November 18, 2017

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Speaking Our Truth by Monique Gray Smith | SLJ Review

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redstarSMITH, Monique Gray. Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation. 160p. further reading. glossary. index. photos. websites. Orca. Sept. 2017. Tr $29.95. ISBN 9781459815834.

Gr 4-7 –A sensitive and extensive insight into the experiences of Indigenous people in Canada. Smith traces the historical events, movements, and laws affecting people of the First Nations and connects this history to the impact still resonating generations later. The book largely addresses the laws that forcibly removed Indigenous children from their families and sent them to residential schools in an attempt to “civilize” them. Replete with primary sources, including photos and personal accounts from those who lived in the residential schools, Smith tackles difficult and complex conversations with straightforwardness and compassion. These topics include institutionalized racism, forced sterilization, and the destruction of Indigenous cultures. Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action. Smith wrote this book in the second person, which creates a uniquely personal experience wherein readers are immersed in the conversation. In addition, questions for reflection are peppered throughout, making the work very accessible for classroom use. Though Smith does not specifically address U.S. history, many of the laws and actions described in Canada have been and are mirrored in the United States. The thorough back matter also makes this volume great for research. For older readers, this work pairs nicely with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United StatesVERDICT Purchase this vibrant, must-have title to prompt critical thinking and open discussions.–Paige Rowse, Needham High School, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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