976. A citation quickly followed which recognized his contribution to sports development in the province of Manitoba. John was born in Sagkeeng First Nation in 1914, the youngest son of Louis Courchene and Suzette Charbonneau. He briefly attended the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School but was taken out of the school by his brothers “Joejay” and Louis to help them cut wood out in the bush. This action resulted in a lifetime commitment to hard work, which he did at the Abitibi Pulp and Paper Company for thirty years. It also resulted in John being considered illiterate, in the European sense, though he was not illiterate in the ways of the bush or in our greatest gift, the Anishanabemowin language.

The two stories in this book were told in Anishanabemowin and should really be understood in this language for a person to truly capture their essence. The English language is not equipped to express many Indigenous ideas and concepts. A person who wishes to understand “Indian ways” has to go to the language. Without this foundation, everything is just mimicry. After all, language is the context of any culture. Since English is the “dominant” language today, I had the stories translated into English in order to provide a small sampling of our Aadizookaan (legends) to non-speakers. Anishanabe syllabics are included in the translation as they capture the true sounds and expression of Indigenous languages.

The stories represent two pebbles of knowledge where a mountain stood before the onslaught of colonization began to erode the very foundations of our cultures. Each First Nation throughout Indian country needs to rectify this condition. Revitalizing our languages is perhaps the most important step we can take in decolonizing our minds and initiating true sovereignty.

Although John was illiterate in the formal sense he had to rely on an extremely sharp memory, as did our ancestors. The ability to memorize events, geography, weather patterns, plants, and animal behaviour was crucial for First Nations Peoples to survive in times past. My mother, Ruth, once told me her father would never get lost once he had been to a certain place. I assume John had to memorize and internalize the route as, without being able to read, he could not rely on road signs. This idea fits exactly with what my friend, the late great Dakota Sioux scholar Vine Deloria Jr., expressed in his book God Is Red. He explains that Indigenous Peoples’ epistemology is based on place/space as opposed to European linear time-based thinking. I assume this is the reason John always told his son Charles, whenever a certain job or task had to be done, “Kawin atacinon pahmah. piko cemak tci totaman kispin kwetci migoin kekoh tci totamin.”(There is no such thing as later. You must do it right away if you are asked to do something). The here and now is what really matters. Another example of my grandfather’s reliance on his memory of land features occurred when he was out in the bush and came across some plants he had never seen before in Sagkeeng. He liked the look of these plants so much he proceeded to dig one up and plant it in his garden. It turned out to be cannabis, which someone on the reserve had thought to grow. How many educated young people today taking a walk in the bush would be able to realize that an introduced plant was not indigenous to the surrounding land?

The two stories in this book describe the connection of First Nations Peoples to our own realities and existence before the coming of the white settlers. They speak of a time and place where spirit operated on the same reality as the material. Some people believe that our reliance on the material through technology and products has caused a split from the spirit world, so that certain events no longer take place. At one time events that are now considered “supernatural” were commonplace. I personally believe that these events actually occurred in our tribal history.

Oral history is crucial in determining Indigenous Peoples’ connection to our lands. The following stories provide our connection to our place in the Sagkeeng First Nation. They also establish our continuing existence as Anishanabe as well as provide evidence of the rich history of the Courchene family. — Craig Charbonneau Fontaine

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He Moved A Mountain

He Moved A Mountain

The Life of Frank Calder and the Nisga'a Land Claims Accord
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Dr. Frank Arthur Calder of BC's Nisga'a First Nation was the first aboriginal person to be elected to any Canadian governing body. For twenty-six years he served as an MLA in the legislature of British Columbia. He was the driving force behind Canada's decision to grant recognition of aboriginal land title to First Nations people throughout the country. He accomplished this goal by guiding the controversial request through a series of court cases, finally to the Supreme Court of Canada,achieving …

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Real Justice: Convicted for Being Mi'kmaq

Real Justice: Convicted for Being Mi'kmaq

The story of Donald Marshall Jr.
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook

When a black teen was murdered in a Sydney, Cape Breton park late one night, his young companion, Donald Marshall Jr., became a prime suspect. Sydney police coached two teens to testify against Donald which helped convict him of a murder he did not commit. He spent 11 years in prison until he finally got a lucky break. Not only was he eventually acquitted of the crime, but a royal commission inquiry into his wrongful conviction found that a non-aboriginal youth would not have been convicted in t …

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Righting Canada's Wrongs Resource Guide

Righting Canada's Wrongs Resource Guide

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

The RIGHTING CANADA'S WRONGS series is devoted to the exploration of the mostly unknown, and often shocking, stories of Canadian government's racist actions against various ethnic groups through our history, the fight for acknowledgement and justice, and the eventual apologies and restitution of subsequent governments.

In this Resource Guide you will find seven lessons that will engage your students while they learn about some of the important events in Canada's history that helped shape our curr …

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Rat

Rat

edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover eBook

Colin is tired of school bullies and other students' refusal to speak up or "rat" on the real troublemakers. When Colin does speak out against a couple of school thugs, they post an embarrassing photo of him on a social networking website. Colin makes some new enemies in the process but also a few new allies, including the VP, Mr. Miller. One of Colin's new unwanted allies, though, is Jerome, who is selling weapons to kids at school for "self defense." Colin threatens to turn Jerome in but backs …

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Maxed Out

Maxed Out

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover

More than anything, twelve-year-old Max wants to play hockey like he used to. But since the death of his dad, his mom does more crying than mothering, and Max has to take his special-needs brother, Duncan, with him everywhere he goes. The team needs Max to win the upcoming game against the Red Eagles, but one practice with Duncan makes it evident that it's not safe to leave him unattended on the sidelines. With only a week to figure out how he can play in the big game, Max is feeling the pressur …

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Excerpt

I can hear them. It's like I'm right there. I probably know who just scored.

 

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Reviens

Reviens

(Comeback)
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Ria est riche, mince, jolie et populaire. Ses amies pensent qu'elle mène la vie rêvée. Mais sa situation a pris un tournant malencontreux. Ses parents se séparent et, avant qu'elle ait pu absorber le choc de cette nouvelle, son père bien-aimé disparaît dans un accident d'avion. Et comme si ça ne suffisait pas, des rumeurs circulent à l'effet que son père ne serait pas le héros que l'on croyait. Ria décide de prendre les grands moyens pour se protéger, ainsi que son jeune frère, et …

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War Brothers

War Brothers

The Graphic Novel
edition:Paperback
tagged : africa, violence

The unforgettable novel about one child soldier’s struggle with friendship, courage, and resilience.

Jacob is a 14-year-old Ugandan who is sent away to a boys’ school. Once there, he assures his friend Tony that they need not be afraid—they will be safe. But not long after, in the shadow of the night, the boys are abducted. Marched into the jungle, they are brought to an encampment of the feared rebel soldiers. Told that they must kill or be killed, the boys are thrust into a terrifying str …

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