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Books for Bringing Indigenous Knowledge and Perspectives into the Classroom

By Kirsten Phillips | Date: September 28, 2021

We are turning the corner into October and we’ve heard from teachers like you interested in including Indigenous perspectives in their curriculum.

Grades 7–12 are tumultuous years for all students, and a time when kids are especially vulnerable to bias. These titles help Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth process tough concepts while offering a more multi-dimensional understanding of Canada.

Incorporate great literature from Indigenous authors into your lessons with the list below.


Surviving the City series
for ages 12–18
by Tasha Spillett-Sumner | illustrated by Natasha Donovan


High school is tough enough. On top of class work, best friends Miikwan and Dez struggle with grief for missing family members, the death of a grandparent, placement in a group home, navigating a first love, and coming into their identities, as well as being at odds with each other from time to time. Together, the teens face the challenges of growing up Indigenous in an urban landscape, and learn to look to their communities and the spirits of their ancestors for support.

Surviving the City and From the Roots Up deal with the racism and discrimination experienced by Indigenous and Two-Spirit teens. These eye-opening graphic novels are written by New York Times bestselling author Tasha Spillett-Sumner with captivating artwork by Natasha Donovan. 

Order your copies here.


The Reckoner Rises series
for ages 12–18
by David A. Robertson | illustrated by Scott B. Henderson | colour by Donovan Yaciuk

Acclaimed writer, David A. Robertson, delivers again with suspense, adventure, and humour in this stunningly illustrated graphic novel continuation of The Reckoner trilogy.


Breakdown (Volume 1) picks up the story after the events in Wounded Sky First Nation. Cole and Eva arrive in Winnipeg, the headquarters of Mihko Laboratories, intent on destroying the company once and for all. However, their plans are thwarted when a new threat surfaces. When Cole is mired in terrifying visions, Eva must harness her newly discovered powers to investigate Mihko without him. Are Cole's visions just troubled dreams or are they leading him to a horrible truth?

Pre-order Version Control (Volume 2) today!

Perfect for superhero fans, The Bloodhound Gang returns in this all-new graphic novel series, The Reckoner Rises!


I Will See You Again
for ages 15+
Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin

Presenting “a fresh understanding of death and grief” (Publishers Weekly), this book is a breathtaking journey through art, loss, and love from interdisciplinary artist and bioethicist Lisa Boivin.


When the author learns of the death of her brother overseas, she embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared together, and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. 

The lyrical art and story leave readers with a universal message of hope and love.

Get your copy here.

This book also has a reader’s guide for teachers, parents, and communities to help guide discussions and lesson planning. 


Perception: A Photo Series
for ages 16+
by KC Adams

After a racist, high-profile Facebook post surfaced in artist KC Adams’s hometown, she decided to challenge people to “look, then look again” at Winnipeg’s Indigenous people. This brilliant collection of portraits was first displayed on billboards, buildings, and bus shelters around the city. Each image aims to replace dehumanizing assumptions with positive truths about the subjects’ identities.


With a foreword by Katherena Vermette and a critical essay by Cathy Mattes, Perception is a valuable resource for dismantling stereotypes and guiding conversations about bias and racism.

Look for yourself—then look again—by ordering Perception in hardcover. Download a copy of the free Teacher Guide here.


A Girl Called Echo series
for ages 12–14
by Katherena Vermette | illustrated by Scott B. Henderson | colour by Donovan Yaciuk

When we first meet thirteen-year-old Echo Desjardins, she is adjusting to her new reality: separated from her mother, living in a new foster home, and navigating the first few days of middle school. Everyday life is hard enough—but she can’t stop slipping back and forth in time. In this graphic novel series, Echo struggles to make sense of the present while learning more about her Métis heritage. 


With absolutely stunning artwork by Scott B. Henderson and Donovan Yaciuk, author Katherena Vermette’s A Girl Called Echo series brings the history of the Métis Nation to life. 

The four graphic novels in the series, Pemmican Wars, Red River Resistance, Northwest Resistance, and Road Allowance Era are available now. 


This Place:150 Years Retold
for ages 15+

Indigenous broadcaster and film critic Jesse Wente has called This Place: 150 Years Retold  “the graphic novel I’ve waited for my whole life, and the graphic novel Canada has needed for 150 years.” 


This Place is a groundbreaking graphic novel anthology that re-frames Canada’s history, present, and future through the perspectives of Indigenous writers. Through the anthology’s 10 beautifully illustrated stories,  readers will encounter Indigenous wonderworks, psychic battles, and even time travel.

Get a new perspective on the past 150 years—and beyond—by ordering your copy today.

Listen to the CBC Podcasts, This Place. The 10-episode series is hosted by Rosanna Deerchild and turns the graphic anthology about Canadian history into a podcast.

Include the title in your lesson plans this fall with the teacher guide updated to include a lesson for the podcast.


Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story - 10th Anniversary Edition
for ages 15–18
by David A. Robertson | illustrated by Scott B. Henderson | colour by Donovan Yaciuk

Sugar Falls: A Residential School Story by David A. Robertson is based on the true story of Betty Ross, Elder from Cross Lake First Nation.


This 10th-anniversary edition brings David A. Robertson’s national bestseller to life in full colour by Donovan Yaciuk, elevating the illustrations from Scott B. Henderson. It also includes a foreword by Hon. Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and a touching afterword from Elder Betty Ross herself.

Get the updated and full-colour version as well as the guide for teachers today!


Spíləx̣m: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence
for ages 18+
by Nicola I. Campbell


In this extraordinary memoir, best-selling author Nicola I. Campbell deftly weaves rich poetry and vivid prose into a story basket of memories orating what it means to be an intergenerational survivor of Indian Residential Schools.

Find Spíləxm: A Weaving of Recovery, Resilience, and Resurgence here.


Three Feathers
for ages 15-18
by Richard Van Camp | illustrated by K. Mateus

In Three Feathers, author Richard Van Camp explores the power and grace of restorative justice in one Northern Indigenous community and the cultural legacy that can empower future generations.


This coming of age story follows three young men who have vandalized their community and explore taking responsibility for their actions and humility.

Pick up one of the editions of Three Feathers today.

Find Three Feathers (English edition) here

Find Nisto Mekwana (bilingual edition) here

Find  Taghe ?et'a (bilingual edition) here

Find Det’oni-t’á tai  (bilingual edition) here


What are your favourite books to use with your students? Tell us @PortageMainPres