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I Am Not a Number

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  589 ratings  ·  137 reviews
When eight-year-old Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school she is confused, frightened, and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from, despite the efforts of the nuns who are in charge at the school and who tell her that she is not to use her own name but instead use the number they have assigned to ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Second Story Press
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4.32  · 
Rating details
 ·  589 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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David Schaafsma
I am Not a Number is yet another contribution to the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation work, a picture book based on the experience of Irene Couchie Dupuis, grandmother to the author, Jenny Kay Dupuis. The Dupuis family is part of the Nipissing First Nation. Jenny’s Grandmother was forcibly taken from her family and placed in a de-Indianizing Residential School. These schools operated for over 100 years in Canada and the U.S. The last Canadian residential school closed, not in 1896, but in 1996! ...more
May 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
"How could I possibly forget my parents? How could I possibly forget who I was?"

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"Back home, long hair was a source of pride. We cut it when we lost a loved one. Now it felt as if a part of me was dying with every strand that fell."

I was totally oblivious to the part of history that involved the Canadian Indian residential school system. Apparently during the 19th/20th century Indigenous kids from Canada were sent to these bording schools with the intent of being educated as to be equals to thei
I Am Not A Number tells the story of Jenny Kay Dupuis' grandmother Irene. Set in the 1920s, Irene is taken away from her family, and forced to endure horrible conditions and abuse in the Canadian residential school system.

Stunningly told, and with stunning illustrations, I Am Not A Number is absolutely worth reading, especially as an introductory book for information on a difficult subject. Although it is a picture book, it definitely isn't intended for small children, and might be more appropri
When she is eight, Irene Couchie and her two brothers are forced to leave their home in Northern Ontariop to attend a boarding school. The author refers to it as "kidnapping," and in many respects it is. There the Anishinaabe girl endures all manner of cruel treatment at the hands of the nuns who run the school. Not only is she given a number rather than a name, thus attempting to erase her individuality, but she also is punished for using her own language, has her hair cut, and is burned with h ...more
Cheriee Weichel
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book matters to me.

I have friends who survived their own residential school school experiences. They are also survivors of dysfunctional families created because their elders and previous generations were dragged from their families and forced to attend one of these institutions.

The last residential school in Canada didn't close until 1996. I Am Not A Number is the true story of Irene Couchie Dupuis, grandmother to the author, Jenny Kay Dupuis. When Irene was eight years old, an Indian ag
This is a very short children's book about Canadian's treatment of Native Americans (if you think of American as the continent).

It's meant for an age bracket younger than those who would read Island of the Blue Dolphins.

An important book for any young reader to become aware of how the world does not get along racially.

The illustrations that accompany the story are marvelous. Heartily recommended.

My free reader's copy had an extensive afterword written for adults that I found very interesting.
Nada Loughead
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What a great way to introduce a difficult subject to children. Insightful and thought provoking.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
My heart ached for this First Nations (native Canadian) girl, who looks so unhappy throughout the book. The way these children were treated at the residential schools was appalling. It reminded me of how the Jews were treated in the concentration camps. The white people tried to strip these children of their native identity. Based on co-author Kacer's grandmother's experience, the text vividly describes it all. At the end of the book is more information on the residential school, including a pho ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Based on the author's grandmother's harsh experiences at a residential school in Canada. Don't miss the additional author's note in the back.
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received an arc from Netgalley.

This is an excellent way to introduce young children to the history of the residential schools. It is a moving story of one young girl who is sent away from home, and her father's fierce love of his children. It would be an excellent addition to any school or home library.
Selina Young
Feb 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous
This is a must read in classrooms and homes across Canada. Very well written and illustrated telling of the horrible truth of residential schools. Kids need to know so we have a better world for them and their kids. Shows the deep love of family, culture and home.
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
At the age of 8, Irene and her two brothers are taken away from their parents and sent to a residential school, not because of neglect or poverty but in a misguided effort to "civilize" the indigenous people by teaching them the "proper way" to live.

Separated from even her siblings, Irene loses everything: family, her hair, and even a name. Known instead as student 759, she has to endure the harsh discipline and isolation throughout the school year.

This is well designed to engage elementary chi
Carla Johnson-Hicks
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book tore at my heart. The residential schools were a black mark on Canadian History as well as the Christian Church. To tear children away from their families and force them to live a life that is completely unfamiliar to them is awful enough, but to tell them their language, life, beliefs etc. were evil is devastating. I cried as I read this story about young Irene Couchie and her brothers. The way she was treated was despicable. It is no wonder so many Native Canadians had/have mental he ...more
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is an amazing book. It is written simply and too the point, based on the life of the author's grandmother.

