welcome to the journey

In Speaking Our Truth, we are embarking on a journey of reconciliation. This isn’t a read-and-do-nothing kind of book. It is an active exploration of Canada’s collective history, our present and our future. It’s about how we grow as individuals, families, communities and as a country.

For some of you, this may be a time of significant change in your understanding of Canada’s history. It might be the first time you’ve thought about what reconciliation means and, more specifically, what it means to you and what your role in it is. Simply reading Speaking Our Truth is an act of reconciliation. So, good on you! I welcome you all to the journey.

In my Nihiyaw (Cree) language, we say tawâw, which loosely means “there’s always room.” For you, for me, for your friends, your family, your community. There’s always room. —Monique Gray Smith

About Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation

Canada's relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

Meet Monique

Book Details

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9781459815834  •  Nonfiction Ages 9–13
Hardcover $29.95 | Ebook $22.99

Reviews & Awards

Bolen Books Children's Book Prize | 2018 | Winner
Moonbeam Children's Book Award: Multicultural Non-Fiction—Chapter Book | 2017 | Winner
PNBA Tradeshow BuzzBooks | 2017 | Winner
Quill & Quire's Kidlit and YA Books of the Year | 2017 | Commended
Resource Links The Year's Best | 2017 | Commended
George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature | 2018 | Long-listed
CBC Best Canadian Young Adult and Children's Books | 2017 | Commended

"Weaving personal experience and Canadian society's struggle to come to terms with a sorrowful and the haunting past, Smith bravely negotiates this politically sensitive terrain…Written in frank and accessible language, this is a must-have book that will educate children and adults alike."
TD Canadian Children's Book Award Jury

"Smith has written an astoundingly honest and inclusive book that tackles [reconciliation] with compassion and clarity...Her respectful, authentic voice shines throughout the whole book and she allows room for multiple perspectives...This exemplary title, so obviously written from the heart, is a book that all young people should read. Indeed, it is a book that all Canadians need."
Canadian Children's Booknews

"A vibrant non-fiction resource…All of the information in this book is clearly organized and supported by meaningful graphics and pictures. The text is easy to follow and divided into manageable chunks with glossary definitions as needed. This book is easily one of the most current and thoughtful that I have read on the subject. Every school library should consider adding this book to their collection."
Resource Links

"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."
The International Educator

"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."
—Youth Services Book Reviews

"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 somver 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 discussion."
School Library Journal, starred review

"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. One survivor 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."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"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."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"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."
Quill & Quire, starred review

"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."

"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!"
—Richard Van Camp, award-winning author of We Sang You Home

"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."
CM Magazine