The Bookshelf: Celebrating Indigenous Authors

Saturday April 30 is Authors for Indies Day. This is a Canada-wide event where authors show their appreciation for independent bookstores by engaging with book lovers of all kinds.  We are exceeding grateful for this wonderful show of support and also for the many stories, poems and plays that our favourite writers gift to us.

Last year we had an abundance of interest and conversation with Tom King, Clifford Jackman, Barbara Kyle, Charmian Christie, Stephen Henighan, Jean Little, Pamela Mordecai and Douglas Davey.

This year we are inspired by the fact that Canadians are showing growing awareness about the importance of building new and meaningful relationships with our First Nations, Metis and Inuit brothers and sisters. So it is with this in mind that we celebrate Authors for Indies Day with indigenous authors of all ages and their author allies.

Our journey begins on Saturday April 30 at 10:00 am and will follow traditional ceremonies which include land acknowledgment, smudging, drumming and song. We will be using an Indigenous traditional way of learning where there is time, a place and space for families to hear stories and discuss insights and teachings as a community. You may find young Indigenous writers reading in the art section or traditional drummers on the patio. If you go upstairs there may be Indigenous authors speaking of their experience with residential schools or the land they live on and love.

At 1:30 pm in the cinema you will find Guelph’s acclaimed writer Thomas King. Tom’s book The Inconvenient Indian has won an unprecedented number of prizes as well as being one of our most popular books. He will be joined by author ally, John Ralston Saul, whose superb book The Comeback has been called “the most powerful indictment I’ve read by a non-Aboriginal person of our ongoing indifference to Ottawa’s refusal to settle the biggest unresolved issue of our time.” —Toronto Star

My own journey into this historical injustice did begin with The Comeback. I was constantly underlining and writing notes in the margin. I was amazed by the number of times that both Federal and Provincial Supreme Courts have ruled in favour of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples. I was shocked by the disregard of the Department of “Indian” Affairs in addressing the needs of Indigenous Peoples and overwhelmed by the integrity and determination of Indigenous peoples throughout the last centuries.

I then read Leanne Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love. This complex and beautiful book is arresting. There is not a word out of place. I need to read her other books. Medicine Walk by Richard Wagamese contained a depth that I had not experienced in a long time. It did bring me to tears but also has forced me to reignite my love of the outdoors. Lastly I am still exploring An Illustrated History of Canada’s Native People by Arthur J. Ray. Again, my pen is on the page as I read. There is so much to learn.

In 1971 Chief David Courchene said “We ask for assistance for the good of all Canada and as a moral obligation resulting from injustice in the past, but such assistance must be based upon this understanding. If this can be done, we shall continue to commit ourselves to a spirit of cooperation.”

We welcome people of all ages on Saturday April 30 to come in this spirit of understanding and cooperation.

The original bookstore was hatched by Barb and Doug Minett. Ben and Hannah Minett are now owners and are supported tremendously by their long time staff of book and film lovers. There is over 200 years of cumulative bookselling experience, and if there ever were a spare moment, producing a TV show about a day in the life of The Bookshelf would be pretty entertaining.

41 Quebec Street
Guelph, ON
N1H 2T1
Phone:(519) 821-3311