To celebrate today's release of 150 Fascinating Facts About Canadian Women, we thought we'd put your knowledge of some of Canada's most groundbreaking women to the test. Take the quiz below to see how well you know your Canadian women's history and share your results with your friends!
*The official name has JUST been changed (from Aboriginal Day) to Indigenous Peoples - the preferred term used by those communities, and a more accurate reflection of Indigenous Peoples in Canada as distinct, separate nations. Many have already been using this name for the day (and month).
In honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day 2017, we would like to share a list of children's books that share the history and some of the stories of children who experienced Canada's residential school system
"Approximately 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were, for over a century, removed from their homes and sent to live in residential schools across Canada. The schools were created and funded by the federal government in the belief that Indigenous peoples were uncivilized and needed to be 'saved' from themselves. In reality, that 'education' cost Indigenous children the loss of their families and communities, their indigenous languages, and their traditions." - From the afterword to I Am Not A Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer
Indigenous Writing & Illustration Contest - Now open to submissions!
Second Story Press is actively looking for Indigenous writers who want to see their stories for children published, and for Indigenous illustrators who would like to illustrate children's books. Find out more about our second Indigenous Writing and Illustration Contest, which is now open for entries. The winners of our 2015 writing contest can be found below. Stolen Words is included in the list of residential school books. The Mask That Sang (co-winner of the contest) and The Water Walker (a wonderful book we received via the contest) are in our list of other Indigenous-themed children's books published by Second Story Press.
Books FOR CHILDREN About the Residential School System
- I Am Not a Number, by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland (Second Story Press) 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?
- When We Were Alone, by David Alexander Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett (Portage & Main Press) When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things about her grandmother that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long braided hair and wear beautifully coloured clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where everything was taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, a story of empowerment and strength.
- Shi-shi-etko and Shin-chi's Canoe, by Nicola I. Campbell, pictures by Kim Lafave (Groundwood Books) In just four days young Shi-shi-etko will have to leave her family and all that she knows to attend residential school. She spends her last days at home treasuring the beauty of her world — the dancing sunlight, the tall grass, each shiny rock, the tadpoles in the creek, her grandfather's paddle song. Her mother, father and grandmother, each in turn, share valuable teachings that they want her to remember. And so Shi-shi-etko carefully gathers her memories for safekeeping. Shin-chi's Canoe is the moving sequel. Shi-shi-etko is about to return for her second year at residential school, but this time her six-year-old brother, Shin-chi, is going, too.
- Stolen Words, by Melanie Florence, illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard (Second Story Press) The story of the beautiful relationship between a little girl and her grandfather. When she asks her grandfather how to say something in his language – Cree – he admits that his language was stolen from him when he was a boy. The little girl then sets out to help her grandfather find his language again. This sensitive and warmly illustrated picture book explores the intergenerational impact of the residential school system that separated young Indigenous children from their families. The story recognizes the pain of those whose culture and language were taken from them, how that pain is passed down, and how healing can also be shared.
- Fatty Legs, by Christy Fenton-Jordan and Margaret Pokiak-Fento, illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes (Annick Press) Eight-year-old Margaret Pokiak has set her sights on learning to read, even though it means leaving her village in the high Arctic. Faced with unceasing pressure, her father finally agrees to let her make the five-day journey to attend school, but he warns Margaret of the terrors of residential schools. At school Margaret soon encounters the Raven, a black-cloaked nun with a hooked nose and bony fingers that resemble claws. She immediately dislikes the strong-willed young Margaret. Intending to humiliate her, the heartless Raven gives gray stockings to all the girls — all except Margaret, who gets red ones. In an instant Margaret is the laughingstock of the entire school. In the face of such cruelty, Margaret refuses to be intimidated and bravely gets rid of the stockings. Although a sympathetic nun stands up for Margaret, in the end it is this brave young girl who gives the Raven a lesson in the power of human dignity.
