Black Loyalists in New Brunswick by Stephen Davidson

Gone are the days of extolling Canada as the northern terminus of the “Underground Railroad” that served to funnel Black slaves to so-called freedom north of the 49th parallel. Now, thankfully, we are seeing books that put Canada’s treatment of such Blacks under a microscope and the findings are anything but something to be proud of. Another way many Blacks arrived in Canada were on ships that carried them to what is present-day New Brunswick.…

Warrior Life: Indigenous Resistance and Resurgence by Pam Palmater

In the introduction to Warrior Life, Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair explains that in Anishnaabemowin, the word for warrior, ogichidaa, means a person “who dedicates their entire life to building, sustaining and protecting community” (ix). Pamela Palmater embodies this practice in her life, and also in this book.

Warrior Life is a collection of Palmater’s essays previously published in journals and blogs, including Indigenous Nationhood, Lawyer’s Daily, and Maclean’s.…

Gutter Child by Jael Richardson

Jael Richardson’s debut novel, Gutter Child (2021, HarperCollins Canada)* is a forceful one that shines a spotlight on racism, colonization and the struggle to get out from under an imposed debt that only death will bring freedom from. It is a work of creative fiction that strongly resonates in the age of Black Lives Matter and other Black activist issues.

Set in an imaginary world (an apartheid state, not unlike South Africa) where the colonizers have pushed the Indigenous tribes so far back from the coast that they eventually revolt, but lose the war.…

Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard

Policing Black Lives is the work of Montreal-based Black feminist activist and educator, Robyn Maynard. Maynard brings her considerable expertise to this book, which is packed with information about the history and continued oppression of Black people in Canada. Policing Black Lives offers a frank and exceptionally well-researched perspective on the true nature of Canada’s relationship with its Black citizens which began with the forced migration and enslavement of Black people, and continues to this day with systemic oppression in many Canadian institutions.…

The Hermit of Africville by Jon Tattrie (New Edition)

Jon Tattrie paints a bleak picture of the destruction of Africville through the eyes of a lifelong protestor, Eddie Carvery.  Carvery grew up in Africville, a black community in the northern section of Halifax. In the 1960s he watched the city force residents from their homes and raze the properties, often without permission or knowledge of the homeowners. Many left their home with only what they could carry.…

Pearleen Oliver: Canada’s Black Crusader for Civil Rights, Edited by Ronald Caplan

As the Black Lives Matter movement advances, there have been many, many new books released focussing on the history of slavery, segregation and outright racism that existed and still exists in Canada. This is particularly true in Atlantic Canada where many former slaves and black Loyalists sought freedom and new lives, only to face the same issues they were escaping from in the Thirteen Colonies.…

What the Living Do by Maggie Dwyer

Until the age of twelve, Georgia Lee Kay-Stern believed she was Jewish—the story of her Cree birth family had been kept secret. Now she’s living on her own and attending first-year university, and with her adoptive parents on sabbatical in Costa Rica, the old questions are back. What does it mean to be Native? How could her life have been different?

Five Little Indians by Michelle Good

I couldn’t put Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians down. She offers beautifully, well-rounded, fully-human characters in a story about the resilience and fragility of the human spirit. The book follows five small children who are taken from the homes and have to face the abuse and isolation of a church-run residential on the Central Coast of B.C.

Longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize 2020, this book will stay with me for the rest of my life.…

The Talking Drum by Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton’s debut novel, The Talking Drum, explores various power structures at work in urban America in the 1970s. The novel follows three intertwined sets of characters: Sydney and Malachi Stallworth, Della Tolliver and her boyfriend Kwamé Rodriguez, and Omar and Natalie Bassari. In different ways, the overarching impacts of racism and gentrification weigh on each character, and the changes occurring in their respective communities of Liberty Hill and Petite Africa form the backdrop for a study of class issues, racial tensions, sexism, and community resilience.  

Place is central to the novel.…

Talking to Dr. Nora Gold About the Tenth Anniversary of JewishFiction.net

I have found the various writing communities in Canada to be very supportive of each other, and JewishFiction.net certainly fills an important niche in this country. Jewish Fiction .net is the online literary journal that was founded by Dr. Nora Gold, who continues to act as editor-in-chief to this day. Dr. Gold is also a published author herself, with 2016’s The Dead Man (Inanna Publications) being her most recent.…

Land-Water-Sky / Ndè-Tı-Yat’a By Katłıà

Land-Water-Sky/Ndè-Tı-Yat’a is the debut novel from Dene author Katłįà. Set in Canada’s far northwest, this layered composite novel traverses space and time, from a community being stalked by a dark presence, a group of teenagers out for a dangerous joyride, to an archeological site on a mysterious island that holds a powerful secret.

In a recent edition of Atlantic Books Today, Chris Benjamin stated regarding IndigiLit: “Stories written by people from cultures that have been tied to this land far, far longer than my own show me things settler writers cannot.”…

The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by Jean Teillet

Some books are there to offer the kinds of stories that can light on our paths and help us figure out a way forward. The North-West is Our Mother: The Story of Louis Riel’s People, the Métis Nation by historian Jean Teillet has been that kind of book to me.

I’ve been writing about the life of my great-grandfather Léon Robert Goulet, a Métis fiddler who was born in Lorette, Manitoba, in the middle of Métis homeland that Teillet documents.…

Cottagers and Indians, by Drew Hayden Taylor

Taylor’s two-person play Cottagers and Indians was inspired by a years-long dispute between cottage owners on Pigeon Lake in Ontario and an Anishnawbe man seeding manoomin (wild rice) in their waterways.

In the play, Maureen Poole, a white woman at her lakeside split-level ranch house, and Arthur Copper, an Indigenous man in his canoe, face off over his seeding and harvesting of the once-flourishing Indigenous food, manoomin.…

Toward the North: Stories by Chinese Canadian Writers, edited by Hua Laura Wu, Xueqing Xu, and Corinne Bieman Davies

Toward the North: Stories by Chinese Canadian Writers is a thoughtfully coordinated anthology by editors Hua Laura Wu, Xueqing Xu, and Corinne Bieman Davies. Each story feels like it is presented in exactly the right place and at exactly the right moment in relation to the other stories it shares a cover with. The over-arching theme of the entire collection is Chinese transnational and cross-cultural life experience, and some other common shared themes include the relationship with one’s family, the significance of names, language barriers, and Western vs. …

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

These days I’ve been thinking about the importance of being able to recognize your self and your people in the literature you are reading and that’s one of the most important offerings from Jesse Thistle’s memoir From the Ashes. Of course, his story should be read by all non-Indigenous people who want to understand the impacts of intergenerational colonial trauma among Indigenous people living in Canada today.…