cover image Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City

Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City

Tanya Talaga. House of Anansi (PGW, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $18.95 trade paper (328p) ISBN 978-1-4870-0226-8

Journalist Talaga’s debut, about the deaths of seven young indigenous people between 2000 and 2011 in Thunder Bay, Ont., is a powerful examination and critique of present and past Canadian policies on indigenous peoples. The book is broken into sections, each one introducing readers to a promising indigenous youth who was forced to move hundreds of kilometers from a northern community to Thunder Bay in order to complete an education. Instead of finding opportunities, these young people found racism, indifference, violence, and finally death. Many questions about each death remain unanswered, but each one was immediately deemed accidental, some noted as such by the local police even before a coroner had a chance to conduct an autopsy. Talaga’s research is meticulous and her journalistic style is crisp and uncompromising. She brings each story to life, skillfully weaving the stories of the youths’ lives, deaths, and families together with sharp analysis. She connects each death to neocolonial policies and institutional racism in all levels of governments, as well as the legacy of Canada’s infamously abusive residential schools. The book is heartbreaking and infuriating, both an important testament to the need for change and a call to action. (Nov.)