top of page


For an extensive annotated reading list, you are welcome to visit the books page

from another project that was created by Will Weigler and Krystal Cook


Learning Ojibway

I WAS TWENTY-FOUR when the first Ojibway word rolled off my tongue. It felt round and rolling, not like the spiky sound of English with all its hard-edged consonants. When I spoke that word aloud, I felt as if I'd truly spoken for the first time in my life...


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 137-140.

Freeing the Pike

Standing thigh deep in the water, lifting a pike far longer than my arm, I felt totally alive. As I removed the hook and rested the fish against my other palm, I knew I'd landed a monster. I shook with excitement. But something happened to me then that's taken years to fully understand. Seeing that huge fish gulping at the water, straining for life, its power ebbing,its beauty already beginning to fade, I lowered it, let it rest in my hands and then watched it swim away....


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 45-48.

Making Bannock

When I bake bannock I feel Ojibway. The process evokes images of bush life, an open fire, a lump of dough on a stick and a circle of people gathered in community to share fresh bread. Knowing that I hold an Ojibway skill, a part of our science, instills pride in me. And when the plate is passed around to the usual lip-smacking, finger-licking compliments from non-native friends, I smile to think that our Indian science is being shared....


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 125-128.

My Friend Shane

I’ve seen people living in basement rooms with no windows, mould creeping its way down the damp walls. I’ve seen poor folk of all ilk living lives far removed from anything I would call comfortable. Shane Rivers and his family taught me that some things are more important than discomfort. I’d have given anything as a kid for half the heart that was shared around their fire. I’d have given anything to be heard, seen and validated every day of my life....


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 49-52.

The Kid Who Couldn’t Dance

When I was in my early twenties, friends took me to my first powwow at the Standing Buffalo reserve in Saskatchewan. There wasn't a big powwow tradition in southern Ontario, so I'd never been exposed to it. To me it was a cultural oddity, something only for Indians who'd grown up on a reserve. As a city-raised kid in a white home, it made me nervous. But this powwow was huge. There were hundreds of dancers and dozens of drums. It was colourful and dynamic, and the throngs of people gathered to watch generated an excitement that I felt in my bones...


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 112-115.

Fatty Legs
The moving memoir of an Inuit girl who emerges from a residential school with her spirit intact

The girl shrank under the nun's glare. Catching a firm hold on one of the girl's long braids, the nun snipped it off with a slice and let it fall to the floor. The girl hid her face in her hands as the second braid was cut....


The rest of this reading can be found in

Fatty Legs: A True Story, by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton. Annick Press, 2010, p 29-31


The late Beth Brant was a Mohawk writer from the Bay of Quinte. In this essay she reflects on Great Blue Heron

You have brought me so much. What can I bring you? Assurances that your territories will not be polluted and blasphemed by the corruptness of man? Promises I cannot keep? I will bring you this: As each of our grandchildren come into the age of seeing with their hearts, I will point you out to them. I will say your name with reverence. I will draw in my breath as we watch you fly. They in turn will know what prayer is—the hushed moment of discovery. The quiet flame of regeneration. They will love you and treasure the completeness that is you. They will honour you in their lives. This I promise you....


The rest of this reading can be found on pages 34-37 of the book, Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals by Linda Hogan, Deena Metzger, and Brenda Peterson.

                                                                                      To download Beth Brant's "Prayer" 

The Lonely Death of Chanie Wenjack

When the frozen body of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack was found on a lonely stretch of railway tracks in northern Ontario a little over 50 years ago, it sparked the first inquest into the treatment of aboriginal children in Canadian residential schools...


The story of Chanie Wenjack can be found in

Secret Path by Gord Downie and Jeff Lemire. Simon and Schuster Canada, 2016

Del's Truck

“I found this truck with the keys in it. The law might say that the person who left it that way was simply inviting someone else to take it. Which I did, and now it belongs to me. Instead of leaving it uncared for, I have a better use for the truck. I aim to sell it and make me some money.” Del started to laugh, a deep belly laugh that travelled his whole frame. “Tell me who put you up to this. I love a good joke.” Reg looked stern. “Mr. Del, I don’t believe I was being funny.” Del stopped laughing.


Guuduniia LaBoucan's humorous allegory, "Del’s Truck" about Delgamuukw, the landmark First Nations land rights case, can be found online at:


                                 To download Guuduniia LaBoucan's"Del's Truck"

Indian Horse

When your innocence is stripped from you, when your people are denigrated, when the family you came from is denounced and your tribal ways and rituals are pronounced backward, primitive, savage, you come to see yourself as less than human. That is hell on earth, that sense of unworthiness. That's what they inflicted on us. The beatings hurt. The threats belittled us. The incessant labour wearied us, made us old before our time. The death, disease and disappearances filled us with fear. But perhaps what terrified us most were the nighttime invasions....


The rest of this reading can be found in

Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2012..

Patience of the Seasons

Song by Stephanie Tiede from the play From the Heart: enter into the journey of reconciliation

In my first year of university, I took an Indigenous studies course. My professor was a warrior of a woman; so bold to share the past, so patient with our reactions to it. She always reminded us that, sometimes, when we're learning, it is easy to get overwhelmed or burdened or frozen by the weight of the history. This song is my reminder to cope....


To download the lyrics to Stephanie Tiede's song

Dear Parents

A letter from Rev. F. O’Grady, Principal of the Kamloops Residential School in 1948

It will be your privilege this year to have your children spend Christmas at home with you. The holidays will extend from DECEMBER 18th to JANUARY 3rd. This is a privilege which is being granted if you observe the following regulations of the Indian Department...


To download a copy of the letter

The Survivors Speak:

Excerpts from the Preface of The Survivors Speak: A Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

A Survivor is not just someone who “made it through” the schools, or “got by” or was “making do.” A Survivor is a person who persevered against and overcame adversity. The word came to mean someone who emerged victorious, though not unscathed, whose head was “bloody but unbowed.” It referred to someone who had taken all that could be thrown at them and remained standing at the end. It came to mean someone who could legitimately say “I am still here!” For that achievement,Survivors deserve our highest respect. But, for that achievement, we also owe them the debt of doing the right thing....


To download this page of excerpts

Born Complicit

Excerpt of a scene from the play From the Heart: enter into the journey of reconciliation

The proud seventh generation Canadian at her core admitted something sombre and frightful. That harm done to others had eased her life’s path and the lives of six generations of her ancestors....


To download this excerpt

To Love This Country

There is a song that is Canada. You can hear it in the bush and tree and rock, in the crash of a Pacific surf and the blowing of the breeze across a prairie sky. There are ancient notes in its chorus, voices sprung from Metis roots, Ojibway, Cree, Micmac and then French, German, Scottish and English. It’s a magnificent cacophony. I have learned that to love this country means to love its people. All of them. When we say “all my relations,” it’s meant in a teaching way, to rekindle community. We are part of the great, grand circle of humanity, and we need each other. It wouldn’t be Canada with one voice less....


The rest of this reading can be found in

One Native Life by Richard Wagamese. Douglas & McIntyre/D & M Publishers, 2009, p 190-192.

bottom of page