Speaking our truth A journey of reconciliation

Monique Gray Smith, 1968-

Book - 2017

"This nonfiction book examines how we can foster reconciliation with Indigenous people at individual, family, community and national levels"--

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Subjects
Published
Victoria, British Columbia : Orca Book Publishers 2017.
Language
English
Physical Description
159 pages : illustrations, color map ; 24 cm
Issued also in electronic formats
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781459815834
1459815831
Main Author
Monique Gray Smith, 1968- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Delving into nonfiction, Smith invites middle-grade readers to accompany her on what she calls a journey of reconciliation through Canada's history. The book's title is distilled from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC, 2010–15), and the text aims to fill the gap in school curriculum about Canada's First Nations Peoples, with a focus on the residential schools. Smith's narrative tone is inviting and friendly, often addressing the reader directly as she takes them from the earliest moments of colonial contact, through the Indian Act of 1894, traumatic residential school experiences, forced sterilization, Indigenous resistance, the 94 Calls to Action of the TRC, and the ways today's children can be allies and actors in the ongoing process of reconciliation and anti-oppression. Maps, photo illustrations, sidebars, glossaries, personal narratives from residential-school survivors, teachings from Elders, quotes, and extracts from the TRC report provide important text features and add texture. Readers from south of the Canadian border might be inspired to start asking questions about their own history. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Smith (My Heart Fills with Happiness) thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada's residential schools, the longest-running of which only closed in 1996. The forced relocation of indigenous children into these schools over a period of more than 160 years—separating them from their families and culture, and frequently subjecting them to harsh punishments, as well as physical and sexual abuse—is a subject that needs to be faced head-on, Smith explains: "It is critical for us as a country to tell his truth and for you as a young citizen to know this history." She assumes readers are coming to the book without prior knowledge, and she clearly describes the history behind the schooling system and how its abuses came to light while defining relevant terms (assimilation, Indian agent, systemic racism, etc.). Period photographs and accounts from living survivors of the schools make a gripping narrative all the more real, and reader-directed questions appear frequently in sidebars. Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess: "I hope you see that we have a beautiful opportunity for profound change." Ages 9–13. (Sept.) Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 4–7—A sensitive and extensive insight into the experiences of Indigenous people in Canada. Smith traces the historical events, movements, and laws affecting people of the First Nations and connects this history to the impact still resonating generations later. The book largely addresses the laws that forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and sent them to residential schools in an attempt to "civilize" them. Replete with primary sources, including photos and personal accounts from those who lived in the residential schools, Smith tackles difficult and complex conversations with straightforwardness and compassion. These topics include institutionalized racism, forced sterilization, and the destruction of Indigenous cultures. Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action. Smith wrote this book in the second person, which creates a uniquely personal experience wherein readers are immersed in the conversation. In addition, questions for reflection are peppered throughout, making the work very accessible for classroom use. Though Smith does not specifically address U.S. history, many of the laws and actions described in Canada have been and are mirrored in the United States. The thorough back matter also makes this volume great for research. For older readers, this work pairs nicely with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States. VERDICT Purchase this vibrant, must-have title to prompt critical thinking and open discussions.—Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This nonfiction book examines how we can foster reconciliation with Indigenous people at individual, family, community and national levels.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

?"Smith's book is an effort that returns, offering diverse voices that invite the world into the reconciliation experience. Absolutely necessary.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewCanada's relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.Praise for Speaking Our Truth:?"Smith thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada's residential schools…Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review?"Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action."—School Library Journal, starred review?"Offers a perfect framework for readers actively exploring Indigenous history and current issues. Welcoming, honest, and down to earth, Speaking Our Truth is the tool many Canadians have been waiting for."—Quill & Quire, starred review