- A Stranger at Home: A True Story, and Not My Girl, by Christy Fenton-Jordan and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton, illustrations (Not My Girl) by Gabrielle Grimard (Annick Press) Traveling to be reunited with her family in the arctic, 10-year-old Margaret Pokiak can hardly contain her excitement. It’s been two years since her parents delivered her to the school run by the dark-cloaked nuns and brothers. Coming ashore, Margaret spots her family, but her mother barely recognizes her, screaming, “Not my girl.” Margaret realizes she is now marked as an outsider. Margaret’s years at school have changed her. Now ten years old, she has forgotten her language and the skills to hunt and fish. She can’t even stomach her mother’s food. Her only comfort is in the books she learned to read at school. Gradually, Margaret relearns the words and ways of her people. With time, she earns her father’s trust enough to be given a dogsled of her own. As her family watches with pride, Margaret knows she has found her place once more. Not My Girl tells the same story as the memoir A Stranger at Home, adapted as a picture book to make it accessible to younger children.
- No Time to Say Goodbye, by Sylvia Olsen (Sono Nis Press) A fictional account of five children sent to aboriginal boarding school, based on the recollections of a number of Tsartlip First Nations people. These unforgettable children are taken by government agents from Tsartlip Day School to live at Kuper Island Residential School. The five are isolated on the small island and life becomes regimented by the strict school routine. They experience the pain of homesickness and confusion while trying to adjust to a world completely different from their own. Their lives are no longer organized by fishing, hunting and family, but by bells, line-ups and chores. In spite of the harsh realities of the residential school, the children find adventure in escape, challenge in competition, and camaraderie with their fellow students.
- My Name Is Seepeetza, by Shirley Sterling (Groundwood Books) At six years old, Seepeetza is taken from her happy family life on Joyaska Ranch to live as a boarder at the Kamloops Indian Residential School. Life at the school is not easy, but Seepeetza still manages to find some bright spots. Always, thoughts of home make her school life bearable. An honest, inside look at life in an Indian residential school in the 1950s, and how one indomitable young spirit survived it.
- “Mush-hole:” Memories of a residential school, by Maddie Harper (Sister Vision Press) Explains Maddie Harper’s years attending the Mohawk Institute Residential School in Brantford, Ontario. When she was seven years old Maddie was forced to attend the school until the age of fifteen. She writes with clarity and power as she describes her experiences. She includes a painful episode by physically and psychologically as she received a brutal disciplinary measure by a teacher at the school. Students from grades 6 and up will be moved by this brief 20-page illustrated memoir by activist Maddie Harper.
- As Long as the Rivers Flow, (Groundwood Books) and Goodbye Buffalo Bay (Theytus Book), by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden As Long as the Rivers Flow is the story of Larry Loyie's last summer before entering residential school. It is a time of learning and adventure. He cares for an abandoned baby owl and watches his grandmother make winter moccasins. He helps the family prepare for a hunting and gathering trip. In the sequel, Goodbye Buffalo Bay, Lawrence just has to make it through his final year of residential school and then he will never have to set foot in this horrible place again. But despite his best efforts to stay out of trouble, he finds himself in a few frightening predicaments. An escape attempt fails and a stolen gun misfires. Fortunately, his friendships and the tutelage of Sister Theresa help make his last school days bearable. When he returns home, Lawrence is not yet a man but no longer a boy. He struggles to find acceptance in a community that seems to have forgotten him. He tries a few different jobs and makes a name for himself as a hard worker. With increased confidence and the money he has saved up, he leaves Slave Lake to fulfill his dream of living in the mountains.
- They Called It Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School, by K. Tsianina Lomawaima (University of Nebraska Press) Established in 1884 and operative for nearly a century, the Chilocco Indian School in Oklahoma was one of a series of off-reservation boarding schools intended to assimilate American Indian children into mainstream American life. Critics have characterized the schools as destroyers of Indian communities and cultures, but the reality that K. Tsianina Lomawaima discloses was much more complex. Lomawaima allows the Chilocco students to speak for themselves. In recollections juxtaposed against the official records of racist ideology and repressive practice, students from the 1920s and 1930s recall their loneliness and demoralization but also remember with pride the love and mutual support binding them together — the forging of new pan-Indian identities and reinforcement of old tribal ones.
Indigenous-Themed Books FROM Second Story Press
In case you couldn't tell, we're passionate about children's books here at Second Story — especially ones that have the power to change lives.
So for International Children's Book Day, we asked the five authors of our latest books for kids and teens: "What book inspired you to write for young readers?” From a fan-favourite series, to a familiar red-headed heroine, and not so much a book but a person who encouraged a life-long love of reading, this list is sure to inspire you to revisit the children's books that made you fall in love with the written word.
