Authentic Indigenous Content for Ages 5-12

As you prepare for another school year, we know you’re looking for thoughtful, high-quality Indigenous content to include in your lessons. Written by Indigenous authors, these books give teachers the language and tools to introduce students from kindergarten to grade 6 to Indigenous perspectives.

Books for Bringing Indigenous Perspectives and Knowledge into the Classroom

Stories help young children understand the world around them. These books use storytelling to teach elementary school students about both traditional and contemporary ways of life in Indigenous communities.

Siha Tooskin Knows series
for ages 9–11

Written by Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead
Illustrated by Chloe Bluebird Mustooch

Paul Wahasaypa (aka Siha Tooskin) is a young Nakota boy living in a modern, urban community guided by the age-old knowledge and traditions of his family, his people, and his ancestors. This 11-year-old boy demonstrates the spirit of love and community among his Indigenous relations. 

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Gifts of His People, Paul learns about the origins of many modern conveniences and inventions. There’s so much to learn about the earliest forms of technology, travel, medicine, and food from right here on Turtle Island! 

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Sacred Eagle Feather, Paul’s Mitoshin explains the teachings about where eagle feathers come from and why they are so sacred.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair, Paul is nervous about starting at a new school. Mitoshin reminds him how strength of character can be found in the strength of his hair.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Catcher of Dreams, Paul imagines the future of a new baby sister and listens to Mugoshin’s teachings about dream catchers.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life, Paul learns how strength, generosity, kindness, and humility are all shown to us by grandfather rocks, towering trees, four-legged ones, and winged ones.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Best Medicine, Paul isn’t feeling well, and he learns that there are answers for him from both the healing practices of his people and from Western medicine.

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Offering of Tobacco, Paul knows it is important to show honour and appreciation when taking plants from the earth or knowledge from a learned person. Join Paul and his teacher Mrs. Baxter as they learn about the protocol of offering tobacco. 

In Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance, Paul has invited his friend, Jeff, to his first-ever powwow! Follow along as Jeff learns all about the dances and their beautiful traditions.

Order all eight books as a set and save! 

Get the education guide to support learning and discussion.

Mothers of Xsan series
for ages 9–12

Written by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson)
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

The Gitxsan Nation are Indigenous peoples whose homeland surrounds the Xsan, or “River of Mist,” which is also known as the Skeena River. In the Mothers of Xsan series, author Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) and illustrator Natasha Donovan guide young readers through the life cycles that nourish the land and people. 

The Sockeye Mother follows a sockeye salmon fry from its nursing waters, to the Pacific ocean, and back.

The Grizzly Mother has readers joining a mother grizzly and her cubs as they journey through the Gitxsan territories.

The Eagle Mother shows how bald eagles can enrich their entire ecosystem in this perfect mix of story and science.

Click here to pre-order the fourth book, The Frog Mother, coming spring 2021.

When We Were Alone
for ages 4–8

Written by David Alexander Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett

An empowering story of resistance that gently introduces children to the history of residential schools in Canada. 

In When We Were Alone, a young girl notices things about her grandmother that make her curious. As she asks questions, her grandmother tells her about her experiences in a residential school.

Order the Governor General’s Award-winning book that captivated readers across the country. 

Coming soon in a bilingual edition featuring Swampy Cree syllabics and Roman orthography alongside the original English! Pre-order now to get it for your classroom this fall.

Awâsis and the World-Famous Bannock
for ages 4–8

Written by Dallas Hunt
Illustrated by Amanda Strong

When Awâsis’s kôhkum (grandmother) asks Awâsis to deliver a batch of her world-famous bannock to a relative, a mishap takes her on a detour through her community. As young readers follow Awâsis on her journey, they’ll encounter words in Cree that describe her world.

Using traditional Indigenous methods of storytelling to help kids practise common Cree words, this charming book includes a recipe for kôhkum’s world-famous bannock!

Add it to your library.

Nimoshom and His Bus
for ages 4–8

Written by Penny M. Thomas
Illustrated by Karen Hibbard

Children from all backgrounds will fall in love with Nimoshom, who loves driving the school bus for the children in his community. With beautiful watercolour illustrations, this heartwarming story brings kids aboard Nimoshom’s bus to learn daily expressions in Cree. 

Learn new Cree words with your students. Purchase this book for your classroom today.

Pīsim Finds Her Miskanaw
Revised Edition
for ages 10–18

Written by William Dumas
Illustrated by Leonard Paul

The newly revised edition of Pīsim Finds Her Miskanaw features updated Rocky Cree translations and an expanded glossary, augmented with new maps to give a more detailed look at Pīsim’s journey. These enhancements make this book a great tool for teachers and a great addition to any library.

Out of an important archaeological discovery came this unique story about a week in the life of Pīsim, a young Cree woman, who lived in the mid 1600s. Pīsim begins to recognize her miskanaw—the path for her life—and to develop her gifts for fulfilling that path. The story is accompanied by sidebars on Cree language and culture, archaeology and history, maps, songs, and more.

Get your copy here.

Great ideas for using this book in your classroom can be found in the Teacher’s Guide for Pīsim Finds Her Miskanaw.

Young readers are filled with curiosity about their world and the people in it. With colourful artwork and kid-friendly language, these books can help foster healthy dialogue about Indigenous peoples in your elementary classroom.

What are your favourite books to use in your classroom? Tell us in the comments!

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You are invited to Enjoy the View (Inside)!

Looking for an exciting journey this summer? Take a tour with Siha Tooskin and Enjoy the View (Inside)!

Join Siha Tooskin (Paul) as he explores his identity and develops a sense of cultural responsibility through the teachings, practices, and values of his Nakota family. 

View eight excerpts from the new Siha Tooskin Knows series for middle grade readers.

