Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation

Monique Gray Smith. Orca, $29.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-4598-1583-4
Smith (My Heart Fills with Happiness) thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada’s residential schools, the longest-running of which only closed in 1996. The forced relocation of indigenous children into these schools over a period of more than 160 years—separating them from their families and culture, and frequently subjecting them to harsh punishments, as well as physical and sexual abuse—is a subject that needs to be faced head-on, Smith explains: “It is critical for us as a country to tell his truth and for you as a young citizen to know this history.” She assumes readers are coming to the book without prior knowledge, and she clearly describes the history behind the schooling system and how its abuses came to light while defining relevant terms (assimilation, Indian agent, systemic racism, etc.). Period photographs and accounts from living survivors of the schools make a gripping narrative all the more real, and reader-directed questions appear frequently in sidebars. Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess: “I hope you see that we have a beautiful opportunity for profound change.” Ages 9–13. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Children's
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