Memoirs from Indigenous Canadians

Stolen Life: The Journey of a Cree Woman

By Rudy Wiebe & Yvonne Johnson
Published by Vintage Canada 1999

A Stolen Life

The powerful, major book, acclaimed across Canada, from the great-great-granddaughter of Chief Big Bear and Rudy Wiebe, twice winner of the Governor General's Award for Fiction. A story of justice and social injustices, of murder and morality, and of finding spiritual strength in events that might break us, told with redeeming compassion and poetic eloquence. Stolen Life is a raw, honest, and beautifully written account of the troubled society we live in, and a deeply moving affirmation of spiritual healing. (From Penguin Random House)

 

All the Way: My Life on Ice

By Jordin Tootoo
Published by Viking Canada 2014

 All the Way by Jordin Tootoo

 

It seemed as though nothing could stop Jordin Tootoo on the ice. The captain of Canada’s Under-18, a fan favourite on the World Junior squad, and a WHL top prospect who could intimidate both goalies and enforcers, he was always a leader. And when Tootoo was drafted by Nashville in 2000 and made the Predators out of camp in 2003, he became a leader in another way: the first player of Inuk descent to suit up in the NHL…

In 2010, Tootoo checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. It seemed a promising career had ended too soon. But that’s not the way Tootoo saw it and not the way it would end. As heir to a cultural legacy that included alcohol, despair, and suicide, Tootoo could also draw on a heritage that could help sustain him even thousands of miles away from Nunavut. And in a community haunted by the same hopelessness and substance abuse that so affected Tootoo’s life, it is not just his skill and fearlessness on the ice that have made him a hero, but the courage of his honesty to himself and to the world around him that he needed to rely on others to sustain him through his toughest challenge. (From JordinTootoo.com)

 

Up Ghost River : A Chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History

By Edmund Metatawabin & Alexandra Shimo
Published by Knopf Canada 2014

 Up Ghost River

 

After being separated from his family at age 7, Metatawabin was assigned a number and stripped of his Native identity. At his residential school–one of the worst in Canada–he was physically and emotionally abused, and was sexually abused by one of the staff. Leaving high school, he turned to alcohol to forget the trauma. He later left behind his wife and family, and fled to Edmonton, where he joined a Native support group that helped him come to terms with his addiction and face his PTSD. By listening to elders’ wisdom, he learned how to live an authentic Native life within a modern context, thereby restoring what had been taken from him years earlier. Metatawabin has worked tirelessly to bring traditional knowledge to the next generation of Native youth and leaders, as a counsellor at the University of Alberta, Chief in his Fort Albany community, and today as a youth worker, Native spiritual leader and activist. His work championing indigenous knowledge, sovereignty and rights spans several decades and has won him awards and national recognition. His story gives a personal face to the problems that beset Native communities and fresh solutions, and untangles the complex dynamics that sparked the Idle No More movement. (From Penguin Random House Canada)

  

The Right to Be Cold: One Woman's Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet

By Sheila Watt-Cloutier
Published by Penguin Canada 2016

The Right to be Cold Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Arctic ice is receding each year, but just as irreplaceable is the culture, the wisdom that has allowed the Inuit to thrive in the Far North for so long. And it's not just the Arctic. The whole world is changing in dangerous, unpredictable ways. Sheila Watt-Cloutier has devoted her life to protecting what is threatened and nurturing what has been wounded. In this culmination of Watt-Cloutier's regional, national, and international work over the last twenty-five years, The Right to Be Cold explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture, of which her own background is such an extraordinary example. This is a human story of resilience, commitment, and survival told from the unique vantage point of an Inuk woman who, in spite of many obstacles, rose from humble beginnings in the Arctic to become one of the most influential and decorated environmental, cultural, and human rights advocates in the world. (From Penguin Random House Canada)

 

From the Barren Lands: Fur Trade, First Nations and a Life in Northern Canada

By Leonard Flett
Published by Great Plains Publications 2015

From the Barren Lands

This is a story about the fur trade and First Nations and the development of northern Canada, seen and experienced not only through Leonard Flett's eyes, but also through the eyes of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

The lives of Indigenous people in remote areas of northern Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan in the 1960s and 1970s are examined in detail. Flett's successful career with both the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company provides an insight into the dying days of the fur trade and the rise of a new retail business tailored to First Nations. (From CBC)

 

One Native Life

By Richard Wagamese
Published by Douglas & McIntyre 2008

One Native Life Wagamese

In 2005, award-winning writer Richard Wagamese moved with his partner to a cabin outside Kamloops, B.C. In the crisp mountain air Wagamese felt a peace he’d seldom known before. Abused and abandoned as a kid, he’d grown up feeling there was nowhere he belonged. For years, only alcohol and moves from town to town seemed to ease the pain.

In One Native Life, Wagamese looks back down the road he has travelled in reclaiming his identity and talks about the things he has learned as a human being, a man and an Ojibway in his fifty-two years. Whether he’s writing about playing baseball, running away with the circus, attending a sacred bundle ceremony or meeting Pierre Trudeau, he tells these stories in a healing spirit. Through them, Wagamese celebrates the learning journey his life has been.

 Free of rhetoric and anger despite the horrors he has faced, Wagamese’s prose resonates with a peace that has come from acceptance. Acceptance is an Aboriginal principle, and he has come to see that we are all neighbours here. One Native Life is his tribute to the people, the places and the events that have allowed him to stand in the sunshine and celebrate being alive. (From Douglas & McIntyre)