When we want a peek into worlds and experiences different than our own, we often turn to art, music, literature, and film to hear the stories of others. We also use these media for the opposite reason – to see our own experiences reflected, and to know we’re not alone.
More often than not, media are created, controlled and marketed by white men. We see their experiences reflected in Hollywood films, bestselling novels, and on television. This white dominance in the media means there is a gaping hole when it comes to honest and meaningful portrayals of minorities, women and people of colour in the arts and media.
Indigenous people in particular are often simplified, stereotyped, or omitted altogether from the media, presenting the false idea that Indigenous people don’t exist in contemporary society. This trickles down and perpetuates the racism and misinformation that Indigenous people face, and means there are few avenues to find genuine Aboriginal stories in mainstream media.
So what to do when all you want is a good book by an Indigenous author, about Indigenous people? Here’s a starter list. If you want, pass it on to your non-Indigenous friends, so they can look into the window of Indigenous experience in Canada, from the point of view of Indigenous people.
This list is not exhaustive, and only contains one book by each author.
1. Just Pretending by Lisa Bird-Wilson (short stories)
2. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (historical fiction)
3. Half-Breed by Maria Campbell (biography)
4. Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich (historical fiction)
5. Kiss of the Fur Queen by Tomson Highway (historical fiction)
6. The Reason You Walk by Wab Kinew (autobiography/memoir)
7. The Back of the Turtle by Thomas King (nonfiction)
8. Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (fiction)
9. Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle (fiction)
10. Lightfinder by Aaron Paquette (young adult fiction)
11. Legacy by Waubgeshig Rice (fiction)
12. Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (fiction)
13. They Called Me Number One: Secrets and Survival at an Indian Residential School by Bev Sellars (autobiography/memoir)
14. Islands of Decolonial Love by Leanne Simpson (short stories/poetry)
15. The Lesser Blessed by Richard Van Camp (young adult fiction)
16. Keeper n’ Me by Richard Wagamese (fiction)