Compiled by Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov
|Name of the memoir||Brief Summary from Goodreads|
|Akhavan, P. (2017). In search of a better world. Canada: House of Anansi Press||A work of memoir, history, and a call to action, In Search of a Better World, the 2017 CBC Massey Lecture, is a powerful and essential work on the major human rights struggles of our times. In February of 2017, Amnesty International released their Annual Report for 2016 to 2017, concluding that the “us versus them” rhetoric increasingly employed by politicians is endangering human rights the world over. Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. He argues that deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy have given rise to major human rights abuses: from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá’ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the rise of contemporary phenomena such as the Islamic State. But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit and the reality of our inextricable interdependence to liberate us, whether from hateful ideologies that deny the humanity of others or an empty consumerist culture that worships greed and self-indulgence. A timely, essential, and passionate work of memoir and history, In Search of a Better World is a tour de force by an internationally renowned human rights lawyer.|
|Al Rebeeah, A.B., & Yeung, W. (2018). Homes: A refugee story. Broadview Press||In 2010, the al Rabeeah family left their home in Iraq in hope of a safer life. They moved to Homs, in Syria — just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtapositions of growing up in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy — soccer, cousins, video games, friends. Homes is the remarkable true story of how a young boy emerged from a war zone — and found safety in Canada — with a passion for sharing his story and telling the world what is truly happening in Syria. As told to her by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah, writer Winnie Yeung has crafted a heartbreaking, hopeful, and urgently necessary book that provides a window into understanding Syria|
|Alsaadi, N. (2014). The Bull of Heaven: The Story of a Boy Who Grew Up in a War Zone to Become a French Stock Market Millionaire Fighting for Shareholder Justice in North America. Createspace Independent Publishing Platform||In ancient times, the Bull of Heaven symbolized supernatural strength, ferocity and prosperity. In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, this mythical creature descended to earth to ravage the city of Uruk, before being slayed by King Gilgamesh. Unwilling to die, the great bull ascended to the stars to claim the constellation Taurus.|
The Bull of Heaven is an apt symbol for the autobiography of Nawar Alsaadi, who survived war-torn Iraq before earning the battle scars of business while in exile in France. This is also the story of how Alsaadi wound up in Canada, made millions in the stock market and then used that wealth to fight corporate greed.
This is what readers have been saying about “The Bull of Heaven”
“Nawar’s life account is an amazing story of tremendous personal success in the face of overwhelming challenges. His will to achieve has driven him to overcome what seem to be insurmountable odds. This book will open your eyes to experiences that are hard to imagine.” Mark Swedan, Swedan Investment Management.
“Fantastic read of a man who overcame hardship and fought the odds to become a self made millionaire using proven techniques by the investing greats of the past. Would recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a serious investor. Learning from other people’s investing mistakes is the most inexpensive yet invaluable way to maximize your returns.” Benjamin Alexander, private investor
|Al-Solaylee, K. (2013). Intolerable. A memoir of extremes. Harper Collins Canada||In the 1960s, Kamal Al-Solaylee’ s father was one of the wealthiest property owners in Aden, in the south of Yemen, but when the country shrugged off its colonial roots, his properties were confiscated, and the family was forced to leave. The family moved first to Beirut, which suddenly became one of the most dangerous places in the world, then Cairo. After a few peaceful years, even the safe haven of Cairo struggled under a new wave of Islamic extremism that culminated with the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. The family returned to Yemen, a country that was then culturally isolated from the rest of the world. As a gay man living in an intolerant country, Al-Solaylee escaped first to England and eventually to Canada, where he became a prominent journalist and academic. While he was enjoying the cultural and personal freedoms of life in the West, his once-liberal family slowly fell into the hard-line interpretations of Islam that were sweeping large parts of the Arab-Muslim world in the 1980s and 1990s. The differences between his life and theirs were brought into sharp relief by the 2011 revolution in Egypt and the civil war in Yemen. Intolerable is part memoir of an Arab family caught in the turmoil of Middle Eastern politics over six decades, part personal coming-out narrative and part cultural analysis. This is a story of the modern Middle East that we think we know so much about|
|Barnes, M. (2018). Be with: Letters to a caregiver. Biblioasis||Drawing on the author’s seven years of caring for his mother through Alzheimer’s, Be With: Letters to a Caregiver is what its title promises: four dispatches to an anonymous long-term caregiver. In brief passages that cast fresh light on what it means to live with dementia, Barnes shares trials, insights, solace—and, ultimately, inspiration. Meant to be a companion in waiting rooms, on bus routes, or while a loved one naps, Be With is a dippable source of clarity for harried readers who might only have time for a few lines or paragraphs. Mike Barnes writes with sensitivity and grace about fellowship, responsibility, and joyful relatedness—what it means to simply be with the people that we love.|
|6. Baruchel, J.(2018) Born into it. Harper Collins Canada||It’s no secret that Jay Baruchel is a die-hard fan of the Montreal Canadiens. He talks about the team at every opportunity, wears their gear proudly in interviews and on the street, appeared in a series of videos promoting the team, and was once named honorary captain by owner Geoff Molson and Habs tough guy Chris Nilan. As he has said publicly, “I was raised both Catholic and Jewish, but really more than anything just a Habs fan.” In Born Into It, Baruchel’s lifelong memories as a Canadiens’ fan explode on the page in a collection of hilarious, heartfelt and nostalgic stories that draw on his childhood experiences as a homer living in Montreal and the enemy living in the Maple Leaf stronghold of Oshawa, Ontario. Knuckles drawn, and with the rouge, bleu et blanc emblazoned on just about every piece of clothing he owns, Baruchel shares all in the same spirit with which he laid his soul bare in his hugely popular Goon movies. Born Into It is a memoir unlike any other, and a book not to be missed.|
|7. Barzanji, J. (2011). The Man in Blue Pyjamas: A Prison Memoir. University of Alberta.||From 1986-1989 poet and journalist Jalal Barzanji endured imprisonment and torture under Saddam Hussein’s regime because of his literary and journalistic achievements writing that openly explores themes of peace, democracy, and freedom. It was not until 1998, when he and his family took refuge in Canada, that he was able to consider speaking out fully on these topics. This literary memoir is the project Barzanji worked on while in exile, and it is the first translation of his work from Kurdish into English.|
|Bates, J.F.. (2010). The Year of Finding Memory: A Memoir.||In the tradition of The Concubine’s Children and Paper Shadows, a probing memoir from the author of the acclaimed novel Midnight at the Dragon Cafe.|
An elegant and surprising book about a Chinese family’s difficult arrival in Canada, and a daughter’s search to understand remarkable and terrible truths about her parents’ past lives.
Growing up in her father’s hand laundry in small town Ontario, Judy Fong Bates listened to stories of her parents’ past lives in China, a place far removed from their every-day life of poverty and misery. But in spite of the allure of these stories, Fong Bates longed to be a Canadian girl. Fifty years later she finally followed her curiosity back to her ancestral home in China for a reunion that spiralled into a series of unanticipated discoveries. Opening with a shock as moving as the one that powers The Glass Castle, The Year of Finding Memory explores a particular, yet universal, world of family secrets, love, loss, courage and shame. This is a memoir of a daughter’s emotional journey, and her painful acceptance of conflicting truths. In telling the story of her parents, Fong Bates is telling the story of how she came to know them, of finding memory.
|Baulcomb, A. (2016). Evenings & weekends: Five years in Hamilton music, 2006-2011. Wolsak and Wynn.||Andrew Baulcomb knows the Hamilton music scene intimately. From his early days as a journalist at the Silhouette, McMaster University’s student newspaper, he has blurred the line between being a reporter and a fan. Baulcomb both writes about and immerses himself in music. He’s been a fixture of Hamilton’s sweaty nightclubs and packed concert halls for years. Evenings & Weekends charts the path of the musicians, and Baulcomb himself, through the explosion of a vibrant new scene in one of the toughest and most uncompromising musical hubs in Canada. Featuring dozens of original interviews with bands and performers such as Arkells, Junior Boys, Monster Truck, Terra Lightfoot, Cursed and Young Rival, this is the true story of a city’s musical revolution|
|Begamudré, V. (2017). Extended Families: A Memoir of India. Coates Books||In Extended Families: A Memoir of India, award-winning author Ven Begamudré traces the history of both sides of his family, telling a story that is both timeless and universal.|
“My grandmother’s house has two gates. The iron from which they were wrought long ago turned to irony.” So begins the story of a South Indian family of high-caste Brahmins, men and women, who guarded a treasury, became electrical engineers, and built dams and power stations. Their stories, told through journal entries, poetry, fiction and photographs, are filtered through the lens of Ven, first as a boy and then as a young adult and finally, a man. At the heart of the work is the relationship between parent and child, Ven and his mother and father, as they continually fight and separate, first in India, and then, later, in Canada and the United States. The book culminates with the death of Ven’s mother in India and the immersion of her ashes.
Stories passed down from generation to generation are intertwined with those of the Hindu gods, beautifully illuminating the eternal bonds of family
|Brooks, J.H. (2017). The teen sex trade: My story. Formac Publishing||Jade Brooks grew up like any other kid — she played with friends, lovingly teased and was teased by her siblings, and excelled at school. It wasn’t until she was removed from her family at age 11 that she felt something was wrong. Growing up between two of Halifax’s predominantly black neighbourhoods, Jade was raised in communities plagued by social problems. Addictions, tangled personal relationships, social workers, and prison terms became everyday facts. When the first serious love of her life entered the picture at age 15, that relationship became the centre of everything. Following a path many have taken before, pushed along by her abusive boyfriend, Jade found herself in the sex trade. She learned to sell her body in the strip clubs and massage parlours of Toronto and Montreal in order to survive. Gifted with the ability to recall details of personalities, events, and conversations, Jade reveals a reality that will be unknown to many of her readers. She tells her story straight out, no holds barred, just as she remembers it. By doing so, she allows her readers to come to a far deeper appreciation of the circumstances that lead to the trafficking of young women in Canada today|
|Bydlowska, J. (2013). Drunk mom: A memoir. Random House.||Three years after giving up drink, Jowita Bydlowska found herself throwing back a glass of champagne like it was ginger ale. “It’s a special occasion,” she said to her boyfriend. And indeed it was. It was a party celebrating the birth of their first child. It also marked Jowita’s immediate, full-blown return to alcoholism and all that entails for a new mother who is at first determined to keep her problem a secret. Her trips to liquor stores are in-and-out missions. Perhaps she’s being paranoid, but she thinks people tend to notice the stroller. Walking home, she stays behind buildings, in alleyways, taking discreet sips from a bottle she’s stored in the diaper bag. She know she’s become a villain: a mother who drinks; a mother who endangers her child. She drinks to forget this. And then the trouble really starts. Jowita Bydlowska’s memoir of her relapse into addiction is an extraordinary achievement. The writing is raw and immediate. It places you in the moment–saddened, appalled, nerve-wracked, but never able to look away or stop turning the pages. With brutal honesty, Bydlowska takes us through the binges and blackouts, the self-deception and less successful attempts to deceive others, the humiliations and extraordinary risk-taking. She shines a light on the endless hunger of wanting just one more drink, and one more again, while dealing with motherhood, anxiety, depression–and rehab. Her struggle to regain her sobriety is recorded in the same unsentimental, unsparing, sometimes grimly comic way. But the happy outcome is evidenced by the existence of this brilliant book: she has lived to tell the tale.|
|Cablek, E. (2018). Holding onto hope. Author.||A troubled teen runaway at age 15, Emily Cablek sought love in all the wrong places. As you might expect, this soon led to becoming the victim of an abusive relationship with the only7 happy moments being the birth of her two children. Not one to run away from a challenge, Emily was soon a single parent determined to start over. Little did she know that her next challenge would be the abduction of her children. This is Emily’s story. A story of struggling with depression as she held on to hope while police searched for her children. It’s a story of holding on to hope as she worked hard to gain self-confidence and build the marketable skills needed for success. It’s a story of continual hope that her children would be found. Emily’s ability to hold on to hope enabled her to turn a mother’s worst nightmare ino pride and success.|
|Campbell, B. (2001). The door is open: Memoir of a soup kitchen volunteer. Anvil Press.||The Door Is Open is a compassionate, reflective, and informative memoir about three-and-a-half years spent volunteering at a skid row drop-in centre in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. In an area most renowned for its shocking social ills, and the notorious distinction of holding the country’s “very poorest forward sortation area of all 7,000 postal prefixes”. Bart Campbell dismantles our hard-held notions about poverty, the disenfranchised, substance abuse, and the nature of charity.The Door Is Open is one man’s story of a transformative journey into the complicated and complex world of poverty.|
|Campbell, M. (1983). Halfbreed. Goodread Biographies.||A new, fully restored edition of the essential Canadian classic. An unflinchingly honest memoir of her experience as a M�tis woman in Canada, Maria Campbell’s Halfbreed depicts the realities that she endured and, above all, overcame. Maria was born in Northern Saskatchewan, her father the grandson of a Scottish businessman and M�tis woman–a niece of Gabriel Dumont whose family fought alongside Riel and Dumont in the 1885 Rebellion; her mother the daughter of a Cree woman and French-American man. This extraordinary account, originally published in 1973, bravely explores the poverty, oppression, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy Maria endured throughout her childhood and into her early adult life, underscored by living in the margins of a country pervaded by hatred, discrimination, and mistrust. Laced with spare moments of love and joy, this is a memoir of family ties and finding an identity in a heritage that is neither wholly Indigenous or Anglo; of strength and resilience; of indominatable spirit. This edition of Halfbreed includes a new introduction written by Indigenous (M�tis) scholar Dr. Kim Anderson detailing the extraordinary work that Maria has been doing since its original publication 46 years ago, and an afterword by the author looking at what has changed, and also what has not, for Indigenous people in Canada today. Restored are the recently discovered missing pages from the original text of this groundbreaking and significant work.|
|Campbell, T. (2013). Orphan 32. Hope for the world productions.||Nearly two decades long, the Vietnam War was one of history’s devastating battles. More bombs were dropped than both World Wars put together. Lives were destroyed and families torn apart.|
In 1975, the last flight out of Vietnam rescued 57 war orphans before the Communists took over the south capital of Saigon. En route to Canada, Nguyen Ngoc Minh Thanh was aboard that flight. He was Orphan #32.
Thanh’s story began like many other Vietnamese orphans on Operation Babylift, but as he later discovered, his path had taken a much different direction from the rest.
