Children’s books for Truth and Reconciliation

Catherine Coles
Coles’ Notes

Our Librarian Jennifer has put together a selection of titles for Sept. 30’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, all of which highlight rising voices from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit authors in a multitude of stories about strength in the face of unimaginable adversity. The following are her suggestions for children’s picture books that delicately shine a light on a dark part of our past.

I’m Finding My Talk by Rebecca Thomas

Award-winning spoken word artist and Mi’kmaw activist Rebecca Thomas reflects on working through the destructive effects of colonialism as the child of a parent who attended Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. In this picture book, a second-generation survivor shares how she rediscovers her community by sewing regalia, dancing at powwow, learning traditional language and more.

The Train by Jodie Callaghan

Mi’gmaq storyteller Jodie Callaghan from the Listuguj First Nation relates a conversation between a young girl and her grandfather. Ashley comes across her grandfather at an abandoned train station and asks why he is sad. Based on the ‘train of tears’ that took children to Shubenacadie Indian Residential School, her grandfather shares memories as he waits at the track “for what we lost that day to come back to us.”

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence

Award-winning writer Melanie Florence of Cree and Scottish heritage writes a picture book based on her grandfather’s experiences in a Canadian residential school illustrating the beautiful, healing relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. It portrays a survivor’s strengths.

When We Were Alone by David Robertson

Member of Norway House Cree Nation based in Winnipeg, award-winning writer David Robertson illuminates a dialogue between a young girl and her Nokum (grandmother.) She comes to understand that her Nokum’s choices to wear colours, keep her hair long, speak Cree, and connect with family reflect positive protest against the injustices she experienced in a Canadian residential school where Indigenous cultural expressions were not permitted.

Swift Fox All Along by Rebecca Thomas

Poet and Mi’kmaw activist Rebecca Thomas from Lennox Island First Nation draws on the cultural dislocation she experienced as the daughter of a Canadian residential school survivor. The Canadian residential school program fractured survivors from the generation before them (their parents) and after them (their kids.) This story shares a young girl’s first visit to the reserve to meet her family. It reflects the girl’s introduction to a culture she hasn’t had an opportunity to participate in regularly.

All of these titles can be reserved online or from your branch of the County of Lennox & Addington Libraries. For the full list of Jennifer’s suggested Truth & Reconciliation reads for all age groups, please visit

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