  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Best Medicine
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Catcher of Dreams
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Gifts of His People
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Offering of Tobacco
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Sacred Eagle Feather
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Strength of His Hair
  • Siha Tooskin Knows the Love of the Dance

Retrieve your boarding pass and read the excerpts by downloading the following pdf. Enjoy_the_View(Inside)Siha_Tooskin_Knows

Once you’ve had a chance to take this tour, let us know if you Enjoyed the View(Inside)! Share your thoughts, reactions, and ideas for using these books with your students at #HWPviewinside.


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 Dig Into These Indigenous Books for Your Summer Reading List

Looking for some great books to read this summer? Dig into one of our summer reads! We have compiled a summer reading list here for you with Own Voice stories perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Want to enhance your reading experience? We have included opportunities to “Dig Deeper” with each selection.  

Indigenous Books for Kids and Teens


I Will See You Again

By Lisa Boivin

This unique blend of art and story is an illustrated book for ages 12 and up. Written and illustrated by Lisa Boivin, the lyrical art and story leave readers with a universal message of hope and love. 

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. 

I Will See You Again was selected as one of “CBC’s 20 Canadian books for kids and teens to read for National Indigenous History Month.”

Dig Deeper 

Download the free I Will See You Again Reader’s Guide. Written to support discussions about Dene culture as explored through the author’s art, the guide also introduces a practice that can bring rest and healing: telling and sharing difficult experiences through art. Use this guide to reflect on I Will See You Again on your own, or as part of a discussion with friends and family, or students. 


The Eagle Mother (Mothers of Xsan, Book 3)

By Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) 
Illustrated by Natasha Donovan

Learn about the life cycle of these stunning birds of prey, the traditions of the Gitxsan, and how bald eagles can enrich their entire ecosystem. A perfect mix of story and science to hold the interest of readers aged 8-12. 

Dig Deeper

Experience more of the poetry of the Xsan river valley ecosystem through the first two books in the Mothers of Xsan series. With striking illustration and lyrical language, the award-winning books The Sockeye Mother and The Grizzly Mother  offer other perspectives of the ecosystem of “the River of Mists.” 

Click here for a video pronunciation guide for words featured throughout the series.


Siha Tooskin Knows the Nature of Life

By Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead
Illustrated by Chloe Bluebird Mustooch

Rocks, grass, trees, birds—what can they possibly teach human beings? This early chapter book is a great choice for a summer afternoon outside, and is suitable both for young readers or as a read-aloud for family storytime. 

Paul Wahasaypa knows that Ena Makoochay (Mother Earth) gives us many things. On this compelling nature journey with Ena (his mom), we learn how strength, generosity, kindness, and humility are all shown to us by grandfather rocks, towering trees, four-legged ones, and winged ones, reminding us of the part we have to play in this amazing creation.

Dig Deeper 

Enjoy the other seven titles in the Siha Tooskin Knows series, whose vivid narratives and dazzling illustrations in contemporary settings share more stories about Paul Wahasaypa (Siha Tooskin). 

You can also download the Free Education Guide that supports teachers, students, and families in learning about and discussing the teachings, practices, and values of Paul Wahasaypa’s Nakota family, and exploring these concepts in relation to the Indigenous peoples where they live.


When We Were Alone

By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett

David A. Robertson’s Governor General’s award-winning book, When We Were Alone, has recently returned to the Canadian Bestseller list. Included on Indigo’s “Antiracist Reading List for Kids,” it is a book for anyone looking for an age-appropriate way to teach young children about Residential Schools. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history and, ultimately, a story of empowerment and strength.


Dig Deeper

Click here to watch a video pronunciation guide for Cree Words used in the story. 

Download the free Parent/Teacher Guide. This guide helps parents and educators use When We Were Alone to discuss diverse perspectives, experiences, and traditions with young readers that foster a deeper understanding of ourselves as human beings and of our relationships with others. Watch a video conversation between the author and a classroom teacher about “Teaching Difficult Subjects.”

Indigenous Reads for Adults

The Evolution of Alice: Reissued Edition

By David A. Robertson

David A. Robertson’s first novel returns in this reissued edition with a new chapter, and a foreword by Shelagh Rogers. 

Immerse yourself in Alice’s story, where spirits are alive, forgiveness is possible, and love is the only thing that matters. Peopled with unforgettable characters and told from multiple points of view, The Evolution of Alice is the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community. 

Dig Deeper 

Did you know that the first edition of The Evolution of Alice was the 2016 On The Same Page selection. Visit the Winnipeg Public Library website for resources from the archives, including a Reader’s Guide. Grab a copy of the newly revised edition, a few of your friends, and host an online book club this summer! 

Not sure if you’ll have time to read the book? The Evolution of Alice is also coming soon as an audiobook. 

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada

By Chelsea Vowel

Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace…are you familiar with these terms? 

In the national bestseller Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about these (and more) concepts and the wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. The essays within this book will help to confront narratives about Canada’s history and Indigenous peoples.   

Dig Deeper

Indigenous Writes was a selection of Unsettling Ideas: Winnipeg Chapter, “a book club intended to engage students, staff, faculty and community in discussions around anti-racism, decolonization and reconciliation.” Join in the book club yourself and watch this video of the book club discussion with Chelsea Vowel. 

Potlatch as Pedagogy: Learning Through Ceremony 

By Sara Florence Davidson and Robert Davidson

Inspired by Haida ceremonial practice, father and daughter Robert Davidson and Sara Florence Davidson, present a model for learning that is holistic, relational, practical, and continuous. 

Over the course of her own education, educator Sara came to see how the traditions of the Haida practiced by her father—holistic, built on relationships, practical, and continuous—could be integrated into contemporary educational practices. 

Highly recommended for all educators and parents interested in exploring pedagogy and learning models this summer. 

Dig Deeper 

Check out the 5 Moore Minutes Book Club by Shelley Moore. The dynamic educator behind Reimagining Inclusion: The ONE Series hosted a virtual book club to explore Potlatch as Pedagogy. All episodes of this online conversation between educators are available on YouTube.

Something both Teens and Adults will enjoy

This Place: 150 Years Retold
Written and illustrated by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm et al.

