COLUMN: Authors, aboriginality, and you

Summer solstice. It’s June 21; the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator.

Eden Robinson and Thomas King are two aboriginal authors whose work can be found in the Nelson Public Library collection.

Summer solstice. It’s June 21; the sun’s zenith is at its furthest point from the equator. The days are long, the birds are singing late into the evening and it’s National Aboriginal Day.

June 21 was chosen as National Aboriginal Day in Canada because the longest day of the year has, historically, been a time when indigenous peoples and communities have celebrated their culture.

This year, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report out (and in our collection), it’s both a celebration and a sobering reminder of the work that must be done to build a better Canada.

Canada is a nation of many peoples (Multiculturalism Day follows on June 27), and it’s important that we honour our First Peoples. It’s about learning, talking, and understanding, and there are lots of ways we can do this.

Touchstones Museum of Art and History will celebrate all week with educational displays and activities in the front foyer. Upstairs, the beautifully designed permanent exhibition describes the historical presence of the Sinixt and Ktunaxa peoples in this region with photographs and artifacts. Everybody should make a point of visiting the museum’s second floor.

The library has helped the Touchstones event by creating a reading list for kids and adults, including great titles such as (for kids), A is for Aboriginal by Joseph Maclean and Brendan Heard, As Long as the Rivers Flow by Larry Loyie, and Owl Seeking Spirit: Kootenai Indian Stories.

For adults, there’s Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese and Me Artsy by Drew Hayden Taylor. Tracy Lindberg’s Birdie was a Canada Reads finalist, and The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King won the RBC Taylor Prize.

Indigenous authors rock.

Tomson Highway’s The Kiss of the Fur Queen draws a stark picture of residential school in a brilliant novel; Joseph Boyden’s Three Day Road haunts me still, as does The Orenda.

Local volunteers recently recorded The First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style by Lee Maracle in order to create an audiobook for the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS), which provides reading materials for people with print disabilities.

The author generously provided pronunciations for words written in the Stó:lō language.

More books to read up on some of the greater region’s history include Geography of Memory: Recovering Stories of a Landscape’s First People by Eileen Delehanty Pearkes and Keeping the Lakes Way by Paula Pryce.

Autobiographies such as Drags Grizzly by Chris Luke offer an intimate window on First Nations experience.

Our collection includes poets and playwrights, YA and kidlit authors. Room magazine’s 14 aboriginal women writers to read this summer includes authors Marilyn Dumont and Eden Robinson, also in our collection; CBC’s reading list includes Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle, and They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars.

BC book champion Alan Twigg’s book Aboriginality offers insight into 170 aboriginal authors and illustrators, from Pauline Johnson to Mourning Dove, Gregory Scofield to Roy Henry Vickers.

If you’re thinking about who to read, it’s a great place to start.

Or, you can check out the library’s display of aboriginal books, audiobooks, and DVDs, a hand-picked sampling from our collection.

Take up our “Read Around the World” summer challenge by reading a book set in a Canadian province written by a descendant of that province’s First People.

Books by aboriginal authors are smart, thoughtful, funny, insightful, edgy, difficult, and beautiful. Just like the authors themselves! And we are so very lucky to have them in our midst.

Anne DeGrace is the adult services co-ordinator at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. For more information go to nelsonlibrary.ca.

 

Just Posted

RDCK approves loan request to remediate Salmo tailings site

The H.B. Mine tailings pond poses a risk of toxic contamination

Leafs stretch winning streak to seven

Nelson routed Golden 7-3 on Saturday

VIDEO: John Dooley elected Nelson’s mayor

Logtenberg, Anderson, Woodward, Renwick, Morrison and Page elected to council

15 new mayors to take office across the Kootenays

Here’s a look at the highlights from across the Kootenay region in B.C.

Castlegar voters choose Tassone as new mayor

All incumbent councillors also returned

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

AP Exclusive: Stephen Hawking’s wheelchair, thesis for sale

The online auction features 22 items from Hawking, including his doctoral thesis on the origins of the universe, with the sale scheduled for 31 October and 8 November.

In Khashoggi case: Saudi calls, ‘body double’ after killing

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman called the son of Jamal Khashoggi, the kingdom announced early Monday, to express condolences for the death of the journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul by officials that allegedly included a member of the royal’s entourage.

Alleged serial killer Bruce McArthur waives right to preliminary hearing

Bruce McArthur, a 67-year-old self-employed landscaper, has been ordered to stand trial on eight counts of first-degree murder.

N.B. village faces backlash after council raises ‘straight flag’

Chipman Mayor Carson Atkinson says the flag met the village council’s criteria because it “recognizes, accepts and respects the rights of individuals under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

B.C. oncologist changing the face of breast cancer treatment

Dr. Juanita Crook, a Kelowna oncologist, has seen 100 per cent success using brachytherapy to treat breast cancer in some patients.

Most Read