Orphan 32 will take you on a remarkable journey of life, love and self-discovery.
|Canadien, A. (2012). From Lishamie. Theytus Books.||From Lishamie is an exploration of Albert Canadien’s early years. From growing up in a traditional Dene camp in the village of Lishamie located on a large island on the north side of the Mackenzie River to living in the French-speaking Fort Providence Residential School to singing with the Chieftones and opening for the Beach Boys and Jerry Lee Lewis in Madison Square Gardens in New York City, Albert takes us through his experiences|
|Cardinal, C. (2018). Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh (Raised somewhere else): A 60s scoop adoptee’s story of coming home. Fernwood Publishing.||During the 60s Scoop, over 20,000 Indigenous children in Canada were removed from their biological families, lands and culture and trafficked across provinces, borders and overseas to be raised in non-Indigenous households. Ohpikiihaakan-ohpihmeh delves into the personal and provocative narrative of Colleen Cardinal’s journey growing up in a non- Indigenous household as a 60s Scoop adoptee. Cardinal speaks frankly and intimately about instances of violence and abuse throughout her life, but this book is not a story of tragedy. It is a story of empowerment, reclamation and, ultimately, personal reconciliation. It is a form of Indigenous resistance through truth-telling, a story that informs the narrative on missing and murdered Indigenous women, colonial violence, racism and the Indigenous child welfare system.|
|Chariandy, D. (2018). I’ve been meaning to tell you. A letter to my daughter. Penguin.||In the tradition of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, acclaimed novelist David Chariandy’s latest is an intimate and profoundly beautiful meditation on the politics of race today. When a moment of quietly ignored bigotry prompted his three-year-old daughter to ask “what happened?” David Chariandy began wondering how to discuss with his children the politics of race. A decade later, in a newly heated era of both struggle and divisions, he writes a letter to his now thirteen-year-old daughter. David is the son of Black and South Asian migrants from Trinidad, and he draws upon his personal and ancestral past, including the legacies of slavery, indenture, and immigration, as well as the experiences of growing up a visible minority within the land of one’s birth. In sharing with his daughter his own story, he hopes to help cultivate within her a sense of identity and responsibility that balances the painful truths of the past and present with hopeful possibilities for the future.|
|Chopra, S. (2009). Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower. Kos Publishing.||Dr. Shiv Chopra’s name has become synonymous with food safety. To protect the integrity of our food, he has waged many battles against a succession of Canadian Prime Ministers and federal ministries of health. He refused to approve various harmful drugs to be used in meat and milk production. He defied governmental gag orders, spoke publicly to the media, and testified at many Senate and parliamentary committees. Time and again the courts supported Dr. Chopra and ruled against government attempts to silence him. Also, time and again the government allowed dangerous drugs, agricultural practices, and carcinogenic pesticides to enter the food supply. Here is the full account of how government corruption endangers the food supply and how Dr. Chopra and his colleagues continue to speak the truth. Most importantly, this book contains a blueprint for the establishment of food safety and security throughout the world|
|Chow, O. (2014).My Journey.Harper Collins||Olivia Chow–Member of Parliament, seasoned politician and widow of former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton–tells her story in this candid memoir|
What drives Olivia Chow? How did she emerge from a turbulent childhood to become an inspiring political force? What influences and events have shaped her life? And how is she continuing her quest after losing her partner in life and politics?
When Olivia was thirteen, her middle-class family moved from Hong Kong to Toronto, but the transition was difficult. Her mother went from having a maid to being a maid. Her father failed to carve out a working life for himself in Canada. Frustrated and bitter, he lashed out at Olivia’s mother, and violence darkened their lives. A rebellious yet playful child, Olivia discovered self-discipline and became an excellent student in Canada, studying fine art and philosophy at university. After graduating, Olivia worked for a time as a sculptor. Then, driven by a desire to achieve social change, the artist became an activist, and she launched her political career.
As a popular and much-admired school trustee and Toronto city councillor–the first Asian woman in that role–Olivia honed a grassroots approach and crafted progressive programs that enhanced the lives of others, especially children. Strong-willed, focused and passionate, Olivia got things done by bringing together people from all parts of the political spectrum.
In the mid-1980s, Olivia met Jack Layton. Their dynamic partnership, unprecedented in Canadian political life, made a powerful impact in Toronto and on the national stage. Together, they forged a strong vision for a better country and for enlightened political change. But when her beloved partner and political soulmate died in the summer of 2011, how did she find the strength to move forward? What might we learn from her inspiring story? Those answers are here, in My Journey
|Choy, W. (1999). Paper shadows. Viking Press.||From the author of the popular and widely acclaimed novel, The Jade Peony, comes this new autobiographical exploration of past and present, culture and selfhood, history and memory, immigration and family life–in other words, the modern-day collision of Eastern and Western experiences and worldviews. Three weeks before his 57th birthday, Choy discovered that he had been adopted. This astonishing revelation inspires the beautifully-wrought, sensitively told Paper Shadows, the story of a Chinatown past both lost and found. From his early life amid the ghosts of old Chinatown, to his discovery, years later, of deeply held family secrets that crossed the ocean from mainland China to Gold Mountain, this engrossing, multi-layered self-portrait is “a childhood memoir of crystalline clarity” (The Boston Globe) that will speak directly and arrestingly to all students of Chinese immigrant history.|
|Choy, W. (2009). Not Yet: A Memoir of Living and Almost Dying. Doubleday Canada.||Framed by Wayson Choy’s two brushes with death, Not Yet is an intimate and insightful study of one man’s reasons for living.|
In 2001, Wayson Choy suffered a combined asthma-heart attack. As he lay in his hospital bed, slipping in and out of consciousness, his days punctuated by the beeps of the machines that were keeping him alive, Choy heard the voices of his ancestors warning him that without a wife, he would one day die alone. And yet through his ordeal Choy was never alone; men and women, young and old, from all cultures and ethnicities, stayed by Choy’s side until he was well. When his heart failed him a second time, four years later, it was the strength of his bonds with these people, forged through countless acts of kindness, that pulled Choy back to his life.
Not Yet is a passionate, sensitive, and beautiful exploration of the importance of family, which in Choy’s case is constituted not through blood but through love. It is also a quiet manifesto for embracing life, not blind to our mortality, but knowing how lucky we are for each day that comes.
|Choyce, L. (2009). Seven ravens: Two summers in a life by the sea. Wolsak and Wynn||This collection is a philosophical and perceptive memoir of a time in author Lesley Choyce’s life when he’d been knocked down “several rungs on the wobbly ladder I was climbing.” On this journey we meet orphaned raccoons and lost arctic birds, revisit some of the history of Nova Scotia and are accompanied by the wisdom of ancient writers. This is a fascinating, meandering work, filled with gentle humour and unabashed joy at the beauties of the natural world|
|Chrétien, J. (2010). My years as prime minister. Vintage Canada.||My Years as Prime Minister is Jean Chrétien’s own story, told with insight and humour, of his ten years at 24 Sussex Drive as Canada’s twentieth prime minister. By the time he left office, Jean Chrétien had been in politics for forty years – and his experience is evident on every page of his important, engaging memoir. Chrétien loves to tell a good tale – and he does so here in the same honest, plain-spoken style of Straight from the Heart, his earlier bestselling account of his years as a Cabinet minister. He gives us a self-portrait of a working prime minister – the passionate Canadian renowned for finishing every speech with Vive le Canada! Chrétien knows how government works, and his political instincts are sharp. Through the decade 1993 to 2003 we watch as he wins three majority elections as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Finding the country in a dreadful state, dangerously in debt and bitterly divided, he describes how his government wiped out the deficit in just four years, helped to defeat the separatists in the cliffhanger Quebec referendum, passed the Clarity Act, and set out to fulfill the economic and social promises his party made in its famous Red Books. He reveals how and why he kept the country out of the war in Iraq – a defining moment for many Canadians; led Team Canada on whirlwind trade missions around the world; and participated in a host of major international summits. Along with his astute comments on politics and government, he gives candid portraits of a broad cast of characters. Over a beer, Tony Blair confides his hesitation about taking Britain into the Iraq War; in the corridors of the United Nations, Bill Clinton offers to speak to Quebecers on behalf of Canadian unity; while at home, Chrétien reveals the events leading up to the departure of his finance minister, Paul Martin. He recounts the dramatic night in which his quick-thinking wife, Aline, saved him from an assassination attempt at 24 Sussex Drive; and, with lively humour, he describes how he and Clinton successfully escaped from their own bodyguards – to the consternation of all. Even in the highest office in the land, Jean Chrétien never lost his connection with ordinary Canadians. He is as warm and funny in his recollections as in person, at once combative and cool-headed, a man full of vitality and charm. Above all, from start to finish, his love for his country and his passion to keep it united run clear and deep.|
|Chrétien, J. (2018). My stories, my times. Penguin.||Jean Chrétien has some stories to tell, one of the most popular Canadian prime ministers in recent history. Recounted with warmth, insight and his distinctive sense of humor, these brief and candid essays feature many behind-the-scenes stories from a long, distinguished and colorful career. The book also features two sixteen-page color photo inserts. October 2018 marks twenty-five years since Jean Chretien took the helm as prime minister. In this collection of short essays, he has picked up his pen to reminisce about his long years in the public eye, and the many luminaries he puts forth and worked with. Readers will learn how to learn to communicate with one another in the long run, in ways both profound and subtle: from forging long-lasting relationships with foreign countries. He recalls a memorable trip with the royal family to the Northwest Territories in 1970, and how Ross Perot tried to influence his views in 1992. Of course, many familiar names figure in these stories, including George W. Bush, Boris Yeltsin , Tony Blair, Jacques Chirac, Pierre Trudeau, and Bill and Hillary Clinton. There are reflections on the many different posts over Chretien’s career, including becoming Canada’s first-ever French-speaking finance minister. He pays tribute to old friends and colleagues, where the values of honor and dedication to public service transcend political views. He reserves his greatest admiration for his wife of more than sixty years, Aline, whom he calls his Rock of Gibraltar. These stories offer a unique perspective: we are at the Prime Minister’s side of the world. We learn how to get to grips with the history of the history of the history of history and the history of nightlife. “Night of the Long Knives.” (Having Despite Maurice Duplessis about the food at his seminary. Survival in Politics requires stamina, creativity and toughness, the qualities of the self-described “little guy from Shawinigan” never lost. In these days of “alternative facts” and politics-by-Tweet, these stories are a necessary antidote, told by a leader who always held fast.|
|Chretien, J., & Roberts, H. (1985). Straight from the Heart (Vol. 72). Key Porter Books.||Jean Chretien won the hearts of Canadians with his unabashed love of his country, his unwavering commitment to federalism, and his abiding faith in the people.?? In this reissue of his remarkable best-selling memoir, Chr?tien recalls in colourful and fascinating detail his beginnings as a populist lawyer from Shawinigan, his rise as an MP and cabinet minister, and, ultimately, his election as Prime Minister of Canada.??Straight from the Heart is an entertaining, insightful first-person account of Chr?tien`s early days organizing for the Liberals in rural Quebec, how a young French-speaking MP learned the ropes in an English-dominated capital, his pride at becoming Canada?s first French-Canadian Prime Minister of Finance, and the dramatic battles he fought side by side with Pierre Trudeau to win the 1980 Quebec referendum and patriate the Constitution with the Charter of Rights. It includes behind-the-scenes descriptions of his two leadership bids and the election campaign that led to a majority Liberal government in 1993.?? This classic memoir is essential reading for anyone seeking an understanding of one of the most successful, skillful, and popular political leaders of our times (from Google Books)|
|Clark, J. (2014). How we lead: Canada in a century of change. Vintage Canada.||A passionate argument for Canada’s reassertion of its place on the world stage, from a former prime minister and one of Canada’s most respected political figures. In the world that is taking shape, the unique combination of Canada’s success at home as a diverse society and its reputation internationally as a sympathetic and respected partner consititute national assets that are at least as valuable as its natural resource wealth. As the world becomes more competitive and complex, and the chances of deadly conflict grow, the example and the initiative of Canada can become more important than they have ever been. That depends on its people: assets have no value if Canadians don’t recognize or use them, or worse, if they waste them. A more effective Canada is not only a benefit to itself, but to its friends and neighbours. And in this compelling examination of what it as a nation has been, what it has become and what it can yet be to the world, Joe Clark takes the reader beyond formal foreign policy and looks at the contributions and leadership offered by Canada’s most successful individuals and organizations who are already putting these uniquely Canadian assets to work internationally.|
|Clark, R. (2017).Down inside: Thirty years in Canada’s prison service. Goose Lane Editions||A compelling personal memoir and a scathing indictment of bureaucratic indifference and agenda-driven government policies. In his thirty years in the Canadian prison system, Robert Clark rose from student volunteer to deputy warden. He worked with some of Canada’s most dangerous and notorious prisoners, including Paul Bernardo and Tyrone Conn. He dealt with escapes, lockdowns, prisoner murders, prisoner suicides, and a riot. But he also arranged ice-hockey games in a maximum-security institution, sat in a darkened gym watching movies with three hundred inmates, took parolees sightseeing, and consoled victims of violent crimes. He has managed cellblocks, been a parole officer, and investigated staff corruption. Clark takes readers down inside a range of prisons, from the minimum-security Pittsburgh Institution to the Kingston Regional Treatment Centre for mentally ill prisoners and the notorious (and now closed) maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary. In Down Inside, he challenges head-on the popular belief that a “tough-on-crime” approach makes prisons and communities safer, arguing instead for humane treatment and rehabilitation. Wading into the controversy about long-term solitary confinement, Clark draws from his own experience managing solitary-confinement units to continue the discussion begun by the headline-making Ashley Smith case and to join the chorus of voices calling for an end to the abuse of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons.|
|Clarke, A. (2017). Membering. Dundurn Press.||Austin Clarke is one of Canada’s most distinguished and celebrated novelists and short-story writers. His works often centre around the immigrant experience in Canada, of which he writes with humour and compassion, happiness and sorrow. In ‘Membering, Clarke shares his own experiences growing up in Barbados and moving to Toronto to attend university in 1955 before becoming a journalist. With vivid realism he describes Harlem of the ’60s, meeting and interviewing Malcolm X, and writers Chinua Achebe and LeRoi Jones. Clarke went on to become a pioneering instructor of Afro-American Literature at Yale University and inspired a new generation of African-American writers. With a writing career that spans more than fifty years, Clarke has been called “Canada’s first multicultural writer” and has been awarded the Giller Prize (The Polished Hoe), the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, the Toronto Book Award, and the Martin Luther King Junior Award for Excellence in Writing.|
|Clarkson, A. (2007). Heart Matters. Penguin Canada.||Adrienne Clarkson’s beginnings—her family escaped from Japanese-occupied Hong Kong in 1942—were a harbinger of the drama that would echo through her life. After growing up in Ottawa, and studying in Toronto and France, she launched a successful CBC television career that lasted nearly three decades. Then in 1999, Clarkson returned to Ottawa to become Canada’s twenty-sixth Governor General—an office she transformed through her commitment, style, and compassion. Travelling thousands of kilometres to small communities in Canada and abroad, Clarkson reached out to Canadians everywhere, particularly to the North’s Aboriginal population. She also met with international figures from Queen Elizabeth to Nelson Mandela and Vladimir Putin, and hosted foreign dignitaries—including one whose entourage had to be dissuaded from sporting loaded pistols inside Rideau Hall.|
Clarkson forged a unique bond with the military in her position as Commander in Chief and travelled to Kosovo, Bosnia, the Arabian Gulf, and twice to Afghanistan to visit Canadian troops. Her determination to invest meaning in all her official actions created controversy at times, whether it was refashioning Rideau Hall into a real home and showcasing it for the public, or including writers and artists on state visits. Clarkson reflects on some of the behind-the-scenes machinations with a close-up view of how politics sometimes works.
