Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 4 to 8
- Reading age: 9 to 12
★"Smith's book is an effort that returns, offering diverse voices that invite the world into the reconciliation experience. Absolutely necessary.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Canada's relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.
Praise for Speaking Our Truth:
★"Smith thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada's residential schools…Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
★"Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action."—School Library Journal, starred review
★"Offers a perfect framework for readers actively exploring Indigenous history and current issues. Welcoming, honest, and down to earth, Speaking Our Truth is the tool many Canadians have been waiting for."—Quill & Quire, starred review
About the author
Monique Gray Smith is a mixed–heritage woman of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of twins. Monique is an accomplished consultant, writer and international speaker. Her first novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, won the 2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Métis and Inuit Literature. Monique and her family are blessed to live on Lkwungen territory in Victoria, British Columbia.
- Short-listed, Red Cedar Book Award
- Unknown, Rocky Mountain Book Award
- Short-listed, Red Maple Award Non-fiction
- Winner, Vancouver Children's Literature Roundtable Information Book Award
- Short-listed, The Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada Information Book Award
- Winner, Bolen Books Children's Book Prize
- Long-listed, George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature
- Short-listed, TD Canadian Children's Literature Award
- Commended, CCBC Best Books starred selection
- Commended, CBC Best Canadian Young Adult and Children's Books
- Commended, Resource Links The Year's Best
- Winner, Moonbeam Children's Book Award: Multicultural Non-Fiction Chapter Book
- Winner, PNBA Tradeshow BuzzBooks
“A practical guide to the reconciliation process…Questions throughout encourage active reader participation; the unique book could also spur research about these issues as they relate to the United States.”
The Horn Book Online
★ "Smith includes messages of resilience from community leaders and elders and devotes an entire chapter to interview with young people as they express how important it is for them to contribute to the healing of their communities. Indigenous podcaster, Ryan McMahon says, 'Reconciliation is asking myself who my Ancestors were the day before they went to residential school, then doing everything I can to return to that.' Smith's book is an effort that returns, offering diverse voices that invite the world into the reconciliation experience. Absolutely necessary."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"This is an important book…The author does a fine job balancing the need to depict the children's terrible suffering with the fact that she is writing for young people…Even readers who are unfamiliar with Canadian history will be left with an understanding of the impact these events left on Indigenous people, as well as the importance of preserving all people's identity and cultural heritage."
Youth Services Book Reviews
★ "Smith takes care to explain the manner in which she interviewed various people. This transparent glimpse into the writing process underscores her humble, gracious tone. The author supports all her assertions with documentation; the cumulative effect is unquestionably authentic and respectful…As a package, the book offers a perfect framework for readers actively exploring Indigenous history and current issues. Welcoming, honest, and down to earth, Speaking Our Truth is the tool many Canadians have been waiting for."
Quill & Quire, starred review
"Smith has written an astoundingly honest and inclusive book that tackles [reconciliation] with compassion and clarity…Her respectful, authentic voice shines throughout the whole book and she allows room for multiple perspectives…This exemplary title, so obviously written from the heart, is a book that all young people should read. Indeed, it is a book that all Canadians need. "
Canadian Children's Book News
"Weaving personal experience and Canadian society's struggle to come to terms with a sorrowful and the haunting past, Smith bravely negotiates this politically sensitive terrain…Written in frank and accessible language, this is a must-have book that will educate children and adults alike."
TD Canadian Children's Book Award Jury
★ "Smith thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada's residential schools…Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Smith's narrative tone is inviting and friendly, often addressing the reader directly as she takes them from the earliest moments of colonial contact, through the Indian Act of 1894, traumatic residential school experiences…and the ways today's children can be allies and actors in the ongoing process of reconciliation and anti-oppression…Readers from south of the Canadian border might be inspired to start asking questions about their own history."
"A vibrant non-fiction resource…All of the information in this book is clearly organized and supported by meaningful graphics and pictures. The text is easy to follow and divided into manageable chunks with glossary definitions as needed. This book is easily one of the most current and thoughtful that I have read on the subject. Every school library should consider adding this book to their collection."
"[Speaking Our Truth's] strength is the author's extensive research. If one chooses to delve into this material, they will get a glimpse of the personal stories behind the need for truth and reconciliation."
Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education
"I learned a great deal from [Smith's] book, and I did re-examine much of what I thought I knew…This is a book that definitely has a place in middle and high school libraries, and it would be a useful supplementary resource for teachers of Canadian history and Indigenous studies. Highly Recommended."
★ "Replete with primary sources, including photos and personal accounts from those who lived in the residential schools, Smith tackles difficult and complex conversations with straightforwardness and compassion…Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action…Purchase this vibrant, must-have title to prompt critical thinking and open discussions."
School Library Journal, starred review
"Monique Gray Smith offers young readers around the world an important new book in Speaking Our Truth, A Journey of Reconciliation…Smith tackles these issues in such a way that readers learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action."
The International Educator
"A valuable resource for educators looking for ways to increase their own understanding of reconciliation whole offering valuable prompts to guide junior and intermediate students in understanding this period in Canadian history."
"You are holding a medicine bundle of hope and of witnessing the resiliency and the beauty of Indigenous and Metis people who have survived numerous attempts at genocide. I am grateful to Monique Gray Smith and Orca Book Publishers for creating a treasury of hard truths for everyone this book finds. We are witnesses together who can all do our part in the great healing ahead. I am in awe! Mahsi cho!"
Richard Van Camp, award-winning author of <i>We Sang You Home</i>
Other titles by Monique Gray Smith
Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults
Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants