5 books by indigenous authors to read over the holidays

If you need a break during the holidays, CBC Aboriginal has got you covered. From poetry and comics to memoirs, five books that reflect indigenous reality

From poetry and comics to memoirs, these books reflect indigenous reality

Life Among the Qallunaat by Inuit author Mini Aodla Freeman is among the five books by indigenous authors chosen by CBC Aboriginal. (Niels Jenson)

If you need a break during the holidays, CBC Aboriginal has got you covered.

It's been a stellar year for indigenous authors, who have offered up everything from recollections of culture shock to graphic novels that challenge stereotypes.

Our own Rosanna Deerchild, host of CBC Radio One's Unreserved, released Calling Down the Sky in November, a book of poetry about the effects of the residential school system, while Wab Kinew revealed the joy and pain of reconciliation in his memoir, The Reason You Walk.

But the selection of reading material doesn't end there.

Here are five books by indigenous authors released in 2015 that you should add to your reading pile.

Life Among the Qallunaat

Life among the Qallunaat by Mini Aodla Freeman (supplied)
Life Among the Qallunaat is Mini Aodla Freeman's story of moving to Ottawa from James Bay in Canada's North.

"I used to cross the street on red lights to make sure everybody saw me crossing. I didn't know red and green lights had a difference," she recalls.

First published in 1978, 3,000 copies of the book collected dust in a basement at Indian and Northern Affairs.

Freeman said it would be three years before before someone found them and began distributing them in the North.

The book, while well-known at home, was unheard of in the south until it was rediscovered and published by the University of Manitoba Press. The First Voices, First Texts series publishes lost or under-appreciated texts by indigenous writers.

MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection

Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection (ah comics)
Thanks to a successful online fundraising campaign, self-admitted girl geek Hope Nicholson edited this collection of indigenous stories designed to break through stereotypes. 

MOONSHOT was created to push back against those traditional — and expected — depictions of indigenous characters and story lines.

Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, Volume One

Volume one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report is in stores now. (CBC)
McGill-Queen's University Press won't have the complete six-volume final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on shelves until early 2016.

In the meantime, why not pick up the summary? It includes information about the history of residential schools, the legacy of that school system, and the full text of the commission's 94 recommendations for action to address that legacy.


Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Harper Collins)
Harvard-educated Tracy Lindberg is Cree and Métis from northern Alberta.

Her novel, Birdie, tells the story of Bernice Meetoos, a Cree woman who leaves her home in northern Alberta to gain a better understanding of the messages on the television show The Frugal Gourmet and, possibly, meet Jesse from The Beachcombers.

Her adventure doesn't turn out quite as she had hoped.

The Right To Be Cold

In The Right to be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier (CBC)
The former head of the international Inuit Circumpolar Council and nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, author and activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier chronicles the impact climate change has had on northern communities and makes the case that this environmental crisis is indeed a human-rights issue.

Weaving together environmental, cultural and economic issues, Watt-Cloutier makes a passionate and personal plea for change.