Heart Matters is more than a public life remembered. It chronicles an astonishing journey through triumph and turmoil. The always poised Clarkson reveals that life was not as smooth as it appeared, and with remarkable candour and poignancy, she reflects on the heartaches of her earlier years—her beautiful but troubled mother, the death of an infant, a divorce, and the estrangement from her two daughters and their later reunion.
Insightful and inspiring, Heart Matters is an extraordinary work by an extraordinary Canadian.
|Davies, L. (2019). Outside in: A political memoir. Between the lines.||For more than four decades, Libby Davies has worked steadfastly for social justice. She became a community organizer in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside at the age of nineteen, later became active in Vancouver municipal politics, and eventually worked her way to become Deputy Leader of the federal New Democratic Party.|
Davies lays bare the challenges she has faced with candid reflections on her experience as both an insider in the established political world and an outsider working in the activist community on controversial issues such as homelessness, sex workers’ rights, and ending drug prohibition. Part memoir, part analysis of the political process, Davies’s forty years of work at the intersection of the political process and social movements is both inspirational and comforting for anyone interested in getting involved in the politics and activism today
|Deckert, E. (2015). 10 Days in December: where dreams meet reality. Friesen Press||“I want to get married,go out west, build a log cabin,raise a bunch of kids,volunteer in my community, and then write a book about it.”|
In 1978, during a golden age of middle-class prosperity, newly wed Kevin and Eleanor, like other young people at the time, felt the irresistible pull of the Back-to-the-Land movement and left behind everything they knew and loved to live far from the city and off the grid. As they searched western Canada for a place to settle, abandoned homesteads warned that their dream would be hard won.
10 Days in December journals Kevin and Eleanor’s adventures living for the first ten days in their wilderness cabin facing the demands of winter, where harsh reality and self-denial test their love and commitment.
Along the way practical Kevin and idealistic Eleanor will learn if they have what it takes to live in the mountains and with each other.
Eleanor shares her true ‘coming-of-age’ story exploring what resources from her sheltered childhood could help her endure the isolation, cold and darkness of this northern river valley
|Dellaire, R. (2016). Waiting for first light. My ongoing battle with PTSD. Random House||At the heart of Waiting for First Light is a no-holds-barred self-portrait of a top political and military figure whose nights are invaded by despair, but who at first light faces the day with the renewed desire to make a difference in the world. Rom�o Dallaire, traumatized by witnessing genocide on an imponderable scale in Rwanda, reflects in these pages on the nature of PTSD and the impact of that deep wound on his life since 1994, and on how he motivates himself and others to humanitarian work despite his constant struggle. Though he had been a leader in peace and in war at all levels up to deputy commander of the Canadian Army, his PTSD led to his medical dismissal from the Canadian Forces in April 2000, a blow that almost killed him. But he crawled out of the hole he fell into after he had to take off the uniform, and he has been inspiring people to give their all to multiple missions ever since, from ending genocide to eradicating the use of child soldiers to revolutionizing officer training so that our soldiers can better deal with the muddy reality of modern conflict zones and to revolutionizing our thinking about the changing nature of conflict itself.|
|Dobson, K. (2011). With a closed fist: Growing up in Canada’s toughest neighborhood. Vehicule Press||Offering a glimpse into the culture of extreme poverty, this memoir is an insider’s view into a neighborhood then described as the toughest in Canada. Point St. Charles is an industrial slum in Montreal which is now in the process of gentrification, but during Kathy Dobson’s childhood, people moved for one of two reasons: their apartment was on fire or the rent was due. When student social workers and medical students from McGill University invaded the Point in the 1970s, Kathy and her five sisters witnessed their mother transform from a defeated welfare recipient to an angry, confrontational community organizer who joined in the fight against a city that turned a blind eye on some of its most vulnerable citizens. When her mother won the right for Kathy and her two older sisters to attend schools in one of Montreal’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Kathy was thrown into a foreign world with a completely different set of rules that she didn’t know—leading to disastrous results. This compelling, coming-of-age story documents a time of great social change in Montreal and reveals the workings of an educational system trying to deal with disadvantaged children.|
|Ellis, J.K. (2018).The measure of my powers: A memoir of food, misery, and Paris. Penguin||A story about one woman’s search for self-love, experienced through food and travel. On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis’s life was the one that every woman–herself included–wanted: she was in her late twenties and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer, a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy, and loved, each morning she’d wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded each moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her, and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers: unfamiliar, childless, and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light: the kitchen. Inspired by the great 20th century female food writer M.F.K. Fisher’s works, it was the place Jackie escaped into herself, finding life, peace, comfort, and acceptance. This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey–from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again–to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon, and, ultimately, finds a path to joy. Told with insight and intimacy, and radiating with warmth and humour, The Measure of My Powers is an unforgettable experience of the senses.|
|Enger, Y. (2005). Playing left wing from rink rat to student radical. Fernwood Publishing.||This story of how a former junior hockey player became a media spokesperson for radical university students in Canada gives an inside look at the thinking, motivation, and politics of the latest generation of student activists. Answering questions such as What makes a student radical? and Can students in the 21st century play a part in changing the world?, this autobiography also explains the reasons for and importance of fostering student activism.|
|Fishman, L. (2010). Repairing rainbows: A true story of family, tragedy and choices. Author.||At thirteen years old, Lynda’s life comes to a disastrous halt when her mother and two younger sisters are killed in a plane crash. Her father, overcome by despair, simply continues to exist, in a state devoid of hope. After burying a wife and two young children at the age of 44, the overwhelming responsibility of raising a daughter alone completely immobilizes him. Teetering on that tender brink between childhood and adolescence, Lynda faces the responsibility of a father in a complete state of shock, a house to take care of and hundreds of decisions about how to proceed with their shattered lives. In Repairing Rainbows she candidly describes the agonizing memories, deafening silence and endless hardships that are the fallout of incredible loss. As we follow her through marriage, motherhood and her own spiritual journey, Lynda reveals her complex feelings of hope, anger, pity and determination. Most importantly, she learns the crucial difference between “truly living” and the existence that is so often mistaken for being alive. A true story, written by a woman whose normal and abundant life hides a terrible past, Repairing Rainbows is loaded with important lessons to help others overcome struggles and obstacles, and fulfill their lives. It is a powerful, captivating, riveting and easy-to-read story that will undoubtedly touch the hearts of its readers.|
|FitzGerald, J (2018). Dreaming Sally: A true story of first love, sudden death and long shadows. Random House||Prize-winning author James FitzGerald explores how the death of an eighteen-year-old girl in the summer of 1968 forever changed his life and the life of the other man who loved her. Dreaming Sally is a deeply moving exploration of the weight of a life cut short. Sally will die in Europe this summer. George Orr dreamed that his girlfriend, Sally Wodehouse, would die on the trip she wanted to take, and he begged her not to go. But Sally did not take him seriously–how could she? She left for Europe in July 1968 with twenty-five other private-school kids, on “The Odyssey,” a Sixties version of the Grand Tour. In August 1968, only hours after becoming engaged to George via telegram, she died as he had dreamed she would, in a freak accident. Sally was George’s first love, but she was also James FitzGerald’s. James first met Sally at a family cottage; he was drawn to her energy and warmth, a stunning contrast to the chilly emotional life of his own family. At seventeen, not exactly a hit with the girls, James was delighted when he realized that he’d be spending the summer with his old friend. And soon, even though he knew that Sally had a serious boyfriend back home, they became inseparable, touring the glories of Western culture by day, dancing and drinking the nights away–giddily unshackled from the expectations and requirements of their class and upbringing. To George and James, both sons of parents who knew how to make demands of their children but not how to love them, Sally represented all the optimism and promised freedom of the ’60s. Her death has haunted both men for fifty years–arresting their development, miring them in grief and unreasoning guilt. Dreaming Sally is a profound and evocative exploration of the long shadow left by an eighteen-year-old girl, an uncanny story of first love, sudden death and the complexity of trauma and mourning.|
|Fleury, T., & Day, K. M. (2009). Playing with fire. Triumph Books.||In Playing With Fire, Theo Fleury takes us behind the bench during his glorious days as an NHL player, and talks about growing up devastatingly poor and in chaos at home. Dark personal issues began to surface, and drinking, drugs, gambling, and girls ultimately derailed a career that had him destined for the Hall of Fame. Fleury shares all in this raw, captivating, and honest look at the previously untold story of one the game’s greatest heroes.|
|Fontaine, T. (2010). Broken circle: The dark legacy of Indian residential schools: A memoir. Heritage House Publishing Co.||Theodore (Ted) Fontaine lost his family and freedom just after his seventh birthday, when his parents were forced to leave him at an Indian residential school by order of the Roman Catholic Church and the Government of Canada. Twelve years later, he left school frozen at the emotional age of seven. He was confused, angry and conflicted, on a path of self-destruction. At age 29, he emerged from this blackness. By age 32, he had graduated from the Civil Engineering Program at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and begun a journey of self-exploration and healing. In this powerful and poignant memoir, Ted examines the impact of his psychological, emotional and sexual abuse, the loss of his language and culture, and, most important, the loss of his family and community. He goes beyond details of the abuses of Native children to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of First Nations children suffer from this dark chapter in history. Told as remembrances described with insights that have evolved through his healing, his story resonates with his resolve to help himself and other residential school survivors and to share his enduring belief that one can pick up the shattered pieces and use them for good.|
|Freeman, M. A. (2015). Life among the Qallunaat. Univ. of Manitoba Press.||Life Among the Qallunaat is the story of Mini Aodla Freeman’s experiences growing up in the Inuit communities of James Bay and her journey in the 1950s from her home to the strange land and stranger customs of the Qallunaat, those living south of the Arctic. Her extraordinary story, sometimes humorous and sometimes heartbreaking, illustrates an Inuit woman’s movement between worlds and ways of understanding. It also provides a clear-eyed record of the changes that swept through Inuit communities in the 1940s and 1950s. Mini Aodla Freeman was born in 1936 on Cape Hope Island in James Bay. At the age of sixteen, she began nurse’s training at Ste. Therese School in Fort George, Ontario, and in 1957 she moved to Ottawa to work as a translator for the then Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources. Her memoir, Life Among the Qallunaat, was published in 1978 and has been translated into French, German, and Greenlandic. This reissue of Mini Aodla Freeman’s path-breaking work includes new material, an interview with the author, and an afterword by Keavy Martin and Julie Rak.|
|Garebian, K. (2000). Pain: Journeys around my parents. Oakville, Ont.: Mosaic Press.|
|Gaston, B.(2018). Just let me look at you: On fatherhood. Penguin Random House.||From Giller-nominated, award-winning Bill Gaston, a tender, wry, and unforgettable memoir about alcohol, fishing, and all the things fathers and sons won’t say to each other Sons clash with fathers, sons find reasons to rebel. And, fairly or unfairly, sons judge fathers when they take to drinking. But Bill Gaston and his father could always fish together. When they were shoulder-to-shoulder, joined in rapt fascination with the world under their hull, they had what all fathers and sons wish for. Even if it was temporary, even if much of it would be forgotten along with the empties. Returning to the past in his old fishing boat, revisiting the remote marina where they lived on board and learned to mooch for salmon, Bill unravels his father’s relationship with hisfather, it too a story marked by heavy drinking, though one that took a much darker turn. Learning family secrets his father took to the grave, Gaston comes to understand his own story anew, realizing that the man his younger self had been so eager to judge was in fact someone both nobler and more vulnerable than he had guessed. Warm, insightful, and often funny, Just Let Me Look at Youcaptures every father’s inexpressible tenderness, and the ways in which the words for love often come too late for all of us.|
|Gatchalian, C. E. (2019). Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man. arsenal pulp press.||According to Didier Eribon, melancholy is where it all starts and where it also ends: the lifelong process of mourning that each homosexual experiences, and through which they construct their own identity. In this beguiling book, an introverted, anxious, ambitious, artistically gifted queer Filipino-Canadian boy finds solace, inspiration, and a “syllabus for living” in art–works of literature and music, from the children’s literary classic Anne of Green Gables to the music of Maria Callas. But their contribution to his intellectual, emotional, and spiritual edification belies the fact that they were largely heteronormative and white, which had the effect of invisibilizing him as a queer person of color.|
Part memoir, part cultural commentary, and a hybrid of besotted aesthetic appreciation and unsparing critique, Double Melancholy is by turns a passionate love letter to art and an embattled examination of its oppressive complicity with the society that produces it, and the depths to which art both enriches and colonizes us.
