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New advocates join growing drive to donate Indigenous books to Ontario schools

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm (Himiona Grace)

More books by Indigenous authors have been pledged toward Ontario public schools by Anishinabek Nation, Portage & Main Press, and HarperCollins. Sessions on revising how Indigenous issues are taught in public schools were cancelled by the Ontario Ministry of Education on Friday, July 6 at 4 p.m. They had been scheduled to begin on Monday, July 9.

In response to the cancelled sessions, which had been recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, writers Cherie DimalineMonique Gray Smith, and Tracey Lindberg announced they would donate copies of their books to Ontario public school classrooms (notably, Gray Smith and Lindberg both live in B.C.). Inspired, writer and poet Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm asked her publisher, Portage & Main Press, for help.

The result: Portage & Main is donating 40 copies of Chelsea Vowel’s historical essay collection Indigenous Writes and 20 copies of Akiwenzie-Damm’s book of short stories The Stone Collection. The Winnipeg press is also offering free shipping on copies of Indigenous Writes to public schools. Akiwenzie-Damm has offered a reading to three classrooms.

Meanwhile, the advocacy group Anishinabek Nation is donating 10 copies of Joanne Robertson’s The Water Walker and 10 copies of Maurice Switzer’s We Are All Treaty People to Ontario schools. Lindberg’s publisher HarperCollins is supporting her commitment by donating 100 copies of her novel Birdie.

Of the response, Dimaline tweeted, “So proud to be among such powerful women and allies. Also, f@ck you Ford nation.”