Monique Gray Smith offers young readers around the world an important new book in Speaking Our Truth, A Journey of Reconciliation...Smith tackles these issues in such a way that readers learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action."
This is an important book…The author does a fine job balancing the need to depict the children's terrible suffering with the fact that she is writing for young people…Even readers who are unfamiliar with Canadian history will be left with an understanding of the impact these events left on Indigenous people, as well as the importance of preserving all people's identity and cultural heritage."
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…Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action…Purchase this vibrant, must-have title to prompt critical thinking and open discussions."
Smith's narrative tone is inviting and friendly, often addressing the reader directly as she takes them from the earliest moments of colonial contact, through the Indian Act of 1894, traumatic residential school experiences…and the ways today's children can be allies and actors in the ongoing process of reconciliation and anti-oppression…Readers from south of the Canadian border might be inspired to start asking questions about their own history."
Smith thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada's residential schools...Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess."
Smith takes care to explain the manner in which she interviewed various people. This transparent glimpse into the writing process underscores her humble, gracious tone. The author supports all her assertions with documentation; the cumulative effect is unquestionably authentic and respectful...As a package, the book offers a perfect framework for readers actively exploring Indigenous history and current issues. Welcoming, honest, and down to earth, Speaking Our Truth is the tool many Canadians have been waiting for."
I learned a great deal from [Smith's] book, and I did re-examine much of what I thought I knew…This is a book that definitely has a place in middle and high school libraries, and it would be a useful supplementary resource for teachers of Canadian history and Indigenous studies. Highly Recommended."
You are holding a medicine bundle of hope and of witnessing the resiliency and the beauty of Indigenous and Metis people who have survived numerous attempts at genocide. I am grateful to Monique Gray Smith and Orca Book Publishers for creating a treasury of hard truths for everyone this book finds. We are witnesses together who can all do our part in the great healing ahead. I am in awe! Mahsi cho!"
Smith includes messages of resilience from community leaders and elders and devotes an entire chapter to interview with young people as they express how important it is for them to contribute to the healing of their communities. Indigenous podcaster, Ryan McMahon says, 'Reconciliation is asking myself who my Ancestors were the day before they went to residential school, then doing everything I can to return to that.' Smith's book is an effort that returns, offering diverse voices that invite the world into the reconciliation experience. Absolutely necessary."
The Victoria, BC, launch of Speaking Our Truth took place on September 30, 2017 at Na'tsa'maht, The Gathering Place, at Camosun College.
Monique Gray Smith speaks about her own journey of reconciliation at the 2017 City of Victoria—Local Government's Lunchtime lecture series (right)
"What Does Reconciliation Look Like?" Monique Gray Smith in conversation with Richard Van Camp at the launch of Speaking Our Truth in Edmonton, AB on November 23, 2017 and St. Albert, AB on November 24, 2017