Books·Canadian

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun is a nonfiction book by Paul Seesequasis.

Paul Seesequasis

In 2015, writer and journalist Paul Seesequasis found himself grappling with the devastating findings of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission report on the residential school system. He sought understanding and inspiration in the stories of his mother, herself a residential school survivor. Gradually, Paul realized that another, mostly untold history existed alongside the official one: that of how Indigenous peoples and communities had held together during even the most difficult times. He embarked on a social media project to collect archival photos capturing everyday life in First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities from the 1920s through the 1970s. As he scoured archives and libraries, Paul uncovered a trove of candid images and began to post these on social media, where they sparked an extraordinary reaction. Friends and relatives of the individuals in the photographs commented online, and through this dialogue, rich histories came to light for the first time.

Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun collects some of the most arresting images and stories from Paul's project. While many of the photographs live in public archives, most have never been shown to the people in the communities they represent. As such, Blanket Toss is not only an invaluable historical record, it is a meaningful act of reclamation, showing the ongoing resilience of Indigenous communities, past, present — and future. (From Knopf Canada)

Why Paul Seesequasis wanted to reclaim everyday Indigeneity through archival images

"This book began from a comment my mother made to me when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was happening. She is a residential school survivor. She felt that she wasn't hearing anything on the news that reflected the strength of our families, our kinships and our relations with each other through the hardest of times.

This book began from a comment my mother made to me when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was happening.- Paul Seesequasis

"I was looking for photos that reflected kinship, strength and families' relationship with the land. It's the idea that previous generations, even going through the hardest times of forced relocations or residential schools, had strength that enabled today's resurgence of languages and culture of so many great artists, writers and filmmakers that we see today."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Paul Seesequasis

Paul Seesequasis, a Saskatoon writer and member of the Plains Cree First Nation, on Blanket Toss Under Midnight Sun, a collection of archival photos, and the stories behind them, that give insight into everyday life in eight Indigenous communities from the 1920s through the 1970s. 16:46
Cree astronomer shares legends of the stars; Indigenous actors from The Revenant share thoughts on Leo DiCaprio's shout out to First Nations; and Navajo artist Ryan Singer inspired by Star Wars. 39:46
Three years ago, Paul Seesequasis began sharing historical photos of Indigenous people on Twitter and Facebook. The black and white photos were taken between 1920-1970, and are of Indigenous people wearing contemporary clothing doing everyday things. 7:44

From the book

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