#FestofAuthors22: 15 Books by Indigenous Authors to Read

#FestofAuthors22: 15 Books by Indigenous Authors to Read

5:36pm

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Stories have been shared on this land for thousands of years, and the land Toronto International Festival of Authors operates on is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. During the 43rd edition of the Festival, we are proud to have many Indigenous authors joining us on stage.

Check out the list of 15 books by Indigenous authors to read below, and be on the look out for links to Festival events still to come. In honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada on September 30, we’ve chosen to spotlight Strong Nations, an Indigenous-owned bookstore in British Columbia where you can purchase the titles.


Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories by Norma Dunning

Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning book cover

Drawing on both lived experience and cultural memory, Norma Dunning brings together six powerful new short stories centred on modern-day Inuk characters in Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories. Norma Dunning’s masterful storytelling uses humour and incisive detail to create compelling characters who discover themselves in a hostile land where prejudice, misogyny and inequity are most often found hidden in plain sight. Tainna won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for literature. Also be sure to pre-order Dunning’s next book, Kinauvit?: What’s Your Name? The Eskimo Disc System and a Daughter’s Search for her Grandmother.

See Norma Dunning in the following event:

Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism in A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections between the past and present, the personal and political. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.

See Alicia Elliot in the following event:

The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Laughing with the Trickster by Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway's Laughing with the Trickster book cover

Laughing with the Trickster provides brilliant, jubilant insights into the glory and anguish of life from one of the world’s most treasured Indigenous creators. Trickster is zany, ridiculous. The ultimate, over-the-top, madcap fool. Here to remind us that the reason for existence is to have a blast and to laugh ourselves silly.

See Tomson Highway in the following event:

The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Mighty Muskrats by Michael Hutchinson

Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!

See Michael Hutchinson in the following event:

Mighty Muskrats: Michael Hutchinson
October 1 at 4:30pm, Word Lab (Tent A)

Our Voice of Fire by Brandi Morin

Brandi Morin's Our Voice of Fire book cover

A wildfire of a debut memoir by internationally recognized French/Cree/Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin set to transform the narrative around Indigenous Peoples. Morin is also a survivor of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis and uses her experience to tell the stories of those who did not survive the rampant violence. Our Voice of Fire chronicles Morin’s journey to overcome enormous adversity and find her purpose, and her power, through journalism.

See Brandi Morin in the following event:

Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice, blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn. Moon of the Crusted Snow was the winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen award.

See Waubgeshig Rice in the following events:

A Different Page: Open Creation
September 30 at 12pm, South Lawn Tent

A Different Page Presented by Pratibha Arts
September 30 at 8pm, Lakeside Terrace

Rehearsals for Living by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson & Robyn Harding

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard's Rehearsals For Living book cover

When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters which grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, Maynard and Simpson create something new in Rehearsals for Living: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.

See Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in the following event:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in Concert
October 1 at 7:30pm, Concert Stage

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano book cover

Capturing the chaos and wonder of a precarious childhood, Cody Caetano delivers a fever dream coming-of-age garnished with a slang all his own. Half-Bads in White Regalia is an unforgettable debut that unspools a tangled family history with warmth, humour, and deep generosity.

Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón

Magodiz by Gabe Calderon book cover

Magodiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.

Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, a formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.

With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, of transcending gender, Magodiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.

The Walrus and the Caribou by Maika Harper

When the earth was new, words had the power to breathe life into the world. But when creating animals from breath, sometimes one does not get everything right on the first try! Based on a traditional Inuit story passed forward orally for generations in the South Baffin region of Nunavut, The Walrus and the Caribou shares with young readers the origin of the caribou and the walrus—and tells of how very different these animals looked when they were first conceived.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

The book cover for Lee Maracle's Celia's Song

Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia, a seer, and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu’Chahlnuth territory. Celia’s Song relates one Nuu’Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.

Blood by Tyler Pennock

Tyler Pennock's Blood book cover

Conceived in the same world as their acclaimed debut, Bones, Tyler Pennock’s Blood follows a Two-Spirit Indigenous person as they navigate urbanity, queerness, and a kaleidoscope of dreams, memory, and kinship. Pennock weaves longing, intimacy and Anishinaabe relationalities to recentre and rethink their speaker’s relationship to the living-never forgetting non-human kin. It is a reminder that Indigenous people carry the impacts of colonial history and wrestle with them constantly, exploring the relationships between spring and winter, ice and water, static things and things beginning to move, and what emerges in the thaw.