Included on the 2020 Horn Book Summer Reading List as a high school pick, this award-winning graphic novel is a favourite of teen and adult readers alike. 

Explore the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators in this groundbreaking graphic novel anthology. See how Indigenous peoples have survived a post-apocalyptic world since Contact. 

Currently appearing on both Winnipeg and Canadian bestselling book lists, this is a popular Own Voices read for Indigenous History Month. 

Want to Dig Deeper? 

This Place: 150 Years Retold was selected for the One Book UWinnipeg Fall 2019 campus reading project. Learn more about This Place through the 1BUW website, including links to videos of panel discussions and author presentations. 

This Place: 150 Years Retold Teacher Guide is a great resource for teachers wanting to get a jumpstart on planning for next year! Bring This Place into your classroom to introduce your students to the unique demographic, historical, and cultural legacy of Indigenous communities, and explore acts of sovereignty and resiliency. 


We can’t wait to see where your summer reading takes you!

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Audiobooks Roundup

Are you heading back to the office? Catch up on your summer reading list during your daily commute! Find the audiobooks below on our website, or through your favourite audiobook app. 

The Reckoner Trilogy

Strangers Monsters Ghosts

Author: David A. Robertson
Narrated by: Malcolm Sparrow-Crawford

Do you know a superhero fan looking for a great origin story? Narrated by Malcolm Sparrow-Crawford, The Reckoner Trilogy audiobooks will transport you to the community of Wounded Sky First Nation. Here Cole finds his home community in chaos: a series of shocking murders, a mysterious illness ravaging residents, and new questions about Cole’s role in the tragedy that drove him away a decade ago. Strangers, Monsters, and Ghosts are great audiobooks for teens that will bring hours of enjoyment. 

Cole Harper’s story continues this fall! As you wait for Breakdown, the first volume in The Reckoner Rises graphic novel series, listen to this audiobook trilogy to find out where it all began. 

Start listening now:
HighWater Press

The Gift Is in the Making

The Gift is in the Making

Author: Leanne Betasamosake Simpson
Narrated by: Tiffany Ayalik

An audiobook the whole family can enjoy! In The Gift Is in the Making, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson retells familiar Anishnaabeg stories for a new generation. Tiffany Ayalik’s narration will immerse you in a world where all genders are respected, the tiniest being has influence in the world, and unconditional love binds families and communities to each other and to their homeland. Recommended for ages 9 to 15 and laugh-out-loud funny, this would be a great audiobook for your family road trip!

Coming July 13, 2020
HighWater Press

The Evolution of Alice: Reissued Edition

The Evolution of Alice

Author: David A. Robertson
Narrated by: Andrew White-Martin and Olivia Lucas 

Revisit Alice’s story in the reissued edition of The Evolution of Alice. Featuring a new chapter by David A. Robertson and a foreword by Shelagh Rogers, this audiobook narrated by Andrew White-Martin and Olivia Lucas tells the kaleidoscopic story of one woman’s place within the web of community. The Evolution of Alice is the first novel by award-winning writer David A. Robertson, and was selected as the one book all Manitobans should read as winner of On The Same Page (2016). 

Listen to a sample now. 

Coming June 30, 2020.
Pre-order Now:
HighWater Press

Indigenous Writes

Indigenous Writes

Author: Chelsea Vowel
Narrated by: Brianne Tucker 

In Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about the wider social beliefs associated with the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Canada. Brianne Tucker captures Vowel’s voice as she narrates these 31 essays that explore the Indigenous experience from the time of contact to the present, through five categories—Terminology of Relationships; Culture and Identity; Myth-Busting; State Violence; and Land, Learning, Law, and Treaties. She answers the questions that many people have on these topics to spark further conversations at home, in the classroom, and in the larger community.

Coming August 1, 2020
HighWater Press

One Without the Other

One Without the Other

Written and Narrated by: Shelley Moore

Narrated by the passionate and dynamic Shelley Moore, One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion explores the changing landscape of inclusive education. Hear real stories from Shelley’s own classroom experiences with this new audiobook.

Coming Fall 2020
Portage & Main Press

Looking forward to more audiobooks? We are, too! Be the first to learn about our upcoming HWP Audio and PMP Audio releases. Sign up now for our newsletter and receive the latest news and updates right in your inbox:

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Creator Roundup: When We Were Alone Swampy Cree Edition

We spoke with the creators of When We Were Alone, author David A. Robertson and illustrator Julie Flett, about the upcoming release of the When We Were Alone Swampy Cree Edition. This edition includes the text in English, Swampy Cree syllabics, and Swampy Cree Roman orthography.


Read to learn more about the inspiration behind the story, the illustrations, and what the Swampy Cree edition means to them.

A conversation with David A. Robertson: 

  • What inspired you to begin writing books about Indigenous history, especially the award-winning children’s picture book, When We Were Alone

For me, it was always about what I was taught when I was a child, or more specifically, what was available for me to be taught with, the focus of education in the 80s and 90s. There just weren’t the books then that are available now. And there wasn’t a desire or awareness to teach Indigenous history, about Indigenous people, contemporary issues. 

When I became aware of all this, I wanted to tell stories that would teach youth, and frankly everybody, about the things I missed when I was younger. 

For When We Were Alone, I wanted to write a picture book about residential schools that would honour my grandmother, and that would fulfill one of the calls to action of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s final report. And that is to teach residential school history to kids as early as kindergarten. There weren’t books like that available even in 2016, and there needed to be.  

  • The Swampy Cree edition of When We Were Alone will be released this summer. What is the connection between this story and Swampy Cree? What does the Swampy Cree edition mean to you?

It means a great deal to me. It’s my father’s first language, which is important. But it contributes to undoing intergenerational trauma, via loss of language for one (among many other traumas), by teaching the language in a book about a system that tried to eradicate it. I think that’s profound and vitally important. 

