Indigenous History Month Reads

To commemorate Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day, TNQ has collected a variety of works from across our publications which centre Indigenous stories and voices. These reads will be available, regardless of subscription status, until August.

In Conversation

“Keeping Good Company: A Profile of Richard Wagamese” by Bruce Johnstone

Richard Wagamese is a living, breathing example of how human beings take care of one another. “Human beings.” He uses the phrase often and it’s powerful. It’s a phrase we don’t often use in our community. Hearing this man say it, the phrase assumes a whole new meaning.

Poetry

“Pawatamihk (Dream)” by Catherine Phillips

But by then my flesh
was softened like cooked meat, peeling off the bone.
The whiteness of my skeleton, far too bright.
A great hell hidden in pieces.

“My Native Mother Mourns the Queen” by Melinda Burns

the Great White English mother 
who presided over the land
that once belonged to your people

Two Poems by waaseyaa’sin Christine Sy

these months my ceremony
is an intentional gaze
into a smooth,
hollowed out,
porcelain moon—

Three Poems by Janet Rogers

Leaving my people to
Fight, flee or die
The strength of our identity
Quite independent of yours
Was formed before you were born
And doesn’t include hops and hockey

Fiction

“Tracks” by Alicia Elliott

With traffic it took me two and a half hours to drive here, ten minutes to find parking. St. George. One of the busiest subway stations in Toronto. Isolating even at capacity. It’s a depressing shade of green—one I imagine I’d find peeling from the walls of a crack house bathroom on the Trail.

Soundings

“The Dreamless Void” by Helen Knott

That’s why I went there. To erase myself. To crash into the other non-existents and melt into their ever-changing formation. People disappeared every day. Native women like me disappeared every day. Becoming an invisible Indigenous woman was a goal of manifest destiny that I was no longer willing to fight against.

“In A Canoe, Chasing My Métis Grandmother Like a Dummy” by Carleigh Baker

“I can’t put rocks where rocks don’t already exist. I can point out what a great lesson that rock had for you.”
“To pay attention?”
“And to ask for help when you need it,” Grandma C said. “But not from me. There are people here who want to help you. Their lives depend on you. Your lives depend on each other.”

Essay

“Half-breed” by Francine Cunningham

You’re one of the good ones. This phrase, this compliment that I am supposed to be grateful for is one strangers speak to me too often. And when I look them in eye and ask them what they mean, they stammer back, well you aren’t a drunk, you have a master’s degree, you’re working, you’re a good one.

Writer At Large

“New Year’s Eve 1984” by Troy Sebastian

Back at the hotel there is celebration. People are partying. Mom, Sherry, and I wait for the elevator to come back to the lobby and bring us to our floor. It comes and we enter, stunned, broken, and beyond loss.

Photo by Jess Lindner on Unsplash