The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson

Morgan and Eli are Indigenous children who discover a portal at their foster home to another world, Askī; there they discover talking animal beings who connect them to traditional ways, as well as help them deal with the challenges in the real world. A fantasy for readers aged ten and up, the Misewa Saga (“misewa” is Cree for “all that is”) series reflects stories of the sky and the constellations held within its great canvas. Get your copy of Barren Grounds, Great Bear and Stone Child.

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga

Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, All Our Relations is a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples. In this urgent and incisive work, bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. The Indigenous experience in colonized nations are marked by the violent separation of Peoples from the land, the separation of families and the separation of individuals from traditional ways of life. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism.

Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel

Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design. Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration.


View the full festival reading list here!

Stories have been shared on this land for thousands of years, and the land Toronto International Festival of Authors operates on is home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. During the 43rd edition of the Festival, we are proud to have many Indigenous authors joining us on stage.

Check out the list of 15 books by Indigenous authors to read below, and be on the look out for links to Festival events still to come. In honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada on September 30, we’ve chosen to spotlight Strong Nations, an Indigenous-owned bookstore in British Columbia where you can purchase the titles.


Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories by Norma Dunning

Tainna: The Unseen Ones by Norma Dunning book cover

Drawing on both lived experience and cultural memory, Norma Dunning brings together six powerful new short stories centred on modern-day Inuk characters in Tainna: The Unseen Ones, Short Stories. Norma Dunning’s masterful storytelling uses humour and incisive detail to create compelling characters who discover themselves in a hostile land where prejudice, misogyny and inequity are most often found hidden in plain sight. Tainna won the 2021 Governor General’s Award for literature. Also be sure to pre-order Dunning’s next book, Kinauvit?: What’s Your Name? The Eskimo Disc System and a Daughter’s Search for her Grandmother.

See Norma Dunning in the following event:

Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre

A Mind Spread Out on the Ground by Alicia Elliot

In an urgent and visceral work that asks essential questions about the treatment of Native people in North America while drawing on intimate details of her own life and experience with intergenerational trauma, Alicia Elliott offers indispensable insight into the ongoing legacy of colonialism in A Mind Spread Out on the Ground. She engages with such wide-ranging topics as race, parenthood, love, mental illness, poverty, writing and representation, and in the process makes connections between the past and present, the personal and political. With deep consideration and searing prose, Elliott provides a candid look at our past, an illuminating portrait of our present and a powerful tool for a better future.

See Alicia Elliot in the following event:

The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Laughing with the Trickster by Tomson Highway

Tomson Highway's Laughing with the Trickster book cover

Laughing with the Trickster provides brilliant, jubilant insights into the glory and anguish of life from one of the world’s most treasured Indigenous creators. Trickster is zany, ridiculous. The ultimate, over-the-top, madcap fool. Here to remind us that the reason for existence is to have a blast and to laugh ourselves silly.

See Tomson Highway in the following event:

The Re-Read: Tomson Highway on Indigenous Mythology
September 28 at 8pm, Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Mighty Muskrats by Michael Hutchinson

Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee are four inseparable cousins growing up on the Windy Lake First Nation. Nicknamed the Mighty Muskrats for their habit of laughing, fighting, and exploring together, the cousins find that each new adventure adds to their reputation. In the midst of community conflict, family concerns, and environmental protests, the four get busy following every lead. From their base of operations in a fort made out of an old school bus, the Mighty Muskrats won’t let anything stop them from solving their case!

See Michael Hutchinson in the following event:

Mighty Muskrats: Michael Hutchinson
October 1 at 4:30pm, Word Lab (Tent A)

Our Voice of Fire by Brandi Morin

Brandi Morin's Our Voice of Fire book cover

A wildfire of a debut memoir by internationally recognized French/Cree/Iroquois journalist Brandi Morin set to transform the narrative around Indigenous Peoples. Morin is also a survivor of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis and uses her experience to tell the stories of those who did not survive the rampant violence. Our Voice of Fire chronicles Morin’s journey to overcome enormous adversity and find her purpose, and her power, through journalism.

See Brandi Morin in the following event:

Critical Conversation: Continuing to Act: Reconciling, Not Reconciliation
October 2 at 7pm, Studio Theatre

Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice

A daring post-apocalyptic novel from a powerful rising literary voice, blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn. Moon of the Crusted Snow was the winner of the 2019 OLA Forest of Reading Evergreen award.