  • In a recent article with CBC, you spoke about storytelling as healing. In it, you have an amazing line that reads, “Storytelling breaks through intergenerational trauma because it’s an act of intergenerational healing.” Can you talk about how that idea relates to When We Were Alone? 

The book is about a grandmother talking about her history with her grandchild. When we share our truths, it helps us to heal, and it helps others to heal because they can connect their own traumas with ours. 

That connection is community, and it facilitates collective and lasting healing that I think is what reconciliation is. It takes a long time, but that’s the act: healing through sharing truths, through listening and learning. Trauma was passed down through generations, but healing can be achieved through a similar act, by passing down truths.

In the oral tradition, we passed down traditions, values, histories, mythologies, ways of living through stories. We passed these things from one generation to another to ensure they are not lost. Healing happens that way. It’s a beautiful act, and one we should all strive towards. Books play an important role in that process. 

A conversation with Julie Flett:

  • Your colourful and calming illustrations help bring When We Were Alone to life so beautifully. Can you talk about the inspiration behind your illustrations?

I find that when I’m working on pictures for a story, I often start with the landscape. The children in the story When We Were Alone have been separated from family and home, and I thought of the land and landscape as connecting the children to their homes, if only briefly, a sense of autonomy from the confinement of the institution.  

‘When they were alone’ and the ‘teachers weren’t anywhere around the place they were’, they were on the land. From there, I looked at pictures from the places where my dad and David’s father had grown up in Manitoba and drew from the colour systems of those landscapes.

  1. How did you want your illustrations to feel? What was the tone you were aiming for with When We Were Alone?

I remember reading one of the children’s books I’d worked on with a residential school survivor years ago—she ran her finger along the words to follow along. The book wasn’t about residential schools, but when we were finished reading, she shared some of her experiences of residential school.

It was very tender for her to share this. I thought about her and so many of the survivors we know, when I started to work on When We Were Alone, and how to make pictures that honoured their experiences while being sensitive to what they would be looking at, if they encountered When We Were Alone. Similarly, for the children who encounter When We Were Alone, most importantly, the visuals needed to speak to the experience in a sensitive way.

  1. How was this project different from other books you have illustrated?

I had to take my time on some of the more emotionally challenging images. That was not always easy as the story went along. I worked and reworked the image for the page that reads ‘they cut off their hair.’ I remember leaving that one for a time. 

Initially the drawing had several braids that I’d set on the floor below the little girl, who was so vulnerable. Eventually I took the braids out and left just the one. And the picture with ‘they wanted us to look like everyone else’ also took some time. It’s also such a vulnerable image, thinking about the kids over and over and what they were feeling and going through.

All of this said, it’s such an important story and I’m so grateful to have been able to collaborate on it. I know that it honours survivors and all the children and caregivers we’ve shared it with over the years now.

The Swampy Cree Edition of When We Were Alone will be published on August 25, 2020. 

Pre-order it on our website now.

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Siha Tooskin Knows Series: Interview with Authors Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead

Charlene Bearhead and Wilson Bearhead are the authors of the Siha Tooskin Knows series. Eleven-year-old Siha Tooskin (Paul) is a Nakota boy who is learning about his identity and developing a sense of cultural responsibility in a contemporary, urban setting. The series is illustrated by multi-talented artist Chloe Bluebird Mustooch.

Read our interview with Charlene and Wilson below to learn more about the series, their work, and the inspiration behind the books. 

  1. The Siha Tooskin Knows series uses vivid narratives and illustrations in contemporary settings to share stories about an 11-year-old Nakota boy. Can you touch on what it was like working with illustrator Chloe Bluebird Mustooch?

WB: It is good to have a young Nakota woman who has gone to such great lengths to educate herself, and to become an illustrator, for books like ours. It inspires me to see how far she has come in such a short time.

CB: Working with Bluebird has been such a gift. She is an incredibly gifted artist and graphic designer. She was able to bring Siha Tooskin, his family, and the stories to life in a way that we couldn’t have even dreamed of for so many reasons. Bluebird is a young Nakota woman who grew up with many of the same teachings as Siha Tooskin, Wilson, and our own children. The fact that Bluebird grew up with my children made this especially meaningful for me. Having watched her grow into the amazing woman that she is, to have been her grade-8 teacher, to have shared in so many ceremonies with Bluebird and her family, and to have the honour of working with her on her first book series is beyond anything I could have hoped for. Every time we met to review the illustrations, I was blown out of the water. I have such a deep respect for Bluebird, her talent, and the way that she carries herself in every aspect of her life.

  1. Can you talk about the Nakota language and how you have incorporated it into the story?

WB: Nakota was my first language and most of my teachings came through stories in the Nakota language. For me the words express more meaning with regard to what the story is about. So as a child, it made it easy for me to listen to the storyteller who spoke to me in the Nakota language. Those stories and the storytellers are still with me today. So I hoped that by including some Nakota language in the Siha Tooskin Knows books that the children who are reading them will feel what I felt when I was a child hearing stories in my language. 

CB: For me learning at least the most basic terminology to show respect to the people upon whose territory we live is just something that should be a given. The least we can do is to put forth the effort to learn. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge that there is a way to be with, and relate to, people in their own lands and communities. 

On a personal note I have always been so grateful to the people who took the time to teach me words in their language. Late Ena Gladys Kyme taught me so much… and she had so many good laughs at my pronunciation when I started to learn. My own children were blessed to be taught some basic Nakota by their aunties that cared for them at the daycare at Alexis First Nation when they were very young. They responded in such a different way, a more positive way, when I used the Nakota words that they knew with them. 

I don’t understand the language fluently, or come even close, but I know the feelings of hope and peace and comfort that I get when I hear the language being spoken at gatherings or in ceremony. I believe that the children, and maybe even their parents and teachers, reading the Siha Tooskin Knows stories will feel the caring and connectedness in the Nakota words that we share in the books. 

  1. You have previously mentioned that you created these books in part to teach your own children Nakota values. Can you talk about how your experiences as parents contributed to the development of the series?