Looks like April 2nd is shaping up to be quite a day! I have a new book out, Breaking Faith, which launches on April 2nd and it also happens to be International Children’s Book Day. So, I’ve been posed the question, what kids' book inspired me to write for young people? That’s an easy one—or should I say seven. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling most definitely motivated me to write for young adult readers. The books educate, inspire, and instil important life lessons about loyalty, friendship, responsibility, and tolerance, while being thoroughly entertaining—which explains their unparalleled success. I loved reading and talking about them with my daughters and then reading them to my class. Though my books are very different, I like to think that they carry a message, a subtle one, but a strong one just the same. The difference is that my protagonists are always female!
E. Graziani is a teacher/librarian, author, and speaker. She is the author of War in my Town — one of the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids & Teens and finalist in the Hamilton Arts Council 2016 Literary Awards for Best Non-Fiction—as well as two young adult novels Alice of the Rocks and Alice–Angel of Time, and a novella Jess Under Pressure. She incorporates strong female characters into her writing to inspire her readers and regularly speaks to young people about her books and the publishing process. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and four daughters.
"The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland." - L.M. Montgomery
Books played a large part in my life growing up in Vancouver. My parents were voracious readers and they passed their love of literature on to their children. I can’t recall a bedtime without a story or a car trip without a poem. I spent my summer holidays adventuring through the UK with Enid Blyton’s Philip, Jack, Dinah and Lucy-Ann (whom I thought of as Lucky Ann) and Kiki the parrot and my winters shivering in the attic with Sarah Crewe.
Every room in our house had a book shelf, including the bathrooms, so when asked, “What children’s book inspired you to write for young people?” many come to mind: Never Cry Wolf; People of the Deer; The Call of the Wild; White Fang; A Little Princess; Charlotte’s Web; Winnie the Pooh; The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; Black Beauty; and countless others.
However, one story spoke directly to my childhood dream of becoming a writer and that was Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables. In Anne I found a kindred spirit, a bosom buddy; a young girl who spent as much time making up stories in her head as I did. When I entered Anne’s world, I felt less uneasy about my own vivid imagination. When Anne declared, “It’s delightful when your imaginations come true, isn’t it?” I agreed.
My life has been enriched in different ways by the many books I’ve read but it’s L.M. Montgomery’s Anne that inspired me to become a writer.
Julie Burtinshaw is an award-winning author of novels for young adults, including The Darkness Between the Stars, The Perfect Cut, The Freedom of Jenny, Adrift, and Dead Reckoning. Julie writes with young people in mind because she insists on asking “why?” and so do they. She believes her readers face challenges with hope, and hardship with optimism. They are fighting to find their way in life—just like the characters in her books. Julie teaches writers’ workshops in high schools across Canada and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I love my job and I’m proud to be a children’s author and illustrator but I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. In fact, as a child, not only did I not like to read, I couldn’t read—at least not until grade four.
I have a learning disability and was very lucky to have an awesome teacher in grade four who took the time to teach me to read. Even after learning to read in grade four, reading was very hard for me.
I didn’t like books until grade nine when a fantastic librarian gave me a book she thought I would like. Once I discovered books where I connected to the characters I learned to LOVE to read. That’s when I decided to write books for children. I wanted to get other children—like me—to love books too, but when I told people I wanted to write books they said, “You’re never going to write a book. You can barely read one.”
“You will never be” was a comment I was used to hearing, one people always told me and up until grade four I believed them. Once I learned to read things changed. I stopped listening to those people. I stopped letting them determine what I could and could not achieve in my life. So now if someone tells me I will never… I not only don’t listen, I set out to prove them wrong—and you should too.
The book that inspired me to write for young readers is Can You Sue Your Parents for Malpractice? by Paula Danziger. My mother gave it to me as a teen and it was the first time I read about kids like me. The characters are real people—they fight, they laugh, they cry, they worry about money, and they love each other in the same way the families I knew did—imperfectly.
As a writer in my twenties, I was lucky enough to meet Ms. Danziger. She was doing an author visit in a tiny bookstore in a small town and I was the only person who showed up. At that time in her career, she was very well-known, but she took the whole thing in stride. She was friendly to me and the staff, a larger than life character in purple glitter Doc Marten boots, and seemed pleased to have me to talk to. She asked about my writing and dreams. I was too poor at the time to buy a book, but had brought my worn copy of Can You Sue… along and she wrote in it: “To Joëlle—I hope to see your name on a book jacket someday! Paula Danziger.” When my first book came out, I did a signing that no one came to and while I sat there very alone, I reminded myself how gracious the great Paula Danziger was and I smiled and had a good time anyway.
