Celebrating National Aboriginal Day

Beyond the first day of summer and the last day of public school, June brings us Indigenous History Month and National Aboriginal Day on June 21. According to the Government of Canada, "this is a day for all Canadians to recognize and celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures, and outstanding contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples." 

CBC Books is celebrating by having Indigenous authors recommend a favourite book by another Indigenous writer, and by capturing a list of 108 reader-recommended, must-read books by Indigenous authors. June 2017 is also the second annual Indigenous Book Club Month, a movement you can follow at #IndigenousReads and participate in by discovering, reading, and promoting Indigenous writers.

As the CBC Books' reading list and the Indigenous Book Club both attest, Indigenous writing in Canada is thriving—offering a plenitude of titles to savour this month and beyond. We wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate the bright lights in Canada's Indigenous publishing community and highlight a few Indigenous-owned and -operated houses offering books authored, illustrated, and published by Indigenous Peoples.

Kegedonce Press

Kegedonce Press is celebrating its 24th year "crafting beautiful books that involve Indigenous Peoples at all levels of production" from its base at Neyaashiinigmiing on the traditional territory of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation in Ontario. Owner, managing editor, and author Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm is a passionate activist and advocate for Indigenous creators and social change. In the wake of the Write magazine "Appropriation Prize" debacle earlier this year, she offered the following guidance for Indigenous creators working today:

It is time now for us to refocus our energies on what matters to us: first and foremost, working within our communities to strengthen, empower and build each other up. We need to envision, together, the world we want to create and work without this distraction. Many Indigenous writers are writing with a reinvigorated drive, heartened by the way so many of us came together, and talking about new collaborations and new projects. It is exciting. We’re dreaming about a future and how to get there.

Highlighted title: Neechie Hustle by Neal McLeod, coming out July 15, 2017. "Neechie Hustle takes place largely on the fictitious Broken Elbow First Nation in Saskatchewan. The novel provides a satirical look at the Indian Act and also looks at the emergence of neechie swagger of the late 1960s and 1970s. The rise of Pinokineechie, a wooden Indian, sees the expansion of Chief's Fried Chicken, with Crees dancing at Studio 54. The Senator, who narrates the story, helps bring balance back to the bannock force and to the Broken Elbow reserve."

A selection of Kegedonce's titles can be found on BNC CataList.
Canadian trade sales: Canadian Manda Group
Canadian distribution: LitDistCo

Follow @KegedoncePress on Twitter.

Pemmican Publications

Pemmican Publications is a non-profit publisher dedicated to fiction and non-fiction Metis works authored by Metis authors and illustrators. Founded in 1980 by the Manitoba Metis Federation, the house publishes a wide variety of titles and "is the only dedicated Metis publishing house in Canada."

Highlighted title: My Children Are My Reward: The Life of Elsie Spence by Alix Harpelle, out now. A non-fiction book for juvenile readers, Harpelle describes "through the story of Elsie Spence ... the traditional ways of the Metis in Manitoba in the mid-20th Century." 

Direct distribution: http://www.pemmicanpublications.ca/Ordering-Information.page

Follow Pemmican on Twitter via the Manitoba Metis Foundation.

Theytus Books

Theytus Books is the oldest Indigenous publishing house in Canada and is located in Syilx territory on the Penticton Indian Reserve in British Columbia. "For founder Randy Fred, the name 'Theytus' symbolizes the goal of documenting Indigenous cultures and world views through books," which is echoed in the press' commitments to publish Indigenous voices and to ensure that "their voice and vision are expressed with the highest level of cultural authenticity and integrity."

Highlighted title: Dying to Please You: Indigenous Suicide in Contemporary Canada by Ronald D. Chrisjohn and Shaunessy M. McKay, coming out in July 2017. A summary by Chrisjohn: "Resistance is the cure for Indigenous suicides. There is nothing 'wrong' with Indigenous individuals that was not caused by the relentless violence of ongoing colonization, and therefore the treatment of the fatal condition of dispossession and oppression is to right that basic wrong. That, and an anti-capitalist campaign that will set the humanistic balance of pre-capitalist, or pre-Columbian, economics back in place."

Canadian trade sales: Martin and Associates Sales Agency (Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada), Ed Mueller & Associates (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC)

Canadian trade distribution: Sandhill Book Marketing (BC and Alberta), University of Toronto Press Distribution (all other provinces and territories)

Follow @Theytusbooks on Twitter.

For more great Indigenous-authored book recommendations, check out this CataList catalogue we put together.