WB: What I learned early in life, and the values that were presented in how we should treat each other, are the things that I have tried to incorporate as a parent. We tried to incorporate that approach to teaching our children in Siha Tooskin Knows. We wanted to demonstrate this approach to teaching our children that inspires them to learn in the way that the people in Paul’s life teach him as he learns and wants to continue to learn.

CB: My children were raised in ceremony from the time they were babies. We have been so blessed to have generous, loving, knowledgeable people in our lives who all contributed to teaching and raising my children when they were young. Where the struggles came was in helping them understand why other people, non-Indigenous classmates and community people, didn’t understand them or who they were. The stories started out as happy, positive stories about a little boy named Paul who was like them, and who had teachings like theirs, who was supported and able to keep his teachings and his family connections and to try to help teach others in a good way. 

Now let’s be honest… doing this in a children’s book where you have control of all of the elements and outcomes is much easier than real life ☺ But we tried our best to parent our children in the best way possible… which is what every parent does. We all want our children to feel happy and safe. That guided us in developing the life of Paul and his family. It is what we would hope for our own children and grandchildren… for all children really.

4. Charlene, you started off your career teaching in both Alberta and Manitoba. What inspired the transition from teaching in the physical classroom to becoming an advocate for Indigenous education?

I’d love to say that the transition was something that I thought out thoroughly and was the architect of, but that’s not true. I have come to believe that our path is set for us and if we have the humility, the will, and the courage to be open to what that might be, the path will show itself, and we just need to follow that path.

I think that journey for me began, in part, while I was still in the classroom and it just grew from there. Meeting Indigenous students who didn’t even know who they were. That had been so disenfranchised from themselves that they could only tell me “I’m Native. That’s all I know” or meeting kids who tried to pass themselves off as Asian to dodge the racism. Meeting the Elders and community members who were willing to come to my class and teach all of the students their truth, the age-old science and philosophy and legal systems and so much more… those were all the people who inspired me to step up and do my part.

Then becoming a parent myself and having so many choices and opportunities put in front of me that I could take or turn my back on. I spent some time early on coming up with all of the reasons that I wasn’t the person who had the right or was best-placed to do some of the things asked of me, but I came to realize that the only thing that I have the right to do, or the responsibility to do, is my own part. I leave the rest to others. I’d love to say that I came up with that all on my own but again… not true.

The real turning point for me was in the mid-1990s while I stood waiting to be called up by the Chiefs at a meeting at Maskwacis to make a report on our progress on the First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative. I was very nervous and said to late Sherman Jones, “I don’t think this should be me doing this.” He just smiled and said, “Would you just shut up about what you should and shouldn’t be doing and just do what you’re asked to do. You didn’t put yourself here. They asked you to do this, so just do it, and stop talking about who should do this part. You’re wasting time.” That was it for me. Since that day I’ve just tried to do my part when asked to help. 

I believe that every single one of us has a part to play in making our communities and society better for our children and grandchildren now and in the future. I try to stay in my own lane, do what I believe I can do and embrace what other people bring to the path. I may not get it right all the time, but I want to be able to tell my children and grandchildren that I didn’t stand by and watch things that I knew were wrong and that I did all that I could do in the short time I had on this earth. I hope they will feel like I did enough when my time here is done.

5. Along with the Siha Tooskin Knows series, you are also releasing a guide for educators. What can educators expect from the guide? 

WB: I hope that teachers see that not only do Indigenous stories inspire, these stories also give us direction and solutions to some of the challenges that we face in our lives every day.  We have to find the solutions for ourselves, but they are present in the teachings and the stories. We hope that the guide helps teachers and parents seek out those solutions for themselves and to help their children to do the same.

CB:  I hope that the guide will help teachers, but might also support parents, and Sunday school teachers, and youth group leaders and anyone else who wants to learn more with their kids but isn’t really sure how to dive in. The guide starts out by giving the adults some support to prepare for the teaching. Things like tips about how to invite Elders and Indigenous Knowledge Keepers to work with you, basic terminology to use when engaging in learning with and about Indigenous peoples, how to manage difficult discussion, and how to create an ethical space for learning.

There are also lessons for each book. Each lesson will explore some of the words, terms, and concepts used in the book. There are a series of inquiry questions offered for teachers to choose from to engage students in taking the learning beyond the stories, to learn about the Indigenous peoples where they live, and to relate the learning to their own people. There are activities that students will undertake to demonstrate their own learning and give them opportunities to share their learning with others in the school and community.

6. Wilson, as a Nakota Elder, can you explain why it’s important for children to learn these teachings at a young age? What lessons do you hope students take away from the series?

WB: I was taught that young children need to learn many things. About who they are and what they need to learn in life. Early understanding helps them to live in this world. People who present positive, traditional practices will give children confidence and connection within their own spirits. 

Siha Tooskin presents a view that reflects the Nakota teachings that I learned as a child. What I hope children take from this series is that they are a willingness to be open, to share, to be a part of things… I think that Siha Tooskin brings messages of respect and kindness. Those are the most important lessons of all. 

The Siha Tooskin Knows series is available now! Buy together and save here. 

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Interview with Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D. Huson) – Mothers of Xsan for Earth Day

Brett D. Huson

Growing up in the strong matrilineal society of the Gitxsan, Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (Brett D.Huson) developed a passion for the culture, land, and politics of his people, and a desire to share their knowledge and stories.

In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, we spoke with this award-winning author and educator. In our interview with Brett, he answers questions about the Mothers of Xsan series and its connection to environment, sustainability, and the Gitxsan Nation, as well as his upcoming release The Eagle Mother

The Mothers of Xsan series is an incredible resource for science teachers, touching on important topics like environmentalism and sustainability. What are some of the most important takeaways from the series? 