|Gill, R. (2011). On the outside looking Indian: How my second childhood changed my life. McClelland & Stewart.||Rupinder Gill was raised under the strict rules of her parents’ Indian upbringing. While her friends were practicing their pliés, having slumber parties, and spending their summers at camp, Rupinder was cleaning, babysitting her siblings, and watching hours on end of American television. But at age 30, Rupinder realized how much she regretted her lack of childhood adventure. Stepping away from an orderly life of tradition, Rupinder set put to finally experience the things she missed out on. From learning to swim and taking dance lessons, to going to Disney World, her growing to-do list soon became the ultimate trip down non-memory lane. What began as a desire to experience all that had been denied to her leads to a discovery of what it means to be happy, and the important lessons that are learned when we are at play.|
|Handy, J. (2018). The secret tribe: A memoir of resilience. Friesen Press||The Secret Tribe is a powerful, insightful memoir about one woman’s survival from childhood physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Janet A. Handy offers a new perspective on resilience; in the moment of abuse the critical question of “How do I stay alive?” is at the core of the fear response. This book is her effort to explore both the moment itself and how the meaning survivors make of this moment evolves into resilience.|
The Secret Tribe uses stories from Handy’s own childhood woven together with her unique perspective from years of working with victims and survivors. She discusses denial and its various manifestations, forgiveness, belief in something greater than ourselves, the transformation of silence about abuse into having a voice, and overcoming the tendency to self-annihilation. Written primarily for other survivors, this memoir will also be a useful tool for the practitioners who work with them and families and friends who want to understand how their loved ones might think and feel. Handy is a former Anglican priest, an educator who has taught child, adolescent and family development at Ryerson University Toronto and has worked with survivors of sexual abuse for over thirty years
|Hansen, A.(2018).Taking the rap: Women doing time for society’s crime. Between the Line||When Ann Hansen was arrested in 1983 along with the four other members of the radical anarchist group known as the Squamish Five, her long-time commitment to prison abolition suddenly became much more personal. Now, she could see firsthand the brutal effects of imprisonment on real women’s lives. During more than thirty years in prison and on parole, the bonds and experiences Hansen shared with other imprisoned women only strengthened her resolve to fight the prison industrial complex. In Taking the Rap, she shares gripping stories of women caught in a system that treats them as disposable-poor women, racialized women, and Indigenous women, whose stories are both heartbreaking and enraging. Often serving time for minor offences due to mental health issues, abuse, and poverty, women prisoners are offered up as scapegoats by a society keen to find someone to punish for the problems we all have created.|
|Hansen, R., & Taylor, J. (2011). Rick Hansen: Man in Motion. D & M Publishers.||The inspiring story — with over 65,000 copies sold — of one of Canada’s best-loved heroes now with a new introduction and updated design. In 1973, Rick Hansen was a carefree teenager hitchhiking home from a fishing trip, a kid who lived and breathed sports. But after the truck he was riding in went out of control and crashed, Hansen was left a paraplegic. For some people that could have been the end. For Rick Hansen it was the beginning of a story that is at once sad and funny, heartbreaking and inspirational.|
|Harper, S. J. (2018). Right here, right now: Politics and leadership in the age of disruption. Signal.||The world is in flux. Disruptive technologies, ideas, and politicians are challenging business models, norms, and political conventions everywhere. How we, as leaders in business and politics, choose to respond matters greatly. Some voices refuse to concede the need for any change, while others advocate for radical realignment. But neither of these positions can sustainably address the legitimate concerns of disaffected citizens. Right Here, Right Now sets out a forward-looking vision by analyzing how economic, social, and public policy trends have affected our economies, communities, and governments. Mr. Harper contends that Donald Trump’s surprise election victory and governing agenda clearly signal that political, economic, and social institutions must be more responsive to legitimate concerns about market policies, trade, globalization, and immigration. Urging readers to look past questions of style and gravitas, Mr. Harper thoughtfully examines the substantive underpinnings of how and why Donald Trump was able to succeed Barack Obama as President of the United States, and how these forces are manifesting themselves in several other western democracies. Analyzing international trade, market regulation, immigration, technology, and the role of government in the digital economy, Harper lays out the case for pragmatic conservative leadership as a proven solution to the uncertainty and risk that businesses and governments face today.|
|Haskins, D. (2013). The house is condemned. Wolsak and Wynn.||This House is Condemned is equal parts elegy, portraiture and exploration of a life lived at the edge of Lake Ontario. In spare, moving prose David Haskins writes essays of immigrating to Canada and building his life as a teacher and writer. Currents of poetry run through the book, which is as touched with humor as it is with sadness. He writes of indestructible garden forks, rafts that bear him away unexpectedly and of the love that ebbs and flows throughout a life. This House is Condemned is a rich collection that picks the reader up and places them beside the author, walking along the shores of the lake.|
|Hay, E. (2018). All things consoled: A daughter’s memoir. McClelland & Stewart||Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada’s most beloved novelists has written a poignant, complex, and hugely resonant memoir about the shift she experienced between being her parents’ daughter to their guardian and caregiver. As the daughter takes charge, and the writer takes notes, her mother and father are like two legendary icebergs floating south. They melt into the ocean of partial, painful, inconsistent, and funny stories that a family makes over time. Hay’s eloquent memoir distills these stories into basic truths about parents and children and their efforts of understanding. With her uncommon sharpness and wit, Elizabeth Hay offers her insights into the peculiarities of her family’s dynamics–her parents’ marriage, sibling rivalries, miscommunications that spur decades of resentment all matched by true and genuine love and devotion. Her parents are each startling characters in their own right–her mother is a true skinflint who would rather serve up wormy soup (twice) than throw away an ancient packet of “perfectly good” mix; her father is a proud and well-mannered man with a temper that can be explosive. All Things Consoled is a startlingly beautiful memoir that addresses the exquisite agony of family, the unstoppable force of dementia, and the inevitability of aging.|
|Hill, L. (2010). Black berry, sweet juice: On being black and white in Canada. HarperCollins Canada.||Lawrence Hill’s remarkable novel, Any Known Blood, amulti-generational story about a Canadian man of mixed race, was met withcritical acclaim and it marked the emergence of a powerful new voice in Canadianwriting. Now Hill, himself a child of a black father and white mother, brings usBLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICE: On Being Black and White in Canada, aprovocative and unprecedented look at a timely and engrossing topic. In BLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICE, Hill movingly reveals his struggleto understand his own personal and racial identity. Raised by human rightsactivist parents in a predominantly white Ontario suburb, he is imbued withlingering memories and offers a unique perspective. In a satirical yet serioustone, Hill describes the ambiguity involved in searching for his identity – anespecially complex and difficult journey in a country that prefers to see him asneither black nor white. Interspersed with slices of his personal experiences, fascinating familyhistory and the experiences of thirty-six other Canadians of mixed raceinterviewed for this book, BLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICE also examinescontemporary racial issues in Canadian society. Hill explores the terms used todescribe children of mixed race, the unrelenting hostility towards mix-race couples and the real meaning of the black Canadianexperience. It arrives at a critical time when, in the highly publicized andcontroversial case of Elijah Van de Perre, the son of a white mother and blackfather in British Columbia, the Supreme Court of Canada has just granted custodyto Elijah’s mother, Kimberly Van de Perre. A reflective, sensitive and often humourous book, BLACK BERRY, SWEET JUICEis a thought provoking discourse on the current status of race relations inCanada and it’s a fascinating and important read for us all.|
|Holmes, M. (2017). Working for the common good. Canadian women politicians. Fernwood Publishing.||In Working for the Common Good, Madelyn Holmes details the political policy work of eight social democratic Canadian women and highlights their largely unrecognized struggles and accomplishments. Throughout their political careers, Agnes Macphail, Therese Casgrain, Grace MacInnis, Pauline Jewett, Margaret Mitchell, Lynn McDonald, Audrey McLaughlin and Alexa McDonough worked towards curing society’s economic and social ills. They raised their voices for world peace from the 1920s to the 2000s. They were incensed about economic inequality in Canadian society and advocated for policies to reduce poverty. They fought for social justice for Indigenous peoples, Japanese-Canadians, Chinese-Canadians, Muslim-Canadians and the imprisoned. The profiles in this book illustrate the many ways these politicians embraced the cause of gender equality and served as role models for generations of Canadian women.|
|Horn, M. (1997). Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an invisible immigrant. University of Toronto Press.||Thousands of Western European immigrants streamed into Canada after the Second World War, seeking refuge from the economic devastation of their homelands. Many sought to assimilate as quickly as possible into the Canadian mainstream. Michiel Horn, in Becoming Canadian: Memoirs of an Invisible Immigrant, shares his reflections on the process of social integration. As a Dutch immigrant to British Columbia in 1952, Horn had to make sense of the cultural demands of two worlds. Over forty years later, a professor of Canadian history, he recounts his own personal history, relating it to broader issues. ‘I have tried.’ he writes, ‘to describe the process of assimilation as I experienced it, and to make sense of the ambivalence immigrants feel towards their adopted country and their country of origin, the sense that they belong to both yet fully to neither.’ Horn’s autobiography explores the story of his Dutch middle-class family and seeks to answer what it means to replace one nationality with another. He begins with his years in Holland during the Second World War, discusses his family’s immigration to Canada, and explains how the family built a life for itself in Victoria. Several of the themes that run throughout the narrative relate to the often uneasy transfer of Dutch values to a Canadian context, the influence that Holland still has on Horn’s life, and his own thoughts on multiculturalism as public policy in Canada. Becoming Canadian is a timely memoir, and Horn’s consideration of the process of assimilation, and of his own position as an ‘invisible immigrant,’ is topical and revealing.|
|Hudson, E. (2004). Snow bodies: One woman’s life on the streets. Newest Press.||From her own harrowing experience Hudson graphically renders the deadly underbelly of society and her descent into the abyss of drug addiction and prostitution. In direct prose, without fear, shame or explanation, and without imposing hindsight or societal values onto her narrative, Hudson takes the reader with her on a terrifying journey to the bottom. Snow Bodies is a heartbreaking reminder of the horrors occurring daily on Canada’s city streets.|
|Humphreys, H. (2013). Nocturne: On the life and death of my brother. Harper Collins.||Helen Humphreys’ younger brother was gone before she could come to terms with the fact that he had terminal cancer. Diagnosed with stage 4B pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five, he died four months later, leaving behind a grieving family. Martin was an extraordinary pianist who debuted at the Royal Festival Hall in London at the age of twenty, later becoming a piano teacher and senior examiner at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The two siblings, though often living far apart, were bonded on many levels. Now Humphreys has written a deeply felt, haunting memoir both about and for her brother. Speaking directly to him, she lays bare their secrets, their disagreements, their early childhood together, their intense though unspoken love for each other. A memoir of grief, an honest self-examination in the face of profound pain, this poetic, candid and intimate book is an offering not only to the memory of Martin but to all those who are living through the death of family and friends.|
|Ito, S. (2018).The Emperor’s orphans. Turnstone Press||During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Japanese-Canadians were “repatriated” to Japan. Among those Canadians sent back to were members of author and poet, Sally Ito’s family. As a Japanese Canadian child growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, Ito’s early life was a lone island of steamed tofu and vegetables amidst a sea of pot roast and mashed potatoes. Through the Redress movement of the late 80s, the eventual Parliamentary acknowledgment of wartime injustices, and the restoration of citizenship to those exiled to Japan she considers her work as an author of poetry and prose, meditating on themes of culture and identity. Later as a wife and mother of two, Sally returns to Japan and re-lives the displacement of her family through interviews, letters, and shared memories. Throughout herjJourney Ito weaves a compelling narrative of her family’s journey through the darkest days of the Pacific War, its devastating aftermath, and the repercussions on cultural identity for all the Emperor’s Orphans.|
|Jackson, M. (1992). The mother zone: Love, sex and laundry in the modern family. Random House||Nights of no sleep, steeped in equal parts love, resentment and bodily fluids. The most intense tenderness warring with the deepest despair. The biggest question on a new mother’s mind: WHY DID NOBODY TELL ME IT WOULD BE LIKE THIS? Marni Jackson’s touching, funny and provocative journey through the terra incognita of motherhood will help you survive it and won’t let you forget. Ten years after its first publication, The Mother Zone is still fresh, still original, still the one book that every mother (and father) needs.|
|Johnson, H.R. (2018).Clifford. House of Anansi||I open my eyes in the darkness, laying on my side, half my vision is of the earth and shadows; the other is of the sky, treetops, and stars. I should write Clifford’s story. The thought emerges fully formed . . . The thought dissipates. I close my eyes and the earth and the sky disappear. The warmth of my sleeping bag wraps around me and sleep pulls me under into that half-world where reality and fantasy mingle in a place where coherent thoughts disintegrate. When Harold Johnson returns to his childhood home in a northern Saskatchewan Indigenous community for his brother Clifford’s funeral, the first thing his eyes fall on is a chair. It stands on three legs, the fourth broken off and missing. So begins a journey through the past, a retrieval of recollections that have too long sat dormant. Moving from the old family home to the log cabin, the garden, and finally settling deep in the forest surrounding the property, his mind circles back, shifting in time and space, weaving in and out of memories of his silent, powerful Swedish father; his formidable Cree mother, an expert trapper and a source of great strength; and his brother Clifford, a precocious young boy who is drawn to the mysterious workings of the universe. As the night unfolds, memories of Clifford surface in Harold’s mind’s eye: teaching his younger brother how to tie his shoelaces; jousting on a bicycle without rubber wheels; building a motorcycle. Memory, fiction, and fantasy collide, and Clifford comes to life as the scientist he was meant to be, culminating in his discovery of the Grand Unified Theory. Exquisitely crafted, funny, visionary, and wholly moving, Clifford is an extraordinary work for the way it defies strict category and embraces myriad forms of storytelling. To read it is to be immersed in a home, a family, a community, the wider world, the entire cosmos.|
|Joseph, C., & McLellan Day, K. (2018). Cujo: The untold story of my life on and off the ice. HarperCollins Publishers||Curtis Joseph, known affectionately to hockey fans around the world as Cujo, was an unlikely NHL superstar. The boy from Keswick, Ontario, didn’t put on a pair of skates until most kids his age were already far along in organized hockey, and he was passed over by every team in the NHL draft. Despite an unorthodox start, he would go on to play eighteen seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames; be ranked among the all-time greats in several key categories; and win an Olympic gold medal while representing Canada. Joseph is a legend in Toronto, where his fandom rivals that of other beloved Leaf greats, and he’s widely thought of as one of the best goalies of all time. For the first time, in this revealing memoir, Joseph talks about his highly unusual upbringing and what led him to put on his first pair of skates. Written by Kirstie McLellan Day, the world’s top writer of hockey books, this book surprises and entertains, and shares on- and off-the-ice tales no fan has heard before: the untold story behind the legend.|
|Juby, S. (2011). Nice recovery. Penguin Canada||From the author of Alice, I Think comes a riveting memoir of addiction and recovery. Susan Juby started out as a bright and creative student with an innate ability to write incredible stories. At the age of thirteen her life began to unravel, and like many teens, she turned to alcohol to get her through the awkward stages of trying to find her own unique identity and fit in with her peers at school. In this revealing memoir, she details the painful and sometimes funny experiences of trying to be clean and sober at a time when most young adults are just starting their drinking careers. Juby also looks into how the situation has changed for young people washing up on the shores of addiction today through a series of interviews with recovering addicts and alcoholics. Told with honesty and Juby’s wry wit, Nice Recovery is a candid memoir from one of Canada’s most beloved writers.|
|Kavanagh, P. (2015). The man who learned to walk three times. Knopf Canada||Peter Kavanagh was just an infant when he was diagnosed with paralytic polio and suffered permanent paralysis in the lower part of his left leg. As a child, Kavanagh endured painful medical procedures to even out the length of his legs, and experimental exercise techniques. He spent his youth in a leg brace and special footwear, isolating for a boy whose classmates ran freely in sneakers. His first lesson in walking was how to move while wearing such equipment. Throughout his life, as he developed a very successful career in public broadcasting, built a family, and indulged in his love of music and travel, Kavanagh underwent various surgeries and rehabilitation to give him “normal” mobility.|
The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times is a moving memoir of a full life, and of learning the same lesson over and over. Like Oliver Sacks’s books and Marni Jackson’s classic Pain: The Fifth Vital Sign, it combines medical history with a very personal case study. It documents coping with one’s pain, guilt and shame, and the anger that arises from being bullied. But this book is also a story of healing and rehabilitation, and of hard lessons, hard earned–about the courage to keep going and, if one way isn’t working, the awareness and bravery to try something new. Over time, these decisions and lessons help form a sense of identity; as Kavanagh says, “Walking is the key to who I am.”