See Waubgeshig Rice in the following events:

A Different Page: Open Creation
September 30 at 12pm, South Lawn Tent

A Different Page Presented by Pratibha Arts
September 30 at 8pm, Lakeside Terrace

Rehearsals for Living by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson & Robyn Harding

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Robyn Maynard's Rehearsals For Living book cover

When the world entered pandemic lockdown in spring 2020, Robyn Maynard, influential author of Policing Black Lives, and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, renowned artist, musician, and author of Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies, began writing each other letters which grew into a powerful exchange about where we go from here. By articulating to each other Black and Indigenous perspectives on our unprecedented here and now, Maynard and Simpson create something new in Rehearsals for Living: an urgent demand for a different way forward, and a poetic call to dream up other ways of ordering earthly life.

See Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in the following event:

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson in Concert
October 1 at 7:30pm, Concert Stage

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano

Half-Bads in White Regalia by Cody Caetano book cover

Capturing the chaos and wonder of a precarious childhood, Cody Caetano delivers a fever dream coming-of-age garnished with a slang all his own. Half-Bads in White Regalia is an unforgettable debut that unspools a tangled family history with warmth, humour, and deep generosity.

Màgòdiz by Gabe Calderón

Magodiz by Gabe Calderon book cover

Magodiz (Anishinabemowin, Algonquin dialect): a person who refuses allegiance to, resists, or rises in arms against the government or ruler of their country.

Everything that was green and good is gone, scorched away by a war that no one living remembers. The small surviving human population scavenges to get by; they cannot read or write and lack the tools or knowledge to rebuild. The only ones with any power are the mindless Enforcers, a formless spiritual entity that has infiltrated the world to subjugate the human population.

With themes of resistance, of ceremony as the conduit between realms, of transcending gender, Magodiz is a powerful and visionary reclamation that Two-Spirit people always have and always will be vital to the cultural and spiritual legacy of their communities.

The Walrus and the Caribou by Maika Harper

When the earth was new, words had the power to breathe life into the world. But when creating animals from breath, sometimes one does not get everything right on the first try! Based on a traditional Inuit story passed forward orally for generations in the South Baffin region of Nunavut, The Walrus and the Caribou shares with young readers the origin of the caribou and the walrus—and tells of how very different these animals looked when they were first conceived.

Celia’s Song by Lee Maracle

The book cover for Lee Maracle's Celia's Song

Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia, a seer, and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu’Chahlnuth territory. Celia’s Song relates one Nuu’Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.

Blood by Tyler Pennock

Tyler Pennock's Blood book cover

Conceived in the same world as their acclaimed debut, Bones, Tyler Pennock’s Blood follows a Two-Spirit Indigenous person as they navigate urbanity, queerness, and a kaleidoscope of dreams, memory, and kinship. Pennock weaves longing, intimacy and Anishinaabe relationalities to recentre and rethink their speaker’s relationship to the living-never forgetting non-human kin. It is a reminder that Indigenous people carry the impacts of colonial history and wrestle with them constantly, exploring the relationships between spring and winter, ice and water, static things and things beginning to move, and what emerges in the thaw.

The Misewa Saga by David A. Robertson

Morgan and Eli are Indigenous children who discover a portal at their foster home to another world, Askī; there they discover talking animal beings who connect them to traditional ways, as well as help them deal with the challenges in the real world. A fantasy for readers aged ten and up, the Misewa Saga (“misewa” is Cree for “all that is”) series reflects stories of the sky and the constellations held within its great canvas. Get your copy of Barren Grounds, Great Bear and Stone Child.

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward by Tanya Talaga

Based on her Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy series, All Our Relations is a powerful call for action, justice, and a better, more equitable world for all Indigenous Peoples. In this urgent and incisive work, bestselling and award-winning author Tanya Talaga explores the alarming rise of youth suicide in Indigenous communities in Canada and beyond. The Indigenous experience in colonized nations are marked by the violent separation of Peoples from the land, the separation of families and the separation of individuals from traditional ways of life. But, Talaga reminds us, First Peoples also share a history of resistance, resilience, and civil rights activism.

Whitemud Walking by Matthew James Weigel

Whitemud Walking is a genre-bending work of visual and lyric poetry, non-fiction prose, photography, and digital art and design. Using photos, documents, and recordings that are about or involve his ancestors, but are kept in archives, Weigel examines the consequences of this erasure and sequestration.


View the full festival reading list here!

5:36pm

Thursday, February 22

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