What She Reads
In celebration of Women's History Month the Sawyer Free Library asked a variety of local women to share their picks for books they love or have been inspired by that are written by fellow women. Click on a name to see their recommendations.
Director - Sawyer Free Library
Between 2007 and 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada heard from more than 6,500 witnesses about the Indian residential school system which removed 150,000 children from their own culture from the late 1890s up until 1996. In 2015, the Commission released an extensive 6 volume report of its findings which documented the history and lasting impacts of the system on Indigenous students and their families, as well as “94 Calls to Action” to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation.
In 2017, West Vancouver Memorial Library, where I served as the Library Director, embarked on a multi-year, multi-faceted program, Honouring Reconciliation: Hearing the Truth, designed to expand the community’s understanding of local Indigenous history, the impacts of colonialism and its ongoing effects on Indigenous Peoples. The Board and staff initiated the building of a new relationship with Indigenous Peoples based on trust and mutual respect, and focused on establishing a practice of reconciliation.
In the second year, the Library held a Reading Challenge, inviting the community to expand their awareness of the strength and resilience Indigenous peoples have shown in the face of intolerance, a lack of understanding and racism. The booklist for the Reading Challenge featured seventeen titles selected by Chief Robert Joseph of Reconciliation Canada which aimed to expose people to crucial texts for understanding and empathizing with Indigenous history and experience.
Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga, forever changed my perceptions of Indigenous peoples, Canadians, racism, the police and justice systems, and human rights. The book is a sweeping narrative of seven Indigenous high school students who died in Thunder Bay, Ontario over the span of eleven years between 2000 and 2011. The deeply personal stories crack open the systemic racism, poverty and powerlessness that contribute to the generational issues faced by Indigenous peoples.
While the stories are tragic and harrowing, they are told with a depth of compassion for all involved. They inspired me to delve more deeply into indigenous ways of knowing and the meaning of what it is to be “educated.” Most of all, the book galvanized my commitment to supporting Indigenous cultural revitalization.
Seven Fallen Feathers
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