International Women's Day 2022: Indigenous Authors
Happy International Womens' Day!
This year, I've decided to highlight women-identified Indigenous authors who have made an impact within and beyond Canadian literature. I'm sharing one book by each author, but you are welcome to check out more of their works too.
If you'd like to read books by some of these authors with a group of friends or colleagues, some of these books are also available as a part of our Book Club Sets to Go: Indigenous sets.
Please note that all authors have their nation(s) next to their name in brackets. All descriptions for materials shared below are from TPL's catalogue.
Lee Maracle (Sto:lo)
Lee Maracle was one of the grandmothers of Indigenous literature. She had a major impact on Canadian literature as well. She also has mentored many Indigenous authors through the years, some of whom are included in this list. You can check out a full list of her works on our website, but I'm highlighting her first book below.
Bobbi Lee, Indian Rebel by Lee Maracle
"Lee's autobiographical exploration of post-colonial tensions in Toronto circa 1960-1980 sheds light on the existing racist and sexist sentiments affecting Indigenous women."
Maria Campbell (Métis)
Maria is another grandmother of Indigenous literature. Her first book and memoir, Halfbreed, is one of the most widely taught texts in Canadian literature. Halfbreed, which was initially released in 1973, was re-released in 2018 to include a missing passage. You can check out Halfbreed, as well as the many other books she has written and contributed to, on our website.
Halfbreed by Maria Campbell
"An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a Métis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell's Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame."
Ma-Nee Chacaby (Ojibwe-Cree)
Ma-Nee is a two-spirited elder and mentor, sharing Anishinaabe teachings and stories, and supporting access to ceremony for 2SLGBTQ+ Indigenous peoples.
A Two-Spirit Journey: The Autobiography of a Lesbian Ojibwa-Cree Elder by Ma-Nee Chacaby (Ojibwe-Cree)
"A Two-Spirit Journey is Ma-Nee Chacaby's extraordinary account of her life as an Ojibwa-Cree lesbian. [...] Her memoir provides unprecedented insights into the challenges still faced by many Indigenous people."
Cherie Dimaline (Métis)
Cherie is an award-winning author and editor, with The Marrow Thieves being one of the hottest series in Young Adult literature right now. Cherie was very lucky to have been mentored by both Lee Maracle and Maria Campbell. TPL was honoured to have her as one of our writers-in-residence in 2015. You can check out her books on our website and of course, read The Marrow Thieves and the recently released sequel, Hunting by Stars.
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
"In a future world ravaged by global warming, people have lost the ability to dream, and the dreamlessness has led to widespread madness. The only people still able to dream are North America's indigenous population - and it is their marrow that holds the cure for the rest of the world. But getting the marrow - and dreams - means death for the unwilling donors. Driven to flight, a 15-year-old and his companions struggle for survival, attempt to reunite with loved ones, and take refuge from the "recruiters" who seek them out to bring them to the marrow-stealing 'factories.'"
Susan Aglukark (Inuit)
Susan is a Juno Award winning singer/songwriter and author. She is also the Founder and Chair of the Arctic Rose Foundation, which "gives Inuit and Northern Indigenous youth a safe space to participate and grow through Indigenous-led, arts-based and culturally-grounded after-school programs in their communities." You can read and listen to her works on our website.
Una Huna : What is This? by Susan Aglukark, illustrated by Amanda Sandland and Danny Christopher
"Ukpik loves living in her camp in the North with her family. When a captain from the south arrives to trade with Ukpiks̉ father, Ukpik is excited to learn how to use the forks, knives, and spoons he brings with him. At first, Ukpik enjoys teaching the other children how to use these new tools. But soon, she starts to wonder if theyl̉l need to use the new tools all the time, and if that means that everything in camp will change. After a conversation with her grandmother, Ukpik realizes that even though she will learn many new things, her love for her family and camp will never change."
Lynn Gehl (Algonquin)
"Gehl’s latest book, Gehl v Canada, is the documentation of her 34-year fight to change Canada’s Indian Act regarding unknown and unstated paternity, a harmful colonial legacy that has adversely affected generations of Indigenous women. It is also the celebration of Gehl’s tenacious, brave advocacy for Indigenous women and children in the face of colonial oppression. [...] Using Indigenous methods of first-person experience, embodied knowledge, emotional knowledge, observation, reading, writing, role-modelling, learning by doing, repetition, introspection, and storytelling, Gehl shares the journey to her court victory."
Sheila Watt-Cloutier (Inuit)
Sheila is an advocate showing how climate change is impacting human rights in Northern communities. "She was also the Canadian President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) from 1995 to 2002, and subsequently became the International Chair for the ICC, where she represented Inuit from four countries until 2006."
"The Right to Be Cold explores the parallels between safeguarding the Arctic and the survival of Inuit culture – and ultimately the world – in the face of past, present, and future environmental degradation."
Would you like to recommend any titles by women-identified Indigenous authors? Tell us in the comments below!