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18 Indigenous books and video games to read, watch or play

 

Indigenous dancer and drummer Bryce Morison. (Adam Berry/Getty Images)

On June 21, Canadians celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day — a special day to recognize and learn about Indigenous Peoples' unique culture, heritage and contributions.


Canada's Indigenous peoples include First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Although these three groups have many things in common, they each have their own languages, spiritual beliefs, cultural practices, and heritage.


Here are 18 different books and video games you can read, watch and play to learn more about Canada's Indigenous peoples.

Indigenous comics

book coverNapi and the Rock

Digital comic from Jason Eaglespeaker

Napi (say "naw-pea") is a trickster character and the digital comics are based on thousands of years of stories shared by the Blackfoot Indigenous people to empower and educate others about the world around them. Brand new stories launch every month. Ask your local library or your guardian to find this digital comic online for you.

 

image of SnowguardSnowguard

from Marvel Comics

The newest Marvel superhero is an Inuit teenager named Amka Aliyak from Nunuvut — also known as Snowguard. Amka gains superpowers when she tries to release the spirits of the land who have been captured by a villain using the energy of the land. Amka will be part of the Champions, which also includes teen versions of Spider-Man, Ms Marvel and the Hulk.

All Marvel Comics characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 1941-2018 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

comics coverThe Wool of Jonesy

from Native Realities

The Wool of Jonesy is a comic by Dine writer and artist Jonathan Nelson that tells the story of a sheep (named Jonesy) and his adventures on the rez. As Jonesy heads out to explore life after high school, he finds himself discovering and dreaming.


 

comics coverSila and the Land

by Shelby Angalik, Ariana Roundpoint and Lindsay Dupre
from Ed-Ucation Publishing

Sila and The Land is a story written by three Indigenous women from their own very unique perspectives — First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Sila, an Inuk girl travels in all four directions learning about the land and the importance of protecting it.

comics coverHero Twins

from Native Realities

This comic, from Navajo writer and illustrator Dale Deforest, follows two warriors of the same name throughout their journey to rid the spirit world of evil spirits. The Hero Twins have long held an important place in the stories of the Navajo people as protectors of the People.

Comics are awesome. It's a fact. We're highlighting amazing Indigenous comics we think you'll love. Ask your local library if they have these books available!

Picture books by Indigenous authors

Book: When I Was Eight

When I Was Eight

By Christy Jordan-Fenton, illustrated by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Recommended for ages 6-9

This is the illustrator's own story! A girl who wants to learn to read travels far away to go to a school where they cut her hair and refuse to call her by her real name. Even though she faces the cruelty of a nun, Margaret holds on to her desire to read.

 

Book: We Sang You HomeWe Sang You Home

By Richard van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett
Recommended for ages 0-5

A rhyming book about the unique relationship between parents and their children, in particular about the bond new parents feel with their babies.

 

 

Book: When We Were AloneWhen We Were Alone

By David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett
Recommended for ages 4-8

A beautiful story about a little girl who begins to notice things about her grandmother as they work together in the garden. Why does she wear her hair in a braid? Why does she speak a different language? Why does she dress in such colourful clothes? The answers all relate back to the grandmother’s time at residential school.

 

Book: Stolen WordsStolen Words

By Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard
Recommended for ages 4-8

The story of a Cree girl and her grandfather that begins when she asks him how to say "grandfather" in Cree and he tells her that he doesn’t remember because his words were stolen long ago at residential school. The girl listens and sets out to help her grandfather find his words again.

 

Book: You Hold Me UpYou Hold Me Up

By Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel
Recommended for ages 3-7

A simple but powerful book about the importance of showing love, empathy and support for each other.

 

 

Book: The Water WalkerThe Water Walker

By Joanne Robertson
Recommended for ages 3-7

The story of a grandmother who walks to raise awareness of the need to protect our water (the giver of life) and our planet for future generations.

 

 

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox

By Danielle Daniel
Recommended for ages 5-8

In the Anishinaabe tradition of totem animals, this book shows children talking about why they relate to certain animals and wearing masks that represent their totem animal.

 

Book: Shi-shi-etkoShi-shi-etko

By Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Kim LaFave
Recommended for ages 6-8

Shi-shi-etko only has a few days before she leaves for residential school. During her last days at home, she collects memories and lessons from her family to take with her.

Indigenous video games

Honour Water

for iPad
Ages 4+

screen capture from Honour Water

screen capture from website

Created by artist and designer Elizabeth LaPensée, Honour Water is a free game featuring Anishinaabe songs and teachings about the importance of water and protecting it.

Never Alone (Kisima Innitchuna)

for PC, Mac, tablets and phones, PS4, PS3, XBox, Wii and Kindle
Ages 10+

graphic from game website

screen capture from game website

In Never Alone, you get to play as a young Inupiat girl and an arctic fox as they set out to find the source of the eternal blizzard that threatens the survival of everything they know. Play alone or with a friend or family member as you trek across the frozen tundra, leap across ice floes and swim through underwater ice caverns.

Spirits of Spring

for iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone
Ages 9+

screen capture

screen capture of game

Spirits of Spring is an adventure game set in Quebec about friendship and bullying. Three Indigenous boys have to hunt giant crows who stole their spirits in order to get them back. Players can play solo or with friends to solve puzzles and get through challenges.

Thunderbird Strike

for Windows PC, Android and iOS
Ages 9+

screen capture

screen capture from game website

Another Elizabeth LaPensée game, Thunderbird Strike lets players fly from the Tar Sands to the Great Lakes as a thunderbird and shoot lightning at a black snake that threatens to swallow the lands and waters of Turtle Island whole.

Sleep Guardian

for desktop computer

screen capture

screen capture from games website

A free web-based game called Sleep Guardian allows players to be a dreamcatcher and make sure the little girl they’re watching over has good dreams. It’s your job to catch all the bad dreams before they reach the little girl. Catch them and destroy them and if you can find some good dreams, you’re bound to win. You can play the game here.