Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii / I Am Not a Number

Gaawin Gindaaswin Ndaawsii / I Am Not a Number


By Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer and Illustrated by Gillian Newland
Translated by Muriel Sawyer and Geraldine McLeod with contributions by Tory Fisher


A true and personal story of Canada's residential school past.

The dual language edition in Nishnaabemwin (Ojibwe) Nbisiing dialect and English of the multiple award-winning picture book, I Am Not a Number. When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to her. When she goes home for summer holidays, Irene's parents decide never to send her and her brothers away again. But where will they hide? And what will happen when her parents disobey the law?

Based on the life of co-author Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, Gaawin Niin Ndoo-Gindaaswisii / I Am Not a Number is a hugely necessary book that brings a terrible part of Canada’s history to light in a way that children can learn from and relate to.

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About the Author

Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis is of Anishinaabe/Ojibway ancestry and a proud member of Nipissing First Nation. She is an educator, researcher, artist, and speaker who works full-time supporting the advancement of Indigenous education. Jenny’s interest in her family’s past and her commitment to teaching about Indigenous issues through literature drew her to co-write I am Not a Number, her first children’s book. She lives in Toronto.

About the Author

Kathy Kacer is well known for her children’s books about the Holocaust, including The Secret of Gabi’s Dresser and The Magician of Auschwitz. Her books have won many awards, including the Silver Birch, the Red Maple, the Hackmatack, and the Jewish Book Award. A former psychologist, Kathy now travels the globe speaking to children and adults about her books. Kathy lives in Toronto with her family.

About the Illustrator

Gillian Newland is an artist who works mostly in watercolor, ink and pencils. She finds most of her inspiration to draw outside of her studio, and can sometimes be found sketching her fellow customers at a coffee shop. She is the illustrator of The Magician of Auschwitz and many other books. Gillian lives in Toronto.

Product Information

  • Release: September 10, 2019

  • $14.95 Paperback

  • 44 Pages

  • 11 x 8.5

  • Picture Book - Children's Nonfiction

  • Ages 7-11 / Grades 3-6

  • Lexile: 640L Guided Reading: V

  • Language: Nishnaabemwin (Ojibwe) Nbisiing dialect and English

  • ISBN: 9781772600995


  • Character Education
    > Empathy
    > Prejudice & Tolerance

  • History & Social Studies
    > Canadian History
    > First Nations & Indigenous Peoples
    > Government & Citizenship

  • Reflecting Diversity


Awards for I Am Not a Number

  • 2018 Red Cedar Award for Information Book Winner - British Columbia's Young Readers' Choice Award

  • 2018 Hackmatack Award Winner - Atlantic Children's Choice Book Award

  • 2017 Diamond Willow Award Winner - Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Award (SYRCA)

  • 2016 Selection American Indians in Children's Literature Best Books of the Year

  • 2018 Silver Birch Express Award Finalist - Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading

  • 2018 Rocky Mountain Book Award Finalist - Alberta's Children's Choice Book Award

  • 2017 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award Finalist - TD Canadian Children's Book Awards

  • 2017 Information Book Award Finalist - Children's Literature Roundtables of Canada

  • 2017 Selection Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year

  • 2016 Selection The Ontario Library Association's Best Bets - Junior Nonfiction

  • Selected by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) 2017 Notable Children's Books - Middle Readers

  • Selected by the Co-operative Children's Book Center CCBC Choices 2017

Praise for I Am Not a Number

"Residential and boarding school stories are hard to read, but they're vitally important... books like I Am Not a Number should be taught in schools in Canada, and the U.S., too." - Debbie Reese, American Indians in Children's Literature

"A moving glimpse into a not-very-long-past injustice." - Kirkus Reviews

"I Am Not a Number is perfect to get the conversation about residential schools started with your children. It opens the door for them to ask questions about the subject and the story is relatable in a way they can follow." - Residential School Magazine

"This well done, empathetic historical book is highly recommended for all collections." - Booklist starred review

"To any one looking for a book to teach children about the history of residential schools I Am Not A Number is without hesitation a very powerful and historical teaching tool." - Anishinabek News

"This is a special picture book that brings the truthfulness of oral history to an elementary audience. Highly recommended for elementary and public libraries." - Goodminds

"Gillian Newland's sombre illustrations, done with a muted palette of greys, greens and browns, beautifully capture the written words.... This book is a moving look into an injustice that continues to have ramifications for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples." - Canadian Children's Book News

"Few stories exist about the residential school system that are aimed at a younger age group, and this one is an absolute must for classrooms and libraries." - Resource Links

"Gillian Newland’s illustrations are a highly realistic, very evocative accompaniment to [the] text.  They set the tone and establish the mood of the story.... [The book] raises such issues as child rights, parental rights, Canadian constitutional rights, and Indigenous rights. I Am Not a Number would be an excellent starting point for anyone pursuing these issues." - Deakin Review of Children's Literature

"Endless cross-curricular connections can be made using this story. But the most powerful aspect of this book is that it will open a dialogue, one that Justice Murray Sinclair spoke of as head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a dialogue that needs to take place for reconciliation to happen." - ETFO Voice (Magazine of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario)

“This is a story that should be known by all North Americans. What happened to Native Americans in both Canada and the United States is a sorrowful and shameful chapter of North American history. While the subject matter is difficult, it will help children develop empathy and understanding of the situation of others. Kids need alternate perspectives. There is no moralizing in the story; readers will have to think about what happened and draw their own conclusions.” - Rhapsody in Books Weblog

“Powerful. Poignant. Part of our history.” - Sukasareads