Joëlle Anthony loves the rain, which is good because she was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and now lives on Gabriola Island in British Columbia, Canada. She's worked as an actress, a Minor League Baseball souvenir hawker, the Easter Bunny, and various other not-so-odd jobs. Now she mostly writes novels, but she still dabbles in sketch comedy, nonfiction articles, and teaching writing to both kids and adults. She recently wrote and starred in her first full-length play, along with her husband. A Month of Mondays is her first middle-grade novel. Her YA novels include Restoring Harmony, The Right & the Real, and Speed of Life (writing as J. M. Kelly).
The book that inspired me to start writing YA was Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now. I was completely spellbound by not only the brilliant storytelling but also the quality of the writing. That was the first time I remember thinking, “I want to do this” and actually going to jot ideas down in a notebook. I try to go back and read it once a year.
The spring holiday is the perfect time to read. We can let our imaginations run with ideas for how we might make change in our world. If you know a budding young activist - or perhaps you are one yourself?! - these true stories about kids from around the world are just the right inspiration.
- 44 Hours or Strike! by Anne Dublin, Second Story Press, When their union goes on strike, sisters Sophie and Rose are in for the fight of their lives. The Toronto Dressmakers’ Strike of 1931 brings young sisters Sophie and Rose together in their fight for better working conditions, decent wages, and for their union. It’s a tough battle as distrust and resentment of immigrants is growing, with many people blaming their poverty and difficulties on these workers. Sophie and Rose are faced with unexpected — and sometimes violent — barriers, and they quickly find that a strike is more than just a march.
- A is for Activist, by Innosanto Nagara, Triangle Square, A is for Activist is an ABC board book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.
- Every day is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney and Plan Canada, Second Story Press Malala Yousafzai - as of October 2014, the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize - is an inspiration. This is a letter to Malala, illustrated with beautiful photographs from Plan International. Girls from around the world express their sympathy, sisterhood, and admiration for her. Many of them know first-hand the barriers that stand in the way of girls going to school – barriers like poverty, discrimination, and violence. In Malala these girls recognize a leader, a champion, and a friend.
- Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson, Schwartz and Wade Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today, Emmanuel continues to work on behalf of the disabled.
- Shannen and the Dream for a School, by Janet Wilson Second Story Press This is the true story of Shannen Koostachin and the people of Attawapiskat, a Cree community in Northern Ontario, who have been fighting for a new school since the late 1970s when a fuel leak contaminated their original school building. Shannen will never see her dream fulfilled. Tragically, she was killed in a car crash in 2010. Her family, friends, and supporters are continuing to fight and to honor her memory as they work for equality for children in communities everywhere.
- The Streets Are Free, by Kurusa, Annick Press, For the children of the barrio of San José de la Urbina in Caracas,Venezuela, their only playground is the busy streets. Where once there were fields and streams, the landscape is now defined by office towers, sewers and highways. With the help of the local librarian, the children ask the mayor for a vacant lot to build a playground, but all they get are empty campaign promises. Even when a reporter’s news story brings the mayor out to launch the project, nothing further happens. Finally, it is up to the kids themselves to make their dream come true. Undeterred by the obstacles in their path, they rally family, friends and neighbors, who unite to create a space that the children can call their own.
- Our Rights: How Kids are Changing Our World, Janet Wilson, Second Story Press A girl who spoke out against her government for the rights of aboriginal children, a boy who walked across his country to raise awareness of homelessness, and a former child soldier who wants to make music not war. Here are true stories of kids just like you who are standing up for their rights. Read about how they have made a difference. Dylan Mahalingam from the USA started an online charity to raise money to fight child poverty. The bravery of Nujood Ali Mohammed from Yemen inspired other girls who were being forced to marry too young. Anita Khushwaha from India became a beekeeper to pay for school, even though it was considered a job only men could do. All of them are making a difference for children’s rights.
LINDA SILVER DRANOFF
"Anyone who thinks feminism is dead…think again"
International Women’s Day March 8, 2017 will be regarded as unlike any before it. The misogynistic threats to women’s equality rights are real and troubling, yet the power of feminism has risen to withstand them—which gives hope. Let’s face it. Misogyny has lurked underground for as long as time itself, showing up in the assumptions and underpinnings of society, often disguised as paternalism or sex-role stereotyping. Now it has become a more blatant infection that has seeped into the mainstream of the body politic. And it’s everywhere—even here. But we can withstand it, as the worldwide women’s marches have demonstrated.
