New Brunswick

6 books for New Brunswickers on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Palmater, originally from Point La Nim, joined Information Morning Moncton to give non-Indigenous New Brunswickers some recommendations about books to help understand reconciliation.

Comedian and bookworm Candy Palmater gives us her picks

“It took a lot of hemming and hawing, but I got it to six, which I know is one more than you asked me for. But that's as small a list as I could give you” said Palmater. (Submitted by Candy Palmater)

Comedian Candy Palmater is a big reader, as the people who loaded up her moving van can attest.

"When I moved from the East Coast to Toronto, the most expensive part of the move was moving my books," said Palmater. 

"The guys that loaded the trucks said, 'You have twelve thousand pounds of stuff and 8000 pounds of it is books.'"

Palmater, originally from Point La Nim, joined Information Morning Moncton to recommend a few books that can bring more understanding to what reconciliation is all about.

But she admits, it was hard to narrow down her list.

"It took a lot of hemming and hawing, but I got it to six, which I know is one more than you asked me for," said Palmater. 

"But that's as small a list as I could give you."

Here are six books Palmater recommends to read for this first ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga

Seven Fallen Feathers is the true story of a series of deaths of Indigenous children living in Thunder Bay over the span of a decade.

The children were attending high school in the city, far away from their home communities.

Tanya Talaga highlights the lives of seven Indigenous students in Seven Fallen Feathers. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/House of Anansi)

Palmater said the book shows the long lasting effects of the residential school system, years after the last school was closed.

"This isn't a book about a hundred years ago. This is a current story, and I really feel strongly that all Canadians should pick this book up at some point, as painful as it is to read, to just get a real sense of it," said Palmater.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

The Inconvenient Indian is a sometimes humorous, sometimes dark, sometimes satirical look at the history of colonialism in Canada.

Author Thomas King explores historical events from a different perspective, while also looking at the way Indigenous people are portrayed in the media and pop culture.

Palmater said she considered recommending a more academic book in this place.

Author Thomas King explores historical events from a different perspective, as well as the way Indigenous people are portrayed in the media and pop culture.

But she changed her mind because she understood some readers quickly bore of dry writing.

"It'll keep you engaged," said Palmater. 

"It'll give you a chuckle from time to time, but it teaches you a lot about the history of Indigenous people in North America."

Out of the Depths by Isabelle Knockwood

Out of the Depths is a history of the Shubenacadie Residential School in Nova Scotia, the only residential school that operated in the Maritimes.

Isabelle Knockwood, the author, was a survivor of the Shubenacadie school and interviewed 42 other survivors about their experiences.

Candy Palmater is a broadcaster, humourist and writer, originally from Point La Nim, New Brunswick 19:06

Palmater said Knockwood's book was one of the first to bring survivor's stories to a wider audience.

"It was the first time that I got to really hear, because she wrote this long before the TRC, where people were starting to give witness," said Palmater.

"It was the first time I read somebody really saying,'This is what my childhood was like.'"

My Conversations with Canadians by Lee Maracle

My Conversation with Canadians has a straightforward premise, with Maracle tackling questions she has often been asked but didn't have the time to answer.

These questions run the gamut from citizenship, prejudice and reconciliation.

“I chuckled because I thought, ‘Oh yes, I get that question all the time, too,’” said Palmater. (Columpa Bobb/BookThug)

She draws on her life experience to fully explore them.

Palmater said she can relate to a lot of the questions that were posed to Maracle.

"I chuckled because I thought, 'Oh yes, I get that question all the time, too,'" said Palmater.

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

Indian Horse is the fictional tale of a Ojibway boy who is sent to a residential school in the 50s.

He is forbidden to practice or explore his people's culture but finds solace in an aspect of popular Canadian culture, hockey.

Richard Wagamese's novel Indian Horse was a finalist in Canada Reads 2013. (CBC)

He becomes a great player, but his life continues the be deeply affected by the violence of residential schools and systematic racism.

The book was turned into a film back in 2017, but Palmater has a piece of advice often advocated by readers.

"Folks please watch the movie after you read the book. Read the book first," said Palmater.

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

Five Little Indians tells the fictional stories of five residential school survivors.

Eventually leaving school, they find themselves in one of the most notorious neighbourhoods in Canada, downtown east Vancouver.

There they each travel a different road to try to find their place in the world.

Five Little Indians is a novel by Michelle Good. (Harper Perennial, Candice Camille)

Palmater said she will be interviewing the author Michelle Good in a few months and is really excited about the book.

"It's just a beautiful story of how that experience affected these five people," said Palmater.

"It's a brand new book. But, you know, get on the list if you're a library user to get your hands on it. I think you'll really enjoy the read."

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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