Indigenous summer reading: 3 picks by graphic novelist David Robertson
Author of The Helen Betty Osborne story champions Thomas King and Joseph Boyden
In this on-going summer series authors, celebrities and CBC personalities share their favourite indigenous books, the ones they want to read this summer and the ones they think everyone should read.
- 3 top picks by Shelagh Rogers, host of The Next Chapter
- 3 top picks by Lisa Charleyboy, host of New Fire
David Robertson is an award-winning graphic novelist and storyteller who is an advocate for educating youth on indigenous history and contemporary issues. Here are his picks:
I remember reading this book and marveling at how it took this incredibly complex idea and made it relatable and engaging. And that's important, too, when you're discussing indigenous mythology and traditional beliefs and practices.
Green Grass, Running Water made Thomas King one my heroes (I know, get in line Robertson), and it was just a great piece of literature.
Lately when I've been reading, my selection has been very deliberate. I have only sought out, and read, amazing literature. Stuff that I've heard is great. I do the same with movies, but that's a whole other article.
A recommendation: I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven
It is a short and simple novel, but again grappled with some tough ideas that are still relevant today. The book is about a young vicar named Mark who's sent to a First Nations village in British Columbia. The man has no clue about indigenous culture, and, what's more, he's unknowingly dying from an unnamed terminal illness. Unbeknownst to Mark, he's been sent there to learn about life as he dies.
Pretty heavy, sure, but how the book unravels the beauty of a culture from a non-First Nations perspective is brilliant. The relationship between Mark and the village becomes reciprocal as he is accepted as one of the tribe, and it all comes from an openness to give and receive knowledge.
What a concept, eh? (That's me being so Canadian).
Finally, as my search for great literature continues, we come to the book I want to read. Tough call.
This year I've made it a point to binge-read Miriam Toews' works, as one would watch, say, House of Cards. I'm almost done, too.
Most importantly, though, from what I've heard about The Orenda it's a work I would love: a book that teaches history in a challenging way, and does so by investigating different perspectives of that history. We need to do that more, think about how we view others and how others view us, and make efforts to take that knowledge and build stronger relationships.
Literature plays a big part in that kind of social change. Try out the books I've mentioned and play your part.