The Mothers of Xsan series is a part of a larger vision of mine that I’ve been developing for some time. I have always had a deep interest in scientific studies as they have been incredible with regard to bridging the gap between the world and our understanding of the finer moving parts of life. Regardless of where we are with our comprehension of the world, whether it be in microbiology, physics, medicine, or mathematics, scientific study still lacks much of the “bigger picture.” My goal is to connect Indigenous knowledges with science because Indigenous peoples have existed in equilibrium with their ecosystems for thousands of years longer than any sort of modern practice of science has existed. 

I hope that through my work, people can begin to see the importance of preserving knowledges that have kept civilizations healthy and thriving for well over 15,000 years in specific locations that, over time, have gone through climate and ecological change. Studies, like those being done at the University of British Columbia, are proving the validity of Indigenous knowledges in preserving and even creating more biodiverse and healthy environments.

This series of books for children is meant to present the idea of interconnectedness of all life to the land, in a way that hopefully will encourage young minds to approach their world in a different way in the future. To understand that all living things are important and needed for balance in our world.  

You won the 2018 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Youth Book Award for The Sockeye Mother. At the time, you said it meant a lot to you because of your love for science. Where did your passion and interest for these topics come from?

Many evenings as a child were spent visiting my mom’s parents. From a young age, I was exposed to endless viewings of National Geographic videos, Discovery Channel, and discussions between my ye’eh (grandfather) and my nigwotxw (father) about the land and use of the land. My dad always had a strong passion in discovering how everything worked, biologically, mechanically, mathematically, and physically. I guess a lot of that passion passed along to me.

My people, the Gitxsan, have always had a philosophical approach to life and worked toward understanding everything about our ecosystems because it meant the survival of the land and our people many generations into the future. We were removed from this way of life when the first Christians came to our lands and began to remove us from the land and place us on reserves and the children in residential schools.

You grew up in the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia. How has being a member of the Gitxsan Nation influenced your work as an author and an educator?

The Gitxsan Nation exists in a land that is unforgiving and very unique. We have lived on our territories since time immemorial and developed language, art, agriculture, aquaculture, and governance. Basically, it is a way of life that allows us to thrive. So being Gitxsan is who I am, and we have always viewed ourselves as Gitxsan first and foremost. We are matrilineal, so our rights, privileges, and names within our culture come from our mothers. So, everything that I am is what my work is. I hope to instill a love for the land in young readers that will stay with them as they grow up. Hopefully, they can see the world the way that I see mine.

In previous interviews, you have said “our language was shaped by the land, our artwork is shaped by the land, and everything we do and everything that we are comes from [the] earth.” Can you elaborate on this statement?

Part of what is disconnecting humanity from seeing how unbalanced our ecosystems are right now is the simple fact that more and more populations of people are moving to urban centres. Urbanism has created a unique pocket of life outside of a working and operating ecosystem, yet those ecosystems are still providing water and oxygen to the urban dwellers. Experiences are the things that lead to greater knowledge of the unknown, but unfortunately, we are continually removing ourselves from the very thing that keeps us alive.

Gitxsan culture comes from thousands of years of experience on the land that is our home. Great moments of change, catastrophe, and wonderment that happened on those lands became moments to commemorate and create new words for. New works of art grew from our growing understanding of what allowed us to live. The whole nature of the words we developed were basic, because they only needed to describe the necessities of life.

Ceremony wasn’t about celebrating “man” or “deities,” but more about asking for life, creating more positive energy to exist in our environment, and helping our energy to stay healthy so our bodies could heal themselves. In our understanding, our energy that came from the sun did a lot to help us. The first Christians who were the ones to translate our language and stories turned them into mystical stories and called our energy “spirit.” But nomenclature doesn’t matter, what matters is that our cultures have an understanding of what made our whole existence. Energy.

Each story in this series gives insight into a different area and/or animal in the Xsan ecosystem. What can readers expect from your upcoming book, The Eagle Mother?

The Eagle Mother is a window into a small part of the world of the eagle, the Gitxsan relation to the Eagle, and a little bit about the role the eagle plays in this environment. I hope that young readers will grow to love and understand this beautiful bird a lot more. My kids absolutely love the story and the beautiful imagery created by my partner in these stories (who I could not do them without), Natasha Donovan.

I’m excited to get more fan mail from the students and people who create their own artwork of The Eagle Mother!

Pre-order The Eagle Mother on our website today!

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Teacher Guides to Help Lead Classroom Discussions

Did you know several of our titles have accompanying teacher guides? You can use these guides to ensure heavier topics are hitting the right mark with your students or simply to help plan your lessons. Some even include curriculum correlation charts! If you’re a little nervous about discussing Indigenous issues in your classroom, these resources are worth checking out.

Each one of our teacher guides makes an excellent companion to its respective book. Best of all, most guides are free to download in a printable format (pdf).

Read about some of our newest guides below!

I Will See You Again Reader’s Guide 

By Allison Crawford with Lisa Boivin
For all teachers

In I Will See You Again, the author learns of the death of her brother overseas and embarks on a journey to bring him home. Through memories and dreams of all they shared and through her Dene traditions, she finds comfort and strength. Lisa Boivin’s story touches on universal themes and experiences related to death, grief, family, and healing from loss. 

The I Will See You Again Reader’s Guide provides support to parents, educators, and communities for sharing and discussing these ideas. Written to support discussions about Dene culture as explored through the author’s art, the guide also introduces a practice that can bring rest and healing: telling and sharing difficult experiences through art.

These subjects are meant to spark reflection and conversations among readers. 

Download the I Will See You Again Reader’s Guide on our website now.

This Place Teacher guide

This Place: 150 Years Retold Teacher Guide 

by Christine M’Lot
for grades 9–12

The groundbreaking graphic novel anthology, This Place: 150 Years Retold, explores the past 150 years through the eyes of Indigenous creators. Beautifully illustrated, these stories are an emotional and enlightening journey through Indigenous wonderworks, Canadian history, and time travel. 

This teacher guide is meant to be a no-prep resource for educators to use for stand-alone lessons or a complete unit plan. Many activities in this guide infuse Indigenous pedagogical practice, such as by having students work collaboratively or take on the role of expert and teacher. 