|Kinew, W. (2015). The reason you walk: A memoir. Penguin.||A moving story of father-son reconciliation told by a charismatic aboriginal star When his father was given a diagnosis of terminal cancer, Winnipeg broadcaster and musician Wab Kinew decided to spend a year reconnecting with the accomplished but distant aboriginal man who’d raised him. The Reason You Walk spans that 2012 year, chronicling painful moments in the past and celebrating renewed hopes and dreams for the future. As Kinew revisits his own childhood in Winnipeg and on a reserve in Northern Ontario, he learns more about his father’s traumatic childhood at residential school. An intriguing doubleness marks The Reason You Walk, itself a reference to an Anishinaabe ceremonial song. Born to an Anishinaabe father and a non-native mother, he has a foot in both cultures. He is a Sundancer, an academic, a former rapper, a hereditary chief and an urban activist. His father, Tobasonakwut, was both a beloved traditional chief and a respected elected leader who engaged directly with Ottawa. Internally divided, his father embraced both traditional native religion and Catholicism, the religion that was inculcated into him at the residential school where he was physically and sexually abused. In a grand gesture of reconciliation, Kinew’s father invited the Roman Catholic bishop of Winnipeg to a Sundance ceremony in which he adopted him as his brother. Kinew writes affectingly of his own struggles in his twenties to find the right path, eventually giving up a self-destructive lifestyle to passionately pursue music and martial arts. From his unique vantage point, he offers an inside view of what it means to be an educated aboriginal living in a country that is just beginning to wake up to its aboriginal history and living presence. Invoking hope, healing and forgiveness, The Reason You Walk is a poignant story of a towering but damaged father and his son as they embark on a journey to repair their family bond. By turns lighthearted and solemn, Kinew gives us an inspiring vision for family and cross-cultural reconciliation, and for a wider conversation about the future of aboriginal peoples.|
|Kirkby, M. A. (2011). I am Hutterite: The fascinating true story of a young woman’s journey to reclaim her heritage. Thomas Nelson.||A Fascinating journey into the heart and culture of a reclusive religious community. I Am Hutterite takes readers into the hidden heart of the little-known Hutterite colony in southern Manitoba where author Mary-Ann Kirkby spent her childhood. When she was ten years old her parents packed up their seven children and a handful of possessions and left the security of the colony to start a new life. Overnight they were thrust into a world they didn’t understand, a world that did not understand them. Before she left the colony Mary-Ann had never tasted macaroni and cheese or ridden a bike. She had never heard of Walt Disney or rock-and-roll. She was forced to reinvent herself, denying her heritage to fit in with her peers. With great humor, Kirkby describes how she adapted to popular culture; and with raw honesty her family’s deep sense of loss for their community. More than a history lesson, I Am Hutterite is a powerful tale of retracing steps and understanding how our beginnings often define us. Controversial and acclaimed by the Hutterite community, Kirkby’s book unveils the rich history and traditions of her people, giving us a rare and intimate portrait of an extraordinary way of life.|
|Knight, C. (2018). Dear current occupant: A memoir. Book Hug.||From Vancouver-based writer Chelene Knight, Dear Current Occupant is a creative non-fiction memoir about home and belonging set in the 80s and 90s of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Using a variety of forms, Knight reflects on her childhood through a series of letters addressed to all of the current occupants now living in the twenty different houses she moved in and out of with her mother and brother. From blurry non-chronological memories of trying to fit in with her own family as the only mixed East Indian/Black child, to crystal clear recollections of parental drug use, Knight draws a vivid portrait of memory that still longs for a place and a home. Peering through windows and doors into intimate, remembered spaces now occupied by strangers, Knight writes to them in order to deconstruct her own past. From the rubble of memory she then builds a real place in order to bring herself back home.|
|Knockwood, D. (2018). Doug Knockwood, Mi’kmaw elder stories, memories, reflections. Fernwood Publishing.||Freeman Douglas Knockwood is a highly respected Elder in Mi’kmaw Territory and one of Canada’s premier addictions recovery counsellors. The story of his life is one of unimaginable colonial trauma, recovery and hope. At age 6, Knockwood was placed in the Shubenacadie Residential School, where he remained for a year and a half. Like hundreds of other Mi’kmaw and Maliseet children, he suffered horrible abuse. By the time he reached his twenties, he was an alcoholic. He contracted tuberculosis in the 1940s, had one lung and several ribs removed. Having hit rock bottom, Knockwood gained sobriety in his thirties through Alcoholics Anonymous. He went on to become a much sought after drug and alcohol rehabilitation counsellor in Canada. Many of Doug’s initiatives have been implemented across Canada and used by thousands of people, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. Looking back now, says Doug, “I realize I wasn’t only helping them. They were helping me to gather strength in my presentations, in feeding them the knowledge I received, the same as it was fed to me. That helped me to gain confidence in myself; doing all these things that I didn’t know I could yet do”. This book is an in-depth look at Doug Knockwood’s life that also casts a wide and critical glance at the forces that worked to undermine his existence and the indomitable spirit of a man who recovered from, yet still struggles to overcome, those forces.|
|Knockwood, I.(2015). Out of the depths: The experiences of Mi’kmaw children at the Indian residential school at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. Fernwood Publishing.||no description available on goodreads. In the 1880s, through an amendment to the Indian Act of 1876, the government of Canada began to require all Aboriginal children to attend schools administered by churches. Separating these children from their families, removing them from their communities and destroying Aboriginal culture by denying them the right to speak Indigenous languages and perform native spiritual ceremonies, these residential schools were explicitly developed to assimilate Aboriginal peoples into Canadian culture and erase their existence as a people. Daring to break the code of silence imposed on Aboriginal students, residential school survivor Isabelle Knockwood offers the firsthand experiences of forty-two survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School. In their own words, these former students remember their first day of residential schooling, when they were outwardly transformed through hair cuts and striped uniforms marked with numbers. Then followed years of inner transformation from a strict and regimented life of education and manual training, as well as harsh punishments for speaking their own language or engaging in Indigenous customs. The survivors also speak of being released from their school — and having to decide between living in a racist and unwelcoming dominant society or returning to reserves where the Aboriginal culture had evolved. In this newly updated fourth edition, Knockwood speaks to twenty-one survivors of the Shubenacadie Indian Residential School about their reaction to the apology by the Canadian government in 2008. Is it now possible to move forward. Retrieved from https://fernwoodpublishing.ca/book/out-of-the-depths-fourth-edition|
|Knott, H. (2019). In My Own Moccasins: A Memoir of Resilience. University of Regina Press.||Helen Knott, a highly accomplished Indigenous woman, seems to have it all. But in her memoir, she offers a different perspective. In My Own Moccasins is an unflinching account of addiction, intergenerational trauma, and the wounds brought on by sexual violence. It is also the story of sisterhood, the power of ceremony, the love of family, and the possibility of redemption.|
With gripping moments of withdrawal, times of spiritual awareness, and historical insights going back to the signing of Treaty 8 by her great-great grandfather, Chief Bigfoot, her journey exposes the legacy of colonialism, while reclaiming her spirit.
|Kurdi, T. (2018). The Boy on the beach: My family’s escape from Syria and our hope for a new home. Simon & Schuster||An intimate and poignant memoir about the family of Alan Kurdi—the young Syrian boy who became the global emblem for the desperate plight of millions of Syrian refugees—and of the many extraordinary journeys the Kurdis have taken, spanning countries and continents. Alan Kurdi’s body washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea on September 2, 2015, and overnight, the political became personal, as the world awoke to the reality of the Syrian refugee crisis. Tima Kurdi first saw the shocking photo of her nephew in her home in Vancouver, Canada. But Tima did not need a photo to understand the truth—she and her family had already been living it. In The Boy on the Beach, Tima recounts her idyllic childhood in Syria, where she grew up with her brother Abdullah and other siblings in a tight‑knit family. A strong‑willed, independent woman, Tima studied to be a hairdresser and had dreams of seeing the world. At twenty‑two, she emigrated to Canada, but much of her family remained in Damascus. Life as a single mother and immigrant in a new country wasn’t always easy, and Tima recounts with heart‑wrenching honesty the anguish of being torn between a new home and the world she’d left behind. As Tima struggled to adapt to life in a new land, war overtook her homeland. Caught in the crosshairs of civil war, her family risked everything and fled their homes. Tima worked tirelessly to help them find safety, but their journey was far from easy. Although thwarted by politics, hounded by violence, and separated by vast distances, the Kurdis encountered setbacks at every turn, they never gave up hope. And when tragedy struck, Tima suddenly found herself thrust onto the world stage as an advocate for refugees everywhere, a role for which she had never prepared but that allowed her to give voice to those who didn’t have an opportunity to speak for themselves. From the jasmine‑scented neighbourhoods of Damascus before the war to the streets of Aleppo during it, to the refugee camps of Europe and the leafy suburbs of Vancouver, The Boy on the Beach is one family’s story of love, loss, and the persistent search for safe harbour in a devastating time of war.|
|Lafferty, C. (2018). Northern wildflower. Fernwood Publishing.||This is the story of how a young northern girl picked herself up out of the rough and polished herself off like the diamond that she is in the land of the midnight sun. Northern Wildflower is the beautifully written and powerful memoir of Catherine Lafferty. With startling honesty and a distinct, occasionally humorous, voice, Lafferty tells her story of being a Dene woman growing up in a small northern Canadian mining town and her struggles with discrimination, poverty, addiction, love and loss. Focusing on the importance of family ties, education, spiritualism, cultural identity, health and happiness, the relentless pursuit of success and the courage to speak the truth, Lafferty’s words bring cultural awareness and relativity to Indigenous and non-Indigenous readers alike, giving insight into the real issues many Indigenous women face.|
|Lau, E. (1989). Runaway: Diary of a street kid. Harper & Collins.||At the age of six, Evelyn Lau already knew what she wanted from life — to be a writer. Frustrated and discouraged by her parents, who forbade her to “waste” valuable study time writing, Evelyn ran away at the age of fourteen. Seduced by the freedom and independence that life on the streets of Vancouver seemed to offer, she was soon trapped in a downward spiral of drug addiction and prostitution. During her two harrowing years on the street, Lau’s writing ambition never left her; almost obsessively, she kept a written record of her days on the street. This record is Runaway: Diary of a Street Kid. Tragic, sometimes infuriating, but always honest and inspired, Runaway makes no apologies, passes no judgments, and offers no trite moral-of-the-story solutions. The result is a raw and vivid portrait of the life of a street kid.|
|Leavitt, S. (2011). Tangles: A story about Alzheimer’s, my mother and me. Random House.||“In this powerful memoir … Sarah Leavitt reveals how Alzheimer’s disease transformed her mother, Midge, and her family forever. In spare black-and-white drawings and clear, candid prose, Sarah shares her family’s journey through a harrowing range of emotions: shock, denial, hope, anger, frustration all the while learning to cope, and managing to find moments of happiness. Midge, a Harvard educated intellectual, struggles to comprehend the simplest words; Sarah’s father, Rob, slowly adapts to his new role as full-time caretaker, but still finds time for wordplay and poetry with his wife; Sarah and her sister Hannah argue, laugh, and grieve together as they join forces to help Midge. Tangles confronts the complexity of Alzheimer’s disease, and ultimately releases a knot of memories and dreams to reveal a bond between a mother and a daughter that will never come apart.”|
|Lee, K.E. (2016).The full catastrophe: A memoir. She writes press.||The Full Catastrophe has won two Finalist Medals in the category of Women’s Issues from The Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the USA Best Book Awards. This is a book about resurrection and healing. In 1998, after having been married to Duncan, a bully who’d been controlling her for the fourteen years they’d been together, Karen E. Lee thought divorce was in the cards. But ten months after telling him that she wanted that divorce, Duncan was diagnosed with cancer and eight months later, he was gone. Karen hoped her problems would be solved after Duncan’s death but instead, she found that, without his ranting, raving, and screaming taking up space in her life, she had her own demons to face. Luckily, Duncan had inadvertently left her the keys to her own salvation and healing a love of Jungian psychology and a book that was to be her guide through the following years. In “The Full Catastrophe,” Karen explores Jungian analysis, the dreams she had during this period, the intuitive messages she learned to trust in order to heal, and her own emotional journey including romances, travel adventures, and friends. Insightful and brutally honest, “The Full Catastrophe” is the story of a well educated, professional woman who, after marrying the wrong kind of man twice finally resurrects her life.|
|Leech, G (2019). Ghosts within: Journeying through PTSD. Fernwood Publishing.||What are the long-term psychological costs of violence and war? Journalist Garry Leech draws from his experiences as a war correspondent, his ongoing personal struggle with PTSD and the latest research on this mental illness to provide a powerful and vivid answer to this question. For thirteen years, Leech worked in Colombia’s rural conflict zones where he experienced combat, witnessed massacre sites and was held captive by armed groups. This raw account of his journey from war on the battlefield to an internal, psychological war at home illustrates how those who work with traumatized populations can themselves be impacted by trauma. Leech removes some of the stigmas, fears and ignorance related to PTSD by shedding light on a largely invisible illness that mostly manifests itself behind the closed doors of our homes. Ultimately, the book uses a journalist’s journey through PTSD to provide a message of hope for all those who suffer from this illness.|
|Lewis, M. (2011). Memoirs of an addicted brain: A neuroscientist examines his former life. Random House||A gripping, ultimately triumphant memoir that’s also the most comprehensive and comprehensible study of the neuroscience of addiction written for the general public. FROM THE INTRODUCTION: “We are prone to a cycle of craving what we don’t have, finding it, using it up or losing it, and then craving it all the more. This cycle is at the root of all addictions, addictions to drugs, sex, love, cigarettes, soap operas, wealth, and wisdom itself. But why should this be so? Why are we desperate for what we don’t have, or can’t have, often at great cost to what we do have, thereby risking our peace and contentment, our safety, and even our lives?” The answer, says Dr. Marc Lewis, lies in the structure and function of the human brain. Marc Lewis is a distinguished neuroscientist. And, for many years, he was a drug addict himself, dependent on a series of dangerous substances, from LSD to heroin. His narrative moves back and forth between the often dark, compellingly recounted story of his relationship with drugs and a revelatory analysis of what was going on in his brain. He shows how drugs speak to the brain – which is designed to seek rewards and soothe pain – in its own language. He shows in detail the neural mechanics of a variety of powerful drugs and of the onset of addiction, itself a distortion of normal perception. Dr. Lewis freed himself from addiction and ended up studying it. At the age of 30 he traded in his pharmaceutical supplies for the life of a graduate student, eventually becoming a professor of developmental psychology, and then of neuroscience – his field for the last 12 years. This is the story of his journey, seen from the inside out.|
|MacKinnon, F.R. (2004). Reflections. 55 years in public service in Nova Scotia. Fernwood Publishing.||A compelling profile of a pioneer in social welfare and human rights policy development in Nova Scotia is provided in this autobiography of Fred MacKinnon. Discussions of key issues that MacKinnon advocated, including the modernization of social assistance, the extension of the child welfare service, and the development of a human rights program accompany personal accounts of his family, career choices, and educational experiences.|
|Mailhot, T.M. (2018). Heart berries. Counterpoint Press.||Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father―an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist―who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame. Mailhot trusts the reader to understand that memory isn’t exact, but melded to imagination, pain, and what we can bring ourselves to accept. Her unique and at times unsettling voice graphically illustrates her mental state. As she writes, she discovers her own true voice, seizes control of her story, and, in so doing, reestablishes her connection to her family, to her people, and to her place in the world.|
|Martin, P. (2009). Hell or high water: My life in and out of politics. Emblem Editions.||Although he grew up in Windsor and Ottawa as the son of the legendary Cabinet Minister Paul Martin, politics was not in his blood. As a kid he loved sports, and had summer jobs as a deckhand or a roustabout. As a young man he plunged into family life, and into the business world. After his years as a “corporate firefighter” for Power Corporation came the excitement of acquiring Canada Steamship Lines in Canada’s largest ever leveraged buy-out, “the most audacious gamble of my life.” In 1988, however, he became a Liberal M.P., ran for the leadership in 1990 and in 1993 became Jean Chrétien’s minister of finance, with the country in a deep hole. The story of his years as perhaps our best finance minister ever leads to his account of the revolt against Chrétien, and his time in office.|
|McLeod, D. J. (2018). Mamaskatch. Douglas & McIntyre||Growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod was surrounded by his Cree family’s history. In shifting and unpredictable stories, his mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. McLeod was comforted by her presence and that of his many siblings and cousins, the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, and his deep love of the landscape. Bertha taught him to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that would return to watch over and guide him at key junctures of his life. However, in a spiral of events, Darrel’s mother turned wild and unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades and pursue an interest in music while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Meanwhile, his sibling’s gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity. The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha’s attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them. Beautifully written, honest and thought-provoking, Mamaskatch—named for the Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is ultimately an uplifting account of overcoming personal and societal obstacles. In spite of the traumas of Darrel’s childhood, deep and mysterious forces handed down by his mother helped him survive and thrive: her love and strength stayed with him to build the foundation of what would come to be a very fulfilling and adventurous life.|
|Meisner, N. (2014).Double pregnant. Two lesbians make a family. Fernwood Publishing.||Girl meets girl. Girl marries girl. They want to have babies…but they need a little help. Double Pregnant is author Natalie Meisner’s light-hearted, poignant and informative true story about starting a family with her wife Viviën. Because Viviën is a woman of colour who was adopted into a white family, the couple wants their children to have a connection to their donor and decide against taking the anonymous, sperm clinic route. But they realize they are going to need some help. Taking matters into their own hands leads the couple to a series of often-hilarious “dates” with potential donors, all of whom have wildly different opinions on how the donation process should go, and how Natalie and Viviën should proceed as a new family.|
|Merasty, J. A., & Carpenter, D. (2017). The Education of Augie Merasty: a residential school memoir. University of Regina Press.||This memoir offers a courageous and intimate chronicle of life in a residential school.|
Now a retired fisherman and trapper, the author was one of an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children who were taken from their families and sent to government- funded, church-run schools, where they were subjected to a policy of “aggressive assimilation.”
