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Canadian Literature

A guide to Canadian Literature

Indigenous Literature

There is a wide range of Indigenous literatures around the world as well as in Canada, and many Indignenous communities and traditional territories from the Atlantic to the Pacific to the Arctic and beyond. Dalhousie University is located in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq.

The map tool below can provide information on Indigenous territories, languages, and treaties around the world. 

 

If you would like to become familiar with Indigenous authors and their works of fiction, poetry, or drama, you may want to start with an anthology. Anthologies can be useful sources for literature because they contain many works on one theme. Here are some examples of anthologies in Novanet that would be useful as sources of Indigenous literature. 

Notable Indigenous Authors

There are many Indigenous authors (fiction or non-fiction), poets, and playwrights living coast to coast. Click on a name below to see which of the author's works is available in Novanet:

Local Mi'kmaq authors:

Rita Joe - wrote poetry about Indigenous identity and residential schools

Lindsay Marshall - his poetry is about Mi'kmaq heritage and his life

Isabelle Knockwood - her non-fiction book recounts experiences at the residential school in Shubenacadie, NS

Daniel Paul - writes about First Nations history in Eastern Canada and Mi'kmaq culture

Alan Sylliboy - a multimedia artist, illustrator, and writer, his works range from paintings to storybooks inspired by Mi'kmaq petroglyphs 

Marie Battiste - writes non-fiction books about Indigenous knowledge and education

Ruth Holmes Whitehead - writes history and ethnography, and collects stories of Mi'kmaq people

Other Indigenous authors: 

Eden Robinson - a member of the Haisla and Heiltsuk First Nations, she writes short stories and novels with speculative and gothic elements

Tomson Highway - a Cree playwright, author, and songwriter of the Barren Lands First Nation, best known for his play The Rez Sisters

Jónína Kirton - a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet and author, her poetry challenges sexual and feminine norms

Lee Maracle - a Sto:lo writer whose work explores issues facing Indigenous women

Richard Wagamese - an Ojibwe from Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, he wrote fiction and non-fiction on the legacy of residential schools 

David Alexander Robertson - a member of Norway House Cree Nation, he writes novels, graphic novels, and children's books

Katherena Vermette - a  Métis writer and poet whose work is motivated by a passion for activism on First Nations' issues

Cherie Dimaline - a Métis novelist and short story writer whose works critique colonialism and focus on the land

Richard Van Camp - a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation, he writes novels, short stories, children's books, and graphic novels

Leanne Simpson - a Michi Saagig Nishnaabeg scholar and writer, her work combines politics, song, and story

Joshua Whitehead - a two-spirit, Oji-Cree member of the Peguis First Nation, his poetry and novel explore queer Indigenous identities

 

This list is by no means exhaustive! For more suggestions, see this CBC article of 108 recommended Indigenous authors, or this one by Jónína Kirton that recommends 14 Indigenous women to read. You can also look at the featured book section on our Indigenous Studies guide. 

More Literary Resources

Research

Indigenous research refers not only to research about Indigenous peoples, but also research by Indigenous people. Incorporating Indigenous perspectives on knowing and learning can strengthen any research project. Check out some of the links below for information on research ethics and methods. For more information, Dalhousie also has a separate subject guide for Indigenous Studies with many more suggestions for reading on Indigenous research methodologies. 

Databases

Primary Sources

Related Guides