This graphic novel deals with sensitive topics such as racism, suicide, violence and abuse, the child welfare system, and even cannibalism. This guide aims to help students understand complexities and embrace worldviews that may be different from their own.

Pre-order the guide on our website now. 

Siha Tooskin Knows Education Guide

Siha Tooskin Knows Education Guide 

by Charlene Bearhead
for grades 3–6

The Siha Tooskin Knows Education Guide supports learning about and discussing the teachings, practices, and values of Paul Wahasaypa’s Nakota family. The guide helps readers explore learning through storied experience, visual representations of teachings, values, and relationships.

Both the Siha Tooskin Knows series and the education guide aim to support readers in exploring the cultures of Siha Tooskin and relating his experiences, values, and practices to those of their own families and communities.

Pre-order the guide on our website now. 

Surviving the City Teacher Guide

by Christine M’Lot

for grades 9–12

Tasha Spillet-Sumner’s graphic novel, Surviving the City (Surviving the City, Vol. 1), tells a story of kinship, resilience, cultural resurgence, and the anguish of a missing loved one. 

The Surviving the City Teacher Guide provides support for addressing sensitive topics in the classroom (such as racism, caregiver illness, the child welfare system, residential schools, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Two-Spirit People) when reading the first volume in the Surviving the City series. 

In this teacher guide:

  • Students will be learning about, exploring, researching, and presenting on essential themes that arise in the graphic novel.
  • The lesson plans are formatted using the Activate, Acquire, Apply, and Assess (AAAA) format for ease-of-use.
  • Activities throughout the lessons infuse Indigenous pedagogical practice.

This teacher guide is best suited for use in grades 9–12 classrooms such as Grades 9–12 English, Grade 12 Global Issues, and Grade 12 Current Topics in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies.

Purchase the guide on our website today.

Teacher Guide for K.C. Adams’s Perception: A Photo Series 

by Reuben Boulette

Grade: for grade 9–12

K.C. Adams’s acclaimed photo series, Perception, came out in book form early last year. The project first gained attention when Adams’s photographs appeared on bus shelters and billboards and projected on buildings in downtown Winnipeg. Each of Adams’s photos is a portrait of an Indigenous person that trades harmful stereotypes for statements of truth. The emotional expressions of her subjects, the stark black-and-white images, and the striking text invited onlookers to “look, then look again” at stereotypes about Indigenous people. Perception: A Photo Series collects a selection of Adams’s photographs into one book.

The Teacher Guide for K.C. Adams’s Perception: A Photo Series was written by Reuben Boulette for high school teachers. You can use the guide to empower teens to question harmful stereotypes about Indigenous people. As a bonus, each module has suggestions for assessing your students’ takeaways from Perception.

While these books and their accompanying guides make great tools, this is only a shortlist of what is available to you. You can find many more titles for teaching Indigenous histories and perspectives in our catalogue. Browse our full collection of teacher guides on our For Teachers page. We’re always developing new educational materialsdon’t forget to bookmark it to check back for new content! 

Purchase the guide on our website today.

Purchase these educational guides and more on our website today!

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Interview with Shelley Moore


Shelley Moore is a groundbreaking and inspirational teacher, speaker, and storyteller. Her book, One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion, tackles inclusion as a philosophy and practice, the difference between integration and inclusion, and how inclusion can work with a variety of students and abilities.

Through her work, you can tell how passionate she is about inclusive education, curriculum, and teacher professional development. 

Read our interview with Shelley Moore below to learn more about her accomplishments and about where her passion for inclusion comes from.

You have shown such passion promoting success and inclusion for all learners, where does this dedication stem from?

I could never have imagined that my life’s path would have taken me in this direction. I was very much a student who struggled in school, and the stories and anecdotes that I share were just my way of learning from and helping my own teaching practice. I knew I went into education so that I could work with kids like me and hopefully help make their schooling experience better than mine, but I just cannot believe that so many people are listening and reading these stories and making a change in the lives of their students. The work feeds my soul knowing the possible impact this journey can have on the lives of the kids we work with.

In previous interviews you have said, “We don’t do inclusion. We live it.” Can you elaborate on this message and its importance?

Inclusion lives in two worlds: the philosophical and the practical. Philosophically, most of us agree that inclusion is important, but practically, there are so many versions and definitions of how it should be enacted that it makes it very hard to work towards a common vision. As a result, the practicalities of inclusion become very misunderstood, and we lose track of the why. 

To “live” inclusively is to never lose track of the why, because without it, we can’t do it. Without the why, inclusion becomes about training and programs and less about the people—the students and the families that we are trying to serve. To “live” inclusion means that we advocate for it, no matter what. We commit to doing the best we can with what we have. Even when resources are low, and funding is cut, and people are tired and kids are upset. Resources are not the gatekeeper of inclusion, belief is—which is why “living it” is so critical to the journey.

Your second book, All for One: Designing Individual Education Plans for Inclusive Classrooms will be released in early 2021. What can teachers expect from this book?

In my first book, One without the Other, we dig into the “what” and “why” of inclusion. In All for One, we start to look at the “how.” All for One will tackle Individual Education Plans (IEPS) and take readers through a journey of how teachers in British Columbia came together to evolve the IEP process and make it more inclusive and aligned to 21st century curriculum and learning with aims to guide school teams in how to plan for individuals in inclusive classrooms.

Five Moore Minutes, your YouTube series, has been an incredible resource for educators since you launched it a year ago. What has been the biggest lesson you have learned both personally and professionally since launching the series?

Five Moore Minutes has been such a fun project to work on. Another venture that I didn’t anticipate being so successful. I think what I have learned through the process is the importance of time and that we cannot rush the learning of educators. So often, professional development is provided as a one-time, one-hit wonder in large amounts. It is so hard to implement and reflect and process and learn all at the same time. So creating these little videos has taught me how important the time is for targeting little chunks of learning and reflection over time. This allows for conversations to occur and questions to be asked. It encourages small applications and adjustments to our practice in ways that are fun and light.

