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Seven Recent Books for National Aboriginal Day on Saturday, June 21

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 6:05pm

At Harbour Publishing and Nightwood Editions, First Nations authors and books have always been an important part of our publishing programs. Here are a few of our most recent aboriginal books that we would like to highlight for National Aboriginal Day:

Raven Brings the Light and Cloudwalker, by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd are the first two books in a series of Northwest Coast Legends that are beautifully illustrated by Vickers. The series gives new life to stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next for thousands of years. As Vickers says, "These stories belong to the people of the Northwest is a great joy for me to share them in new ways, so that many more people will discover and understand this important piece of our culture."

Roy Henry Vickers has also released a book spanning the past decade of his career. Storyteller is an oversized and substantial volume that contains 118 previously unpublished works by this iconic artist.

Since 2004, journalist Katherine Palmer Gordon has interviewed dozens of young First Nations people living in British Columbia—artists and community leaders, comedians and consultants, musicians and lawyers, people who are household names and those known only within their own communities. We Are Born with the Songs Inside Us collects sixteen candid stories gleaned from those interviews, stories of people who share an unshakeable belief in the importance of their cultural heritage to their well-being, to their success at what they do, and to their everyday lives.

Carrying on "Irregardless" is a handsomely illustrated paperback based on the first exhibition to focus on humour in Northwest Coast First Nations art. With commentary from Peter Morin & Martine J. Reid & Mike Robinson, it features the work of twenty-eight prominent Northwest Coast artists, including such varied approaches to humour as a rare prehistoric Coast Salish bowl carved from stone featuring a smiling face, a 1990s etching depicting Raven and the First Men Overlooking Wreck Beach (to catch a glimpse at all the nudists, of course!) and a pair of red and yellow cedar bark high heels titled Too Haida. Collected here are artworks that act as political weapons, bold challenges to stereotypes, and nods to the Trickster. They satirize, ridicule and play. And, above all, they make us laugh, and think, and laugh again.

X is an innovative collection from award-winning poet Shane Rhodes. He takes poetry from the comfortable land of the expected to places it has seldom been. Rhodes' writes poems to and with Canada's original documents of featuring a smiling face. In an article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, George Elliot Clarke says that “Rhodes dismisses the entire academic class of Canuck bards who look to Europe or Asia for their tutelage rather than face our “native” heritage of oppression…. I admire the radical sport of Rhodes’ lyrics and I admit my total support of his politics….Rhodes takes us down twisty, dangerous roads —of conscience and consciousness, forcing us to recognize the sins of our Confederation.”

Gregory Scofield's book Louis: The Heretic Poems raises attention about the more crucial historical events of Riel's lifetime in order to illuminate the history of western Canadian Metis people and their struggles toward recognition.