As Augie Merasty recounts, these schools did more than attempt to mold children in the ways of white society. They were taught to be ashamed of their native heritage and, as he experienced, often suffered physical and sexual abuse.
But, even as he looks back on this painful part of his childhood, Merasty’s sense of humour and warm voice shine through.
|Midgley, P. (2014). Counting teeth: A Namibian story. Wolsak and Wynn.||In “Counting Teeth: A Namibian story,” Peter Midgley travels the byways of Namibia, his childhood home, with his teenaged daughter, Sinead, as his companion. Along the way they examine the layering of culture and history, and the author introduces his daughter to this complex country while renewing his love of the land and its people. Memories of war dog the journey, as the author’s own history as a conscientious objector in the Namibian War of Independence with South Africa becomes intertwined with the war-ravaged history of Namibia itself, and the travellers find the bitter legacy of apartheid lingering in unexpected ways. Midgley shows the reader the dizzying beginnings of independence in Namibia, a country of struggle, but one growing and changing, filled with fascinating people and dramatic landscapes.|
|Mierau, M. (2014). Detachment: An adoption memoir. Freehand books||In 2005, Maurice Mierau and his wife, Betsy, travelled to Ukraine to adopt two small boys, age three and five. After weeks of delays while navigating a tangled bureaucracy, they returned to Canada as a proud new family of four. Now what? In Detachment, Mierau probes not only the process of adoption but what comes after–the challenges of becoming a family, the strain on his marriage. While his son acts out and gets in trouble at school, Mierau feels removed, detached, thinking instead about his own emotionally distant father. Also born in Ukraine, Mierau’s Mennonite father has a traumatic and mysterious past of his own. If Mierau can come to understand his father’s life, perhaps he can start to make sense of his new sons… Detachment is a moving, darkly funny, and searingly unsentimental memoir about learning to become a father and a son. “Detachment is a startling portrait of a real Modern Family–cobbled together across continents, haunted by old wars and buried trauma, held together by the stubborn human need for love and connection, for belonging. Maurice Mierau’s attempt to understand the people who made him what he is, while holding his own invented family together, is completely compelling: brutally honest, harrowing, and compassionate.” – Michael Crummey, author of Galore|
|Moran, B. (1992). A little rebellion. Arsenal Pulp Press.||In 1964, social worker Bridget Moran attracted widespread attention and the wrath of the BC government with her open letter to Premier W.A.C. Bennett, charging the welfare department with gross neglect in addressing the problems of the province’s needy. This very public dispute formed a small part of Bridget Moran’s “little rebellion” against a system she felt did not, and does not, respond to the needs of those it was designed to help. “A Little Rebellion” is a moving portrait of a fiery and outspoken woman whose ongoing activism is inspired by a deeply-felt desire for social and political justice. Now in its 5th printing.|
|Moroney, S. (2011). Through the glass. Doubleday Canada||An impassioned, harrowing and ultimately hopeful story of one woman’s pursuit of justice, forgiveness and healing. When Shannon Moroney married in October of 2005, she had no idea that her happy life as a newlywed was about to come crashing down around her. One month after her wedding, a police officer arrived at her door to tell her that her husband, Jason, had been arrested and charged in the brutal assault and kidnapping of two women. In the aftermath of these crimes, Shannon dealt with a heavy burden of grief, the stress and publicity of a major criminal investigation, and the painful stigma of guilt-by-association, all while attempting to understand what had made Jason turn to such violence. In this intimate and gripping journey into prisons, courtrooms and the human heart, Shannon reveals the far-reaching impact of Jason’s crimes, the agonizing choices faced by the loved ones of offenders and the implicit dangers of a correctional system and a society that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation, and victimhood over recovery.|
|Mosionier, B. (2009). Come walk with me: A memoir. Portage & Main Press||In 1983, the book In Search of April Raintree was published to great acclaim, heralding the voice of an important new writer, Beatrice Mosionier (then Culleton). With honesty and clarity, Mosionier explored the story of two Métis sisters as they struggle with loss, identity, and racism. Yet readers have long asked: how much of April’s story comes from the author’s own life? Come Walk With Me, Beatrice’s answer to that question, is a moving memoir that follows a bewildered three-year-old through a dramatic journey to adulthood. Recounting a life that, at times, parallels that of her most memorable fictional character, and at others, diverges from it, Mosionier searches to make sense of her losses—her sundered family, her innocence, and her dignity—only to triumph as a woman and writer, fulfilled artistically, politically, and personally.|
|Mountain, A. (2019). From Bear Rock Mountain: The life and times of a Dene residential school survivor. Brindle & Glass||In 1949, Antoine Mountain was born on the land near Radelie Koe (Fort Good Hope) in the Northwest Territories just south of the Arctic Circle. At the tender age of seven, he was stolen away from his home and sent to a residential school–run by the Roman Catholic Church in collusion with the Government of Canada–three hundred kilometres away. Over the next twelve years, the three residential schools Mountain was forced to attend systematically worked to erase his language and culture, the very roots of his identity. While reconnecting to that which had been taken from him, he had a disturbing and painful revelation of the bitter depths of colonialism and its legacy of cultural genocide. Canada has its own holocaust, Mountain argues. As a celebrated artist and social activist today, Mountain shares this moving, personal story of healing and the reclamation of his Dene identity.|
|Mulroney, B. (2007). Memoirs: 1939–1993. Douglas Gibson.||Politics was always Brian Mulroney’s real love. As an undergraduate in Nova Scotia he amazed his friends by getting Prime Minister Diefenbaker on the phone, and he rose fast in the Tory ranks in Quebec as a young Montreal lawyer. He tried for the leadership of the party in 1976, losing to Joe Clark, then returned to win a rematch in 1983. The next year, he ran the most successful election campaign in Canadian history, winning 211 seats, and taking office in September 1984. His first term in office was a stormy one, marked by the launch of the Meech Lake Accord and the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. In 1988, however, he was re-elected after a rollercoaster campaign, and his second term in office was just as controversial, featuring the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords — still a source of bitter regret for him, as opportunities missed. This book falls into two main sections: first, his rise out of a working-class family in Baie-Comeau. Second, his immersion into the world of Ottawa politics, in opposition and then in power. The years in power are dealt with in fascinating detail, and we receive his candid accounts of backstage dealings with Trudeau, Clark, and other Canadian leaders and on the international scene with Reagan, Thatcher, Mitterrand, Kohl, Gorbachev, Mandela, Clinton, and many more. This big book has a huge cast of major players. Brian Mulroney is determined to make this the best prime minister’s memoirs this country has ever seen, and a full-time researcher has been helping him for three years. This account of his career is colourful and forthright, and a number of opponents will be sorry that they caught his attention. The manuscript is full of personal touches and reflects the fact that he wrote it by hand, reading it aloud for rhythm and impact. Studded with entries from his private journal, this book — by a son, brother, husband, and father — is deeply personal, and includes some surprisingly frank admissions. The book establishes the scale of his achievements, and reveals him as a man of great charm. Memoirs will allow that little-known Brian Mulroney to engage directly with the reader. This book is full of surprises, as we fall under the spell of a great storyteller.|
|Nixon, L (2018). nîtisânak. Metonymy Press||How do you honour blood and chosen kin with equal care? A groundbreaking memoir spanning nations, prairie punk scenes, and queer love stories, Lindsay Nixon’s nîtisânak is woven around grief over the loss of their mother. It also explores despair and healing through community and family, and being torn apart by the same. Using cyclical narrative techniques and drawing on Nixon’s Cree, Saulteaux, and Métis ancestral teachings, this work offers a compelling perspective on the connections that must be broken and the ones that heal.|
|Pachai, B. (2007). Accidental opportunities: A journey through many doors, An autobiography. Fernwood Publishing.||Compelling and inspiring, this autobiography chronicles the life of Bridglal “Bridge” Pachai, a lifelong advocate of social justice whose journey has taken him from South Africa to Halifax, Nova Scotia. The book traces his years teaching history—at universities in South Africa, Malawi, Gambia, and Halifax—while also detailing his important work as director of both the Black Cultural Centre in Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission. Ultimately, this memoir reveals how one man’s ideals and convictions have shone through to hold him on his remarkable path.|
|Parascandola, J. (2019). Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age.||Growing up in the tiny village of Smith, Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod was surrounded by his Cree family’s history. In shifting and unpredictable stories, his mother, Bertha, shared narratives of their culture, their family and the cruelty that she and her sisters endured in residential school. McLeod was comforted by her presence and that of his many siblings and cousins, the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea, and his deep love of the landscape. Bertha taught him to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that would return to watch over and guide him at key junctures of his life.|
However, in a spiral of events, Darrel’s mother turned wild and unstable, and their home life became chaotic. Sweet and innocent by nature, Darrel struggled to maintain his grades and pursue an interest in music while changing homes many times, witnessing violence, caring for his younger siblings and suffering abuse at the hands of his surrogate father. Meanwhile, his sibling’s gender transition provoked Darrel to deeply question his own sexual identity.
The fractured narrative of Mamaskatch mirrors Bertha’s attempts to reckon with the trauma and abuse she faced in her own life, and captures an intensely moving portrait of a family of strong personalities, deep ties and the shared history that both binds and haunts them.
