While honouring, respecting, learning about, and celebrating Indigenous culture and history should not be confined to one day, or one week a year, the first National Day for Truth & Reconciliation coming up on September 30th reminds us that these conversations begin at home.
As parents, we are taking this opportunity to speak with our children about both specific topics like residential schools, and broader themes of racism, privilege, inequality, and inclusion. These are very difficult but important conversations that bring up questions that we do not have all the answers to, but one place we can start is sharing books and movies with our children that show more diverse characters and stories, created by and benefiting Indigenous creators. We know that these conversations are important and that we need to do more to ensure that our children's lives are as inclusive and diverse as possible, and to commit to continuing education and ongoing conversations.
I WANT TO EXPAND THE DIVERSITY IN THE BOOKS WE CONSUME BUT WHERE DO I START?
We've pulled together a list of books featuring racially diverse characters, authors and subject matter. We believe it is important to not only show our children the painful truths of Indigenous experience both past and present, but to introduce them to the beautiful, joyful, and rich culture that thrives in First Nations, Inuit, & Métis communities across this country. We hope that this will expand the characters that all of our children see every day and continue important conversations on community, love, healing, and cooperation.
We have included links to purchase most of these books from several BC-based, Indigenous-owned bookstores including:
- Strong Nations: An Indigenous owned and operated online Book and Gift store, as well as a Publishing house in Nanaimo, BC. They work hard to provide authentic books and gifts in our online store, and are proud to say that ALL the resources that Strong Nations creates are Made in Canada.
- Massy Books: Massy Books is 100% Indigenous owned and operated and a member of the Stó:lō Business Association operating on the traditional, ancestral, unceded, and occupied territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
- Iron Dog Books: An independent bookstore selling used, new, and remaindered books. Find their booktruck roaming to various events around the Lower Mainland, or visit their brick-and-mortar shop at 2671 East Hastings Street in Vancouver!
- Raven Reads: An Indigenous & Women-Owned Canadian subscription box of Indigenous literature and giftware for kids and adults.
One kiss, two kiss, three kiss, four! So many kisses and so many more. From bestselling author Richard Van Camp comes a delightful counting book that honors families and can be used to praise your little ones as they learn to count. Ten kisses from your sweet baby might not be enough to get you through this adorable board book, so you'll just have to read it over and over! This book is a dual-language book in English and Plains Cree Y dialect, translated by Mary Cardinal Collins.
Alan Syliboy, author of The Thundermaker, showcases his vibrant artwork in this new baby board book. Colourful images depicting Canadian animals like moose, whales, and caribou, and more makes this vibrant book a perfect introduction to the Mi'kmaw language. With English and Mi'kmaq translations for the animal names on every page, babies will enjoy the vivid paintings while they learn new words and discover a bit of Mi'kmaw culture in a fun way.
Ga's / The Train is a dual-language (Mi'gmaq and English) story of healing from intergenerational trauma. Ashley meets her great-uncle by the old train tracks near their community where, years ago, he and other children were told to board the train before being taken to residential school where their lives were changed forever. The legacy of abuse of Indigenous people is something that affects all of us, and this book is an important resource to start that conversation with kids.
Inuki lives in Iglulik, Nunavut. It is his fifth birthday! He can’t wait for his party at the community hall. There is cake to eat and presents to open, but celebrating with his family and friends is Inuki’s favourite gift of all!
Rita Joe's powerful poem is presented anew in this children's picture book with illustrations from Pauline Young. A story of recovering what was lost in residential school, I Lost My Talk will raise conversation about language as a vehicle for truth and reconciliation.
Former Halifax Poet Laureate and second-generation residential school survivor Rebecca Thomas writes honestly and powerfully in this companion piece to 'I Lost My Talk' featuring vibrant illustrations by Mi'kmaw artist Pauline Young.
An Indigenous teen girl is caught between two worlds, both real and virtual, in the YA fantasy debut from bestselling Indigenous author Wab Kinew. Perfect for fans of Ready Player One and the Otherworld series.
This teen novel, written by Iqaluit-based Inuit author Aviaq Johnston, is a coming-of-age story that follows a young shaman named Pitu as he learns to use his powers and ultimately finds himself lost in the world of the spirits.
INDIGENOUS MOVIES & TV SHOWS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES
We're thrilled to see more Indigenous-created movies & tv shows for both our little and big kids. Below we've listed some of our favourites, and some on our 'To Watch' list! The list is divided by age, however we all know that every child is different, and we always recommend parent's pre-screening content before watching with your child.
What is your favourite Indigenous-created movie or TV show?
Heather is a Toronto born mama of two whose parenting journey has taken her family coast to coast across Canada. When she’s not whipping up recipes for the Healthy Family Living website or sharing the latest fun Vancouver events on HFL’s Facebook page, she’s a freelance writer that has recently been published in an anthology entitled BIG, as well as in the Huffington Post, as she and her hubby of 13 years attempt to keep up with their two spirited girls and 3 fur babies!