Indigenous Books and Programs for Families

June 20, 2017 | RayL

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Indigenous Dancers

To honour and celebrate Canada's Indigenous community, I have invited Tara Johnson (Native Child and Family Services) to share some excellent children's books written by Indigenous writers. These titles are great for all ages. 

Toronto Public Library offers a wide range of materials by and about the indigenous community in North America, with a specific emphasis on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in Canada. Discover some of the excellent Indigenous programs on offer this month.


Guest Blogger: Tara Johnson

Our community library has a wide range of books written by indigenous authors. Here are some of our favorites!



SkySisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose; Illustrated by Brian Deines; ages 5-8

SkySisters, written by Jan Bourdeau Waboose, tells the tale of two Ojibway sisters on a journey to see the SkySpirits, or Northern Lights.  This beautiful story follows the sisters' voyage, from the perspective of the younger sister Alex, as they walk through the northern wilderness. Brian Deines beautifully illustrates this book with his vivid imagery, taking the reader on the journey with the young sisters.  


Missing Nimama

Missing Nimama by Melanie Florence; Illustrations by Francois Thisdale; Ages: 13+

Missing Nimama, written by Melanie Florence, follows the story of a young girl who grows up and experiences life’s milestones without her mother. While this book is a work of fiction, this story highlights the reality for many indigenous families. There are hundreds of women in the indigenous community who are missing or have been murdered and never make it home to their loved ones. As this book deals with sensitive material, it’s recommended for children 13 years of age and up.


Spirit of the Sea

The Spirit of the Sea by Rebecca Hainnu; Illustrated by Hwei Lim; Ages: 4 - 8

The Spirit of the Sea written by Rebecca Hainnu is one of the many versions told of the Inuktituk mythological tale of Nuliajuq, a woman who never wanted to marry and became the spirit of the sea. This children’s book is stunningly illustrated by Hwei Lim. The illustrations showcase the shades and moods of the sea and the magical spirit that lives beneath it.


Fatty Legs

Fatty Legs by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and Christy Jordan-Fenton; Artwork by Liz Amini-Holmes; Ages: 9 – 12

Fatty Legs tells the true story of Margaret Fenton. As a young girl growing up on a small island above the Arctic Circle, she became curious about the outsider nuns and priests who travelled from distant lands. This story speaks of her experience at the Catholic Residential School in Aklavik, Northwest Territories. Fatty Legs is written by Margaret Pokiak-Fenton and her daughter in-law Christy Jordan-Fenton. Artwork was provided by Liz Amini-Holmes. This novel provides actual photos from Margaret’s childhood, maps of the geographic region and translations of Inuvialuktun, the language of the Aboriginal people of the Western Arctic.