Beautifully written, honest and thought-provoking, Mamaskatch—named for the Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is ultimately an uplifting account of overcoming personal and societal obstacles. In spite of the traumas of Darrel’s childhood, deep and mysterious forces handed down by his mother helped him survive and thrive: her love and strength stayed with him to build the foundation of what would come to be a very fulfilling and adventurous life.
|Parrot, J. (2005). My union, my life: Jean-Claude Parrot and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. Fernwood Publishing.||This personal memoir of Jean-Claude Parrot, the national president of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers for 15 years, doubles as the story of the labor union’s formation and rise to fame.|
|Parsi, A. & Colbourne, M. (2015). Exiled for love the journey of an Iranian queer activist. Fernwood Publishing.||To be gay in Iran means to live in the shadow of death. The country’s harsh Islamic code of Lavat is used to execute gay men, and LGBT individuals who avoid execution are often subjected to severe lashings, torture and imprisonment. It was in this unforgiving environment that Arsham Parsi came to terms with his identity as a gay man.|
|Penny, J. (2014). On the Goose: A Labrador Métis Woman Remembers. Dundurn.||Josie Penny’s life as part of a loving Métis family in an isolated corner of Labrador changed dramatically when she was taken away to a residential school. Abused by the students, Josie became increasingly angry and isolated from her family and community as she grew into her teens. At seventeen she left for Goose Bay to make her fortune and start her own life.|
On the Goose is the story of how Josie came to terms with her feelings of helplessness and isolation as she began to understand why she could not feel or express love. Josie Penny’s memoir is an inspiring true story of how love and hard work helped one woman triumph over adversity.
|Powley, J. (2018). Just Jen. Thriving through multiple sclerosis. Fernwood Publishing.||Jen Powley was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at fifteen. By thirty-five, she had lost the use of her arms and legs. Just Jen is a powerful memoir that tells the story of Powley’s life at the time of her diagnosis, and the infinite, irrevocable ways it has changed since. Powley’s writing pulls no punches. She is lively, bold and unapologetic, answering questions people are often afraid to ask about living with a progressive disease. And yet, these snapshots from Powley’s life are not tinged with anger or despair. Just Jen is a powerful, uplifting and unforgettable work by an author who has laid her life — and her body — bare in order to survive.|
|Richler, M. (1984). Home sweet home. Alfred A. Knopf||No description available on Goodreads. A book of perceptive essays about Canada from a Canadian who was often elsewhere. He shows how Canadian he is while still retaining the view that Canada was “still more geography than nation.” Retrieved from https://www.amazon.ca/Home-Sweet-My-Canadian-Album/dp/0771074883|
|Robinson, E. (2012). The Sasquatch at Home: Traditional Protocols & Modern Storytelling. University of Alberta.||The Sasquatch at Home shares and intimate look into the intricacies of family, culture, and place. Robinson’s disarming honesty and wry irony shine through her depictions of her and her mother’s trip to Graceland, the potlatch where she and here sister received their Indian names, how her parents first met in Bella Bella (Waglisla, British Columbia), a look at b’gwus, the Sasquatch. Readers of memoir, Canadian literature, Aboriginal history and culture, and fans of Robinson’s delightful, poignant, sometimes quirky tales will love The Sasquatch at Home.|
|Rosenbaum, L. (2014).Not exactly as planned: A memoir of adoption, secrets and abiding love. Demeter Press||Not Exactly As Planned is a captivating, deeply moving account of adoption and the unexpected challenges of raising a child with fetal alcohol syndrome. Linda Rosenbaum’s life takes a major turn when her son, adopted at birth, is diagnosed with irreversible brain damage. With love, hope and all the medical knowledge she can accumulate, she sets out to change his prognosis and live with as much joy as she can while struggling to accept her new reality. Not Exactly As Planned is more than a story of motherlove. It’s about bird- watching, bar mitzvahs, the collision of ’60’s ideals with the real world, family secrets and woodcarving.|
|Rustad, H. (2018). Big lonely Doug. House of Anansi Press||On a cool morning in the winter of 2011, a logger named Dennis Cronin was walking through a stand of old-growth forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island. His job was to survey the land and flag the boundaries for clear-cutting. As he made his way through the forest, Cronin came across a massive Douglas fir the height of a twenty-storey building. It was one of the largest trees in Canada that if felled and milled could easily fetch more than fifty thousand dollars. Instead of moving on, he reached into his vest pocket for a flagging he rarely used, tore off a strip, and wrapped it around the base of the trunk. Along the length of the ribbon were the words “Leave Tree.” When the fallers arrived, every wiry cedar, every droopy-topped hemlock, every great fir was cut down and hauled away — all except one. The solitary tree stood quietly in the clear cut until activist and photographer T. J. Watt stumbled upon the Douglas fir while searching for big trees for the Ancient Forest Alliance, an environmental organization fighting to protect British Columbia’s dwindling old-growth forests. The single Douglas fir exemplified their cause: the grandeur of these trees juxtaposed with their plight. They gave it a name: Big Lonely Doug. The tree would also eventually, and controversially, be turned into the poster child of the Tall Tree Capital of Canada, attracting thousands of tourists every year and garnering the attention of artists, businesses, and organizations who saw new values encased within its bark. Originally featured as a long-form article in The Walrus that garnered a National Magazine Award (Silver), Big Lonely Dougweaves the ecology of old-growth forests, the legend of the West Coast’s big trees, the turbulence of the logging industry, the fight for preservation, the contention surrounding ecotourism, First Nations land and resource rights, and the fraught future of these ancient forests around the story of a logger who saved one of Canada’s last great trees.|
|Salverson, J. (2016). Lines of flight: An atomic memoir. Wolsak and Wynn.||Julie Salverson grew up listening to the secrets of others. As an adult she works to help people tell their own difficult and painful histories by turning them into plays and performances, but eventually the trauma of these stories overwhelms her. Buckling under the weight of her work and on the verge of losing faith in anything, Salverson discovers a connection between Canada’s north and the atomic bombsthat fell on Japan, which becomes the start of a ten-year journey. In Lines of Flight, she traces that radioactive trail from a small village outside Toronto to Great Bear Lakein the Northwest Territories and onto Hiroshima.|
|Sellars, B., & Harrison, M. (2013). They called me number one: Secrets and survival at an Indian residential school. Talonbooks.||Xat’sull Chief Bev Sellars spent her childhood in a church-run residential school whose aim it was to “civilize” Native children through Christian teachings, forced separation from family and culture, and discipline. In addition, beginning at the age of five, Sellars was isolated for two years at Coqualeetza Indian Tuberculosis Hospital in Sardis, British Columbia, nearly six hours’ drive from home. The trauma of these experiences has reverberated throughout her life. The first full-length memoir to be published out of St. Joseph’s Mission at Williams Lake, BC, Sellars tells of three generations of women who attended the school, interweaving the personal histories of her grandmother and her mother with her own. She tells of hunger, forced labour, and physical beatings, often with a leather strap, and also of the demand for conformity in a culturally alien institution where children were confined and denigrated for failure to be White and Roman Catholic. Like Native children forced by law to attend schools across Canada and the United States, Sellars and other students of St. Joseph’s Mission were allowed home only for two months in the summer and for two weeks at Christmas. The rest of the year they lived, worked, and studied at the school. St. Joseph’s Mission is the site of the controversial and well-publicized sex-related offences of Bishop Hubert O’Connor, which took place during Sellars’s student days, between 1962 and 1967, when O’Connor was the school principal. After the school’s closure, those who had been forced to attend came from surrounding reserves and smashed windows, tore doors and cabinets from the wall, and broke anything that could be broken. Overnight their anger turned a site of shameful memory into a pile of rubble. In this frank and poignant memoir, Sellars breaks her silence about the institution’s lasting effects, and eloquently articulates her own path to healing.|
|Shraya, V. (2018). I’m afraid of men. Penguin||“Emotional and painful but also layered with humour, I’m Afraid of Men will widen your lens on gender and challenge you to do better. This challenge is a necessary one—one we must all take up. It is a gift to dive into Vivek’s heart and mind.” —Rupi Kaur, bestselling author of The Sun and Her Flowers and Milk and Honey A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century Vivek Shraya has reason to be afraid. Throughout her life she’s endured acts of cruelty and aggression for being too feminine as a boy and not feminine enough as a girl. In order to survive childhood, she had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As an adult, she makes daily compromises to steel herself against everything from verbal attacks to heartbreak. Now, with raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate. I’m Afraid of Men is a journey from camouflage to a riot of colour and a blueprint for how we might cherish all that makes us different and conquer all that makes us afraid.|
|Sileika, A.(2017). The barefoot bingo caller: A Memoir. ECW Press.||A rollicking memoir through the shifting zeitgeist of the last five decades In The Barefoot Bingo Caller, Antanas Sileika finds what’s funny and touching in the most unlikely places, from the bingo hall to the collapsing Soviet Union. He shares stories that span his attempts to shake off his suburban, ethnic, folk-dancing childhood to his divided allegiance as a Lithuanian-Canadian father. Antanas has a keen eye for social comedy, bringing to life such memorable characters as ageing beat poets, oblivious college students, the queen of the booze cans, and an obdurate porcupine. Passing through places as varied as the prime minister’s office and the streets of Paris, these wry and moving dispatches on work and family, art, and identity are ones to be shared and savoured.|
|Smith, M.V. (2015). My body is yours: An anatomy of melancholy masculinity. Arsenal Pulp Press||A memoir about fathers and sons, breaking out of gender norms, and reconciling with a dangerous childhood. Lambda Literary Award finalist Michael V. Smith is a multihyphenate force of nature: a novelist, poet, improv comic, filmmaker, drag queen, performance artist, and occasional clown. In this, his first work of nonfiction, Michael traces his early years as an inadequate male–a fey kid growing up in a small town amid a blue-collar family; a sissy; an insecure teenager desperate to disappear; and an obsessive writer-performer, drawn to compulsions of alcohol, sex, reading, spending, work, and art as a means to cope and heal. As an artist whose work focuses on our preconceived notions about the body, Michael questions the very notion of what it means to be human. He also asks: How can we know what a man is? How might understanding gender as metaphor be a tool for a deeper understanding of identity? In coming to terms with his past “failures” at masculinity, and with an aging father he is only beginning to come to know, Michael offers a new way of thinking about breaking out of gender norms, and reconciling with a dangerous childhood.|
|107. Stewart, M. (2015). Shell: One woman’s final year after a lifelong struggle with anorexia and bulimia. Life Tree Media Ltd||In March 2013 Michelle Stewart was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure due to her eating disorder and given only a few months to live. Determined to share her story while she still had the chance, Michelle began writing a revealing blog in which she chronicled her lifelong struggle and her experiences as a palliative patient. “I have had a 32-year dress rehearsal for the fate I now face,” she writes. This memoir is a collection of the most poignant pieces of writing from that blog, supplemented with previously unpublished pieces of original poetry from the author.|
|Talaga, T. (2017). Seven fallen feathers: Racism, death, and hard truths in a Northern city. House of Anansi Press.||In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied. More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The seven were hundreds of miles away from their families, forced to leave home and live in a foreign and unwelcoming city. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Jordan Wabasse, a gentle boy and star hockey player, disappeared into the minus twenty degrees Celsius night. The body of celebrated artist Norval Morrisseau’s grandson, Kyle, was pulled from a river, as was Curran Strang’s. Robyn Harper died in her boarding-house hallway and Paul Panacheese inexplicably collapsed on his kitchen floor. Reggie Bushie’s death finally prompted an inquest, seven years after the discovery of Jethro Anderson, the first boy whose body was found in the water. Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning investigative journalist Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this small northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.|
|Ternette, N. (2013). Rebel without a pause. Fernwood Publishing.||Rebel Without a Pause is the autobiography of Winnipeg s best-known and most persistent political activist, Nick Ternette. For over forty years, Nick was one of the loudest voices of the left, who ran for mayor multiple times and never shied away from asking elected officials tough questions. A champion of the rights of the poor and the disabled, sustainable ecology and public transit as well as a leader in Winnipeg s peace movement, Nick was a thorn in the side of politicians and city officials for decades. While this book is also the story of political activism in Winnipeg since the 1960s, Rebel Without a Pause tells the story of who Nick was and how he became a professional radical, a person who never stopped being an activist and who truly believed in social justice and the power of political action. Written before his death in March 2013, Rebel Without a Pause invites us into the personal life and political memories of one of Winnipeg s most cherished citizens.|
|Thistle, J. (2019). From the ashes: My story of being Metis, homeless, and finding my way. Simon & Schuster (Aug. 6 2019 release)||In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle—once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar—chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. If I can just make it to the next minute . . . then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead. From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up. Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, but their tough-love attitudes meant conflicts became commonplace. And the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. One day, he finally realized he would die unless he turned his life around. In this heartwarming and heartbreaking memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful experiences with abuse, uncovering the truth about his parents, and how he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family through education. An eloquent exploration of what it means to live in a world surrounded by prejudice and racism and to be cast adrift, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help one find happiness despite the odds.|
|Toews, M. (2000). Swing low: A life. Penguin Random House||“Audacious, original and profoundly moving . . . . Healing is a likely outcome of a book imbued with the righteous anger, compassion and humanity of Swing Low.” —Globe and Mail (Canada)Reverberating with emotional power, authenticity, and insight, Swing Low is Miriam Toews’s daring and deeply affecting memoir of her father’s struggle with manic depression in a small Mennonite community in rural Canada. Personal and touching, a stirring counterpart to her novel IrmaVoth and reminiscent of works by Susan Cheever, Gail Caldwell, Mary Karr, and Alexandra Styron, Swing Low is an elegiac ode to a difficult life by an author drawing from the deepest well of insight,craft, and emotion.|
|Tootoo,J.& Brunt, S. (2014).All the way: My life on ice. Penguin||It seemed as though nothing could stop Jordin Tootoo on the ice. The captain, a fan favourite, a star in international competition, Tootoo was always a leader. And when he was drafted by Nashville in 2001 and made the Predators out of camp in 2003, he became a leader in another way–as the first player of Inuk descent to suit up in the NHL. All the challenges and pressure would have been more than enough for any rookie, but Tootoo faced something far more difficult: the tragic loss of his older brother before his first shift for the Predators. Though he played through it, Tootoo suffered from many of the same problems that have plagued so many people from his community. In 2010, he checked himself into rehab for alcohol addiction. It seemed as though a promising career had ended too soon. But that’s not the way Tootoo saw it and not the way it would end. Told in Tootoo’s bold voice, with contributions by Stephen Brunt, arguably one of the best sportswriters, All the Way is the searing, honest tale of a young man who has risen to every challenge but all too nearly fell short in the toughest game of all.|
|Trudeau, J. (2014). Common ground. Harper Collins.||Justin Trudeau’s memoir describes the experiences that have shaped him over the course of his life, covering the years from his childhood at 24 Sussex to his role as Liberal leader today.|