In the United States, the misogyny seems widespread (just read the daily news), emboldened by the electoral win of a president in spite of his denigrating statements about and degrading actions toward women. The support for him—even among women—demonstrates a distressing acceptance of misogyny in its current shameless form. There, the women-hating attitude is also reflected in the threat to abortion rights, the dearth of organized maternity leave, inadequate government support for childcare, equal pay, and equal rights of all kinds.
In Canada, we may feel more enlightened because we now have a government with avowed feminist attitudes. But don’t forget that a female contender for the leadership of the Alberta Conservative party dropped out due to an onslaught of vicious harassment and intimidation. Face up to the fact that Alberta’s NDP premier Rachel Notley has been beset by sexist-based death threats and chants of “Lock her up.” Other female politicians in Canada have been revealing the nasty vitriol they contend with. And one or two of the federal Conservative leadership candidates appear to be modelling the trends set by the leader of the U.S. Yet, here in Canada, we have substantial advances to maintain, even though we still have a distance to go concerning many issues—childcare, pay equity, anti-violence initiatives, and electoral reform among them.
Internationally, misogyny is also a challenge. A 2016 Inter-Parliamentary Union survey of 55 female parliamentarians from 39 countries found that 44.4 per cent had received threats of death, rape, beatings, or abduction, 21.8 per cent suffered sexual violence, and 65.5 per cent said they had been subjected to humiliating sexist remarks from male colleagues. Russia just changed its law to permit domestic violence.
With all these developments, it would be easy to feel hopeless. But consider this: The day after the presidential inauguration, the Women’s March in the U. S. attracted more feminist protesters (female and male) than the inauguration’s supporters could muster the day before. So many women took to the streets to send the message, You can’t do this to me—I won’t permit it. Around the world, including here in Canada, women marched to give voice and support to feminist ideals of equality and fairness for all, and, in the way of women, to speak for diverse minorities as well.
The message? Anyone who thinks feminism is dead…think again. The fact that women were willing to rise up spontaneously shows that the ideas of feminism have become embedded in our culture over the past 50 years, whether or not an individual woman is willing to define herself as a feminist. All those women and men who marched peacefully against misogyny and inequality and discrimination spoke with their feet, their voices, their placards, and their strength of purpose.
"Pay attention to the threats to equality rights."
But those demonstrations must be transformed into organized vigilance. Those voices of protest must be harnessed and trained for alertness and action. Democracy allows us to speak to power. Defend the structures of our democratic society meant to help you. These democratic institutions, including the rule of law and a free press, are our friends; they exist to protect us.
Rule of law ensures a stable society, whereas rule by whim and tweet makes everything unpredictable. Make governments accountable for illegal and unconstitutional actions. Challenge unfair laws and treatment in the courts. Lobby politicians for better legislation. Question their decisions. Support a free press that provides truth. Write letters to the editor. Pay attention to the threats to equality rights.
The Canadian women’s movement has been doing those things since the 1970s. That is how we achieved family law reform, Charter equality rights, abortion rights, pay equity laws, maternity and paternity leave, laws against sexual harassment, and more.
So on March 8, 2017 when we celebrate International Women’s Day, we can proudly observe that the reports of the death of feminism have been greatly exaggerated, and the dismissal of feminism as unnecessary is mistaken. The struggle for equality and fairness continues. Give voice to the rights of women as fully equal members of society in a pro-active way. Take responsibility for the future; be the leaders. On March 8th, let us resolve anew to carry on, regardless.
Welcome to Wavemaker! A new blog coming to you from Second Story Press where we will showcase the past, present and future of feminism. As a leading publisher of feminist literature we know the importance of featuring diverse stories and voices. Wavemaker will be a hub of original content presenting everything from listicles (check out our Spring Break Books for the Young Activist) to think pieces on current events (read Linda Silver Dranoff’s op-ed piece for International Women’s Day), as well as profiles of the wavemakers who inspire us. Wavemaker is publisher agnostic with the intention of showcasing important books and stories across all platforms and publishers. If you’re interested in staying up to date with Wavemaker and Second Story Press please subscribe to our monthly newsletter or follow us on our social channels. Stay tuned for more posts!
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