I will also add that trying to synthesize my thinking and learning into a five-minute script is quite the process. It has definitely helped to solidify my thinking and my confidence in understanding the concepts we are uncovering.

You often use analogies like bowling and the sweeper van to teach educators about inclusion. Why do you think these analogies resonate with educators?

I love analogies. They are how I learn about big ideas and concepts. I wish I had learned the strategy earlier in my life! The visualization and application of metaphors and how they apply to my life is so critical to my learning process. Through this, I am realizing that more people than I thought might also learn like me.

All for One: Designing Individual Education Plans for Inclusive Classrooms will be available in 2021. You can pre-order your copy now.

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Hands-On Creator Jennifer Lawson: An Interview

Hands-On, a collection of comprehensive, ready-to-use resources for teachers in Canada was founded and written by series editor, Jennifer Lawson. In addition to writing, she teaches at the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Education and is a local school board trustee. 

Jennifer Lawson is an innovative educator—she has helped shape the future of education as we know it in Canada. She took on the monumental task of creating this incredible resource in the 80s and 90s, when there were no curriculum resources of this kind. Jennifer has created something that stands the test of time, and Hands-On continues to evolve to respond to the needs of today’s classrooms.

Read about where the series started and how it has evolved in our interview with Jennifer below.

  1. The Hands-On collection of books has been a go-to classroom resource for many years. Where did the concept originally come from, and what made you decide to create these books?

Interestingly, the first Hands-On series was a direct result of my Master’s thesis research. I was wanting to look at how children in the early years best learn science and wanted to compare the traditional textbook approach that was being used at the time (even in grades one and two), with a hands-on approach that focused on the development of students’ science process skills.

To test my hypothesis, I needed to pilot this new approach in classrooms, but there were no resources for teachers to use. It was very much the days of the textbook in the 1980s. So, I wrote grades 1, 2, and 3 Hands-On Science, based on the Manitoba Science Curriculum. I piloted it in nine classrooms in the St. James-Assiniboia School Division, and conducted pre- and post-tests with students to determine the development of their science process skills and knowledge. I also included surveys for teachers on the value of the resource and the approach being used.

Shortly thereafter, I was approached by Peguis Publishers, the company that has since become Portage & Main Press. They have been publishing the Hands-On collection since the 1990s.

  1. Your passion for a student-driven inquiry approach shows throughout the entire Hands-On collection. Where did this passion come from and how do you incorporate this approach in Hands-On?

I graduated with a Bachelor of Education majoring in Canadian Literature and Music. I was definitely a humanities person. I had taken one science course in my four-year degree, and only because I had to! Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to love teaching science, let alone writing resources for teachers.

Once I began teaching in 1980 (grade 2 in Souris, Manitoba), I began to dig deep into the science curriculum to ensure my commitment to addressing the expectations. As teachers, we are obligated to teach the curriculum, in each subject area, for our grade level. I vividly recall working on the grade 2 unit on solids, liquids, and gases, and loving it. I learned so much as a teacher about the value of a hands-on, student-centered approach to teaching. And I saw in my students a kind of motivation and engagement that I had not seen when using other approaches. After a few years in the classroom, I decided to go back for my Master’s degree with a focus on science, to explore this area further. 

I believe as learners, both children, and adults, we are more engaged and successful in the learning process when the pedagogy focuses on real-life, activity-based learning. And that is what the Hands-On collection is all about. 

  1. There are many editions of most of the Hands-On books. How would you say the Hands-On collection has changed over the years?

 The main changes have come about by addressing current research in education, and specifically within each subject area. So, for example, the current emphasis on differentiated instruction inspired us to include the activity centres in many series. These activity centres focus specifically on the various ways in which students learn. This allows students to work on tasks using their strengths, but also challenges them to approach tasks that might be outside of their skill set, helping them to develop new skills.

We also make significant changes in each new series based on the current curricular focus and local context. For example, in the newest edition of Hand-On Social Studies for Ontario, there is a strong emphasis on Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, which is a key aspect of the most recent revisions to the curriculum. As another example, the new Hands-On Science for British Columbia includes a focus on multi-age learning environments and student self-assessment, both of which are addressed in the redesigned curriculum for BC. 

  1. As a former classroom teacher yourself, can you describe what makes Hands-On so useful for teachers?

For this one, I asked a practicing classroom teacher, who has also been a contributing author for many of our resources:

  • Curriculum-based content
  • The format makes it easy to plan and implement. Every lesson is laid out step by step.
  • A teacher can open up a HOS book to the unit of their choice and get started right away.
  • Hands-on activities and a variety of research-based teaching strategies
  • Design and inquiry projects

All students can participate in some capacity in each unit.

  1. Hands-On resources are considered by many teachers as the best and the only resource they need to teach in their classrooms. Why is that?

All of the Hands-On resources are developed with a brand-new teacher in mind. That is not to say that they aren’t just as valuable for an experienced teacher, but we include everything that a teacher might need in terms of background information and content, guiding questions, materials, and activities. Since we focus specifically on the curriculum expectations or outcomes, teachers can be sure that they are addressing curricular obligations. Hands-On resources provide the teacher with everything they need to teach an inquiry-based, student-centred program.

  1. You’ve worked on every book in the Hands-On series. Which series has been your favourite and why?

I love different Hands-On books for different reasons. With my background being in science, the most recent Hands-On Science and Technology for Ontario was a fabulous project to work on in terms of infusing inquiry-based learning and differentiated instruction. The Manitoba series for social studies is another favourite because of the local context. Many other resources, not written specifically for an individual province, are unable to address local issues and content. There is such amazing work done in Hands-On Social Studies for Manitoba, especially some of the history of the Métis people, the Red River Settlement, and Louis Riel. Another favourite is the brand-new Hands-On Science for British Columbia. This one challenged me as a writer because it was our first resource for multi-age classrooms. And I always love a challenge!

Order the Hands-On series for your classroom today.



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