|Trudeau, P. (1993). Memoirs. McClelland & Stewart.||Pierre Trudeau was prime minister of Canada from 1968 to 1979 and from 1980 to 1984. This is his story, told in his own words. Take a look through the book. When you do, you will find that this remarkable memoir has many qualities. It is: PERSONAL As if he were sitting across the table from you, Pierre Trudeau reminisces about his life in an informal, direct way. He starts with his memories of his family, especially his mother and father, to whom the book is dedicated. There are memorable events from childhood here, such as a visit to complain to the principal on his second day at school. Later there is a lunchroom encounter with a high school bully and then, at the age of fifteen, real tragedy. “Aroused by the ringing of the telephone, I came out of my room to go downstairs and find out what was happening. But I froze on the landing when I heard the awful words: ‘Your father is dead, Pierre.’” PHILOSOPHICAL After an extensive education in Montreal, Boston, London, and Paris, Trudeau set off with a backpack to travel around the world. He tells how he went through one war zone after another, encountering armed bandits and being arrested in wartime Jordan as a Jewish spy. These adventures and further travels through India and war-torn China left with him a deep belief in the rights of the individual and the vital role of government in protecting these rights. He tells how his hatred of narrow nationalism reinforced his stand against requests for special treatment by successive Quebec governments. POLITICAL From the day he decided to go to Ottawa as a Liberal MP in 1965, Trudeau was clearly on a fast track. After becoming minister of justice in 1967 and tackling very controversial law reforms, he ran for the leadership and became prime minister in 1968 – the first Canadian leader born in the twentieth century. He talks about his use of “the Liberal machine” and all the electoral fights that followed over the year, providing interesting insights into his contests with national opponents such as Robert Stanfield, David Lewis, Joe Clark (a tougher opponent than the man who deposed him), Ed Broadbent, and Brian Mulroney, about whose virtues he is eloquently silent. PERSONALITY-FILLED As a leader whose time in office ran from the fall of Charles de Gaulle to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev, Pierre Trudeau was able to exert his influence to break down the Cold War mentality. He enjoyed good personal rapport with such different leaders as Chou Enlai, Jimmy Carter, Fidel Castro, Helmut Schmidt, and François Mitterand. His relations with Richard Nixon and Margaret Thatcher were less warm, and he was less impressed by Ronald Reagan’s intellect than by the wisdom of the Queen. PATRIOTIC Whether they loved him or hated him, Canadians knew that in Pierre Trudeau’s time, the government stood up for Canada. He stood up to the domestic terrorism of the FLQ – and he makes no apologies here for his tough response to the October Crisis in 1970 – just as he stood up to the provincial premiers (including Réné Lévesque) who he believed were blocking the patriation of Canada’s constitution ten years later. PERTINENT The author’s preface ends with a word to you, the reader. “Whether you were a Liberal Cabinet colleague, a Canadian voter whose support we sought, or a young Canadian whose future we tried to improve, you are a part of this book.”|
|Tyman, J. (1989). Inside out: An autobiography by a Native Canadian. Saskatoon: Fifth House.||What causes Native Canadians to be disproportionately represented in the prisons, unemployment lines and welfare lists, in the drunk tanks and the morgues? Inside Out is one story behind the stereotypes – the autobiography of a young Native man, James Tyman, who grew up with racism, turned to crime and self-destruction, and ended up in jail. Repeatedly. At age 24, in prison for a two-year stretch, James Tyman realized he was going nowhere and began to wonder why. In six weeks he wrote Inside Out, a powerful record of his own voyages of self-discovery, and an open letter to the people of Canada telling how his life has been shaped – and almost ended – by troubling aspects of our society. James Tyman’s story raises important questions – about adoption of Native children into white families, about the legal and penal systems, about drugs, prostitution, and life on the street in Canada’s urban centres. First published in 1989, Inside Outbecame a national bestseller and earned critical acclaim across Canada.|
|van der Meulen, E.(Ed). (2018). From suffragette to homesteader: Exploring British and Canadian colonial histories and women’s politics through memoir. Fernwood Publishing.||In 1952, Ethel Marie Sentance wrote a memoir for her husband, Clarence. She gave it to him as a present for their fortieth wedding anniversary on August 19th of that year. The memoir begins in 1883 and details Ethel’s compelling story. Living in a small English village, Ethel became a suffragette in her early twenties after being frustrated with women’s inequality and lack of enfranchisement. She participated in meetings and rallies, sold suffrage newspapers and was eventually jailed for breaking a window at a protest. In 1912, she married and relocated to the Saskatchewan prairies to become a homesteader and settler. Ethel’s first-person account of her bisected life opens an extraordinary window into women’s history, activism and experiences in early twentieth-century England and Canada. Surrounding Ethel’s memoir are chapters written by leading scholars of women’s history that provide further analysis and context, exploring topics within and beyond those written about by Ethel. In this way, From Suffragette to Homesteader is a unique story of social justice advocacy, women’s and feminist histories, struggles for gender equality, and the farmworker and homesteader experience, while also being a story of the British Empire, race and class, colonialism and imperialism, and Indigenous/settler relations.|
|Wagamese, R. (2009). One native life. D & M Publishers.||In 2005, award-winning writer Richard Wagamese moved with his partner to a cabin outside Kamloops, B.C. In the crisp mountain air Wagamese felt a peace he’d seldom known before. Abused and abandoned as a kid, he’d grown up feeling there was nowhere he belonged. For years, only alcohol and moves from town to town seemed to ease the pain. In One Native Life , Wagamese looks back down the road he has travelled in reclaiming his identity and talks about the things he has learned as a human being, a man and an Ojibway in his fifty-two years. Whether he’s writing about playing baseball, running away with the circus, attending a sacred bundle ceremony or meeting Pierre Trudeau, he tells these stories in a healing spirit. Through them, Wagamese celebrates the learning journey his life has been. Free of rhetoric and anger despite the horrors he has faced, Wagamese’s prose resonates with a peace that has come from acceptance. Acceptance is an Aboriginal principle, and he has come to see that we are all neighbours here. One Native Life is his tribute to the people, the places and the events that have allowed him to stand in the sunshine and celebrate being alive.|
|Wakan, N.B. (2012). A roller-coaster ride: Thoughts on aging. Wolsak and Wynn.||Now past her eightieth birthday, Naomi Beth Wakan is well-placed to be writing about ageing. Qualifying between merely being old and old-old, she considers retirement homes, elder abuse, death and the often thorny question of what to call people once they’re past retirement. With humor and honesty she looks at the disconnect between how she sees herself and how the world sees her and concludes it’s this inner view that decides nearly everything about aging.|
|Waldstein Wilkes, H. (2010). Letters from the Lost: A Memoir of Discovery. Edmonton: Athabasca UP.||On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to get his wife and child out of Prague. Only letters from the rest of their family could follow as the Nazis closed in. Through the war years, letters arrived at the southern Ontario farm where Helen’s small family learned to be Canadian farmers, to speak English, and to forget they were Jewish.|
Helen did not notice when the letters stopped coming, but they surfaced intermittently until she couldn’t ignore them anymore. Reading the letters changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the trail of the letters back to Europe to find living witnesses of what the letters related. She has here interwoven their stories and her own in a compelling narrative of suffering and rescue, of survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles to dialogue about a traumatic past.
|Walker, J.S.G. & Jones, R. B. (2016). Burnley “Rocky” Jones Revolutionary. An autobiography by Burnley “Rocky” Jones. Fernwood Publishing.||A must read, a manual for all freedom fighters, and a testament to Rocky Jones and Black power and resilience. Afua Cooper Any telling of human rights and social equity in Canada would be incomplete without reference to revolutionary Rocky Jones truth-telling about his life captured in this compelling exemplary autobiography. This insightful account is not only about life as an African Nova Scotian, but also about the community, law, politics. Carl James Born and raised in Truro, Nova Scotia, Burnley Rocky Jones is one of Canada s most important figures of social justice. Often referred to as Canada s Stokely Carmichael, Jones was tirelessly dedicated to student movements, peace activism, Black Power, anti-racism, women s liberation and human rights reform. He was a leader in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, brought the Black Panthers to Canada, taught at Dalhousie and founded his own law firm. This autobiography tells the story of Jones s inimitable life and his accomplishments. But it also does more. It illuminates the Black experience in Nova Scotia, it explains the evolving nature of race relations and human rights in recent Canadian history, and it reveals the origins of the remedial approach to racial equality that is now practised by activists and governments. Finally, the story of Rocky Jones is a reminder that human rights are not a gift, but a prize that must be fought for.”|
|Wane, N (2019). From my mother’s back: A journey from Kenya to Canada. Wolsak and Wynn.||In this warm and honest memoir, celebrated academic Njoki Wane shares her journey from her parents’ small coffee farm in Kenya, where she helped her mother in the fields as a child, to her current work as a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Moving smoothly between time and place, Wane uses memories, painful and tender, to show how her early lessons and the support given by her family allowed her to succeed as a woman of colour in the academy, and to later lift up her students facing their own difficult journeys.|
|Wangersky, R. (2008). Burning down the house: Fighting fires and losing myself. Dundurn Press.||Eight years as volunteer firefighter can turn following a dream into a nightmare. Physical dangers and psychological costs all add up. The author tried to save strangers in fires, medical calls, and automobile accidents – CPR on a colleague’s father, and a fuel explosion.|
|Warner, A. (2018). Buffy Sainte-Marie: The authorized biography. Greystone Books||Folk hero. Rock icon. Living legend. Buffy Sainte-Marie is all of these things, and Greystone is proud to celebrate the incredible Cree singer-songwriter, activist, and educator with her authorized biography. For more than 50 years, Sainte-Marie has made her voice heard through her music, art, and activism, establishing herself among the ranks of folk greats such as Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan. She’s released more than twenty albums and ten singles, survived being blacklisted by two U.S. presidents, and has received countless accolades, including the only Academy Award ever to be won by a First Nations artist. Her most recent album, Power in the Blood (2015), won the Polaris Music Prize and two Juno Awards. But Sainte-Marie is so much more than a musician; she is also an entrepreneur, a pioneer in digital art, and an important cultural activist who has worked tirelessly advocating for and protecting Indigenous rights and freedoms. Her incredible contributions to society will be recognized when she receives the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award at the 2017 Juno Awards, and will also come to light in her forthcoming biography. Penned by leading music, culture, and feminist writer Andrea Warner, Buffy Sainte-Marie: An Authorized Biography will weave a powerful, intimate look at the life of a beloved artist and everything that she has accomplished in her 76 years (and counting).|
|Wearing, A. (2013). Confessions of a fairy’s daughter: Growing up with a gay dad. Random House.||A moving memoir about growing up with a gay father in the 1980s, and a tribute to the power of truth, humour, acceptance and familial love. Alison Wearing led a largely carefree childhood until she learned, at the age of 12, that her family was a little more complex than she had realized. Sure her father had always been unusual compared to the other dads in the neighbourhood he loved to bake croissants, wear silk pyjamas around the house, and skip down the street singing songs from Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But when he came out of the closet in the 1970s, when homosexuality was still a cardinal taboo, it was a shock to everyone in the quiet community of Peterborough, Ontario, especially to his wife and three children. Alison’s father was a professor of political science and amateur choral conductor, her mother was an accomplished pianist and marathon runner, and together they had fed the family a steady diet of arts, adventures, mishaps, normal frustrations, and inexhaustible laughter. Yet despite these agreeable circumstances, Joe’s internal life was haunted by conflicting desires. As he began to explore and understand the truth about himself, he became determined to find a way to live both as a gay man and also a devoted father, something almost unheard of at the time. Through extraordinary excerpts from his own letters and journals from the years of his coming out, we read of Joe’s private struggle to make sense and beauty of his life, to take inspiration from an evolving society and become part of the vanguard of the gay revolution in Canada. Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter is also the story of coming out as the daughter of a gay father. Already wrestling with an adolescent’s search for identity when her father came out of the closet, Alison promptly went in, concealing his sexual orientation from her friends and spinning extravagant stories about all of the great straight things they did together.|
|Webber, G. (2015). Dumb: Living without a voice. Fantagraphic Books||Part memoir, part medical cautionary tale, Dumb tells the story of how an urban twentysomething copes with the everyday challenges that come with voicelessness. Webber adroitly uses the comics medium to convey the practical hurdles she faced as well as the fear and dread that accompanied her increasingly lonely journey to regain her life. Her raw cartooning style, occasionally devolving into chaotic scribbles, splotches of ink, and overlapping montages, perfectly captures her frustration and anxiety. But her ordeal ultimately becomes a hopeful story. Throughout, she learns to lean on the support of her close friends, finds self-expression in creating comics, and comes to understand and appreciate how deeply her voice and identity are intertwined.|
|Weetaltuk, E. (2016). From the Tundra to the Trenches. Univ. of Manitoba Press.||“My name is Weetaltuk; Eddy Weetaltuk. My Eskimo tag name is E9-422.” So begins From the Tundra to the Trenches. Weetaltuk means “innocent eyes” in Inuktitut, but to the Canadian government, he was known as E9-422: E for Eskimo, 9 for his community, 422 to identify Eddy.|
In 1951, Eddy decided to leave James Bay. Because Inuit weren’t allowed to leave the north, he changed his name and used this new identity to enlist in the Canadian Forces; Edward Weetaltuk, E9-422, became Eddy Vital, SC-17515, and headed off to fight in the Korean War.
In 1967, after fifteen years in the Canadian Forces, Eddy returned home. He worked with Inuit youth struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, and, in 1974, started writing his life’s story. This compelling memoir traces an Inuk’s experiences of world travel and military service. Looking back on his life, Weetaltuk wanted to show young Inuit that they can do and be what they choose.
From the Tundra to the Trenches is the fourth book in the First Voices, First Texts series, which publishes lost or underappreciated texts by Indigenous writers. This new English edition of Eddy Weetaltuk’s memoir includes a foreword by Thibault Martin and an introduction by Isabelle St-Amand.
|Wilkes, H. W. (2010). Letters from the lost: A memoir of discovery. Athabasca University Press.||On March 15, 1939, Helen Waldstein’s father snatched his stamped exit visa from a distracted clerk to get his wife and child out of Prague. Only letters from the rest of their family could follow as the Nazis closed in. Through the war years, letters arrived at the southern Ontario farm where Helen’s small family learned to be Canadian farmers, to speak English, and to forget they were Jewish. Helen did not notice when the letters stopped coming, but they surfaced intermittently until she couldn’t ignore them anymore. Reading the letters changed everything. As her past refused to keep silent, Helen followed the trail of the letters back to Europe to find living witnesses of what the letters related. She has here interwoven their stories and her own in a compelling narrative of suffering and rescue, of survivor guilt, and overcoming intergenerational obstacles to dialogue about a traumatic past.|
|Wong, L. (2018). The Woo-Woo. Arsenal Pulp Press||In this jaw-dropping, darkly comedic memoir, a young woman comes of age in a dysfunctional Asian family whose members blamed their woes on ghosts and demons when in fact they should have been on anti-psychotic meds. Lindsay Wong grew up with a paranoid schizophrenic grandmother and a mother who was deeply afraid of the “woo-woo”–Chinese ghosts who come to visit in times of personal turmoil. From a young age, she witnessed the woo-woo’s sinister effects; at the age of six, she found herself living in the food court of her suburban mall, which her mother saw as a safe haven because they could hide there from dead people, and on a camping trip, her mother tried to light Lindsay’s foot on fire to rid her of the woo-woo. The eccentricities take a dark turn, however, when her aunt, suffering from a psychotic breakdown, holds the city of Vancouver hostage for eight hours when she threatens to jump off a bridge. And when Lindsay herself starts to experience symptoms of the woo-woo herself, she wonders whether she will suffer the same fate as her family. On one hand a witty and touching memoir about the Asian immigrant experience, and on the other a harrowing and honest depiction of the vagaries of mental illness, The Woo-Woo is a gut-wrenching and beguiling manual for surviving family, and oneself.|
|Ye, T. X. (2010). Throwaway Daughter. Seal books.||Throwaway Daughter tells the dramatic and moving story of Grace Dong-mei Parker, a typical Canadian teenager until the day she witnesses the Tiananmen massacre on television. Horrified, she sets out to explore her Chinese ancestry, only to discover that she was one of the thousands of infant girls abandoned in China since the introduction of the one-child policy, strictly enforced by the Communist government. But Grace was one of the lucky ones, adopted as a baby by a loving Canadian couple.|
With the encouragement of her adoptive parents, she studies Chinese and travels back to China in search of her birth mother. She manages to locate the village where she was born, but at first no one is willing to help her. However, Grace never gives up and, finally, she is reunited with her birth mother, discovering through this emotional bond the truth of what happened to her almost twenty years before.