In the United State, Australia, and Canada, and perhaps other places as well, the Indigenous people were removed from their homes and families and forced to become "white". They were forbidden to speak their native tongue, forbidden to eat their food, and forbidden to have any contact with their families.

The author's grandmother was one such child in 1928, in Canada. She and her bothers
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I will begin by saying that my review just can't begin to do this book justice. I just don't have the words. It's heartbreaking, especially because it is real and did such damage. It is the true story of a young First Nations child who was taken from her family and sent to a residential school where she was forced to speak in English and where she was terribly mistreated. Now go read the actual book...
falling asleep reading
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Heartbreaking and unfortunately very, very accurate.
Tibby (she/her)
This was the book I read to my daughter the day after the election. I decided it was important for her to start learning the history of how Native Nations have been treated over the years. It isn’t necessarily a new conversation with her, but I think this was one of the most real. Her newest thing is to ask, is this a true story? And this one is.

I can’t say the book is a beautiful story, but it is a beautiful book. It tackles a dark and difficult topic. Irene and two of her brothers are sent off
Susanne Aspley
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The way Native Americans have been treated in the past is something that needs to be taught to children now. It’s not easy to read about. It is, however the facts. I am not a Number offers a valuable lesson in history in a simple and profound way.

In I Am Not A Number, Irene’s parents, like many Native parents, were coerced into giving up their children. In Canada, in 1928, Dupuis's grandmother, Irene Couchie Dupuis, was taken to a residential school in Canada. These were schools designed to "civ
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Based on the true story of the author’s grandmother, this picture book captures the experience of First Nations people in Canada being sent to boarding schools. Under threat of fines and jail time, First Nation parents were forced to give their children up to the government. When Irene is taken to her new home, she tries to never forget her real home, her parents and their way of life. Irene is called only by a number at the school and told to scrub the brown off of her skin. Her hair is cut off ...more
Janice Forman
This book is in a recommended reading list for Aboriginal Resources for young people. I decided that I would read all the books in the list -- for my own interest and simply to take a look at the reading information available to young readers.

"I Am Not a Number" is based on the true story of Jenny Kay Dupuis' grandmother, Irene Couchie Dupuis, who along with her brothers was sent to a Residential School in Northern Ontario.

This is a powerful picture book revealing the story of so many aborigina
Maria Marshall
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With the last Canadian residential school closing in 1996, I AM NOT A NUMBER offers elementary and middle school teachers a sensitive tool for opening a discussion on this recent facet of history. The text, accompanied by the muted brown, yellow, and white tones of the illustrations, reflect the seriousness of the events, without being overbearing. The author and illustrator deal with the material in a gentle matter-of-fact way, enabling younger children to understand and giving older children a ...more
Patricia Tilton
Dec 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am Not a Number is based on the true story of co-author Dr. Jenny Kay Dupuis’ grandmother, Irene Couchie Dupuis, an Anishinaabe women who was born into a First Nation community in Northern Ontario. It is profound story that offers a penetrating look at how Indigenous children were taken away from their families and put into residential schools run by religious groups and forced to forget about their language, customs and heritage. It isn’t an easy subject to broach, but the story is told with ...more
Tiz. T.
This is a great book to introduce children to the subject of Residential School and the attempt cultural genocide of the First Nations People of Canada.

The book is written in a clear, simple language which is clearly understandable. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful and poignant, and help bring the point across.

The book is made for younger children, and would make a marvelous read even for a eight year old or a bright seven years old, maybe with parents who could explain them what happe
Heart-breaking. Wonderfully presented for a young audience, this book tells the story of the author's grandmother and her experience at a residential school in Canada for native children in the early 20th century. She and two of her brothers were forced to leave their family and live at a Catholic residential school were they were terribly abused and mistreated by the nuns. One of the dark spots on the history of the Church, and the history of the Americas. Well written and illustrated, with bac ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picture-books
This is an important part of history that is not talked about enough, and this book, while difficult, does a wonderful job telling an often forgotten story. The Canadian residential schools are as much of a horrible part of history as the U.S. treatment of indigenous peoples. I read this with my 9-year old, and that is probably about the right age for it. It is long and horrifying, but it is in a picture book format, which is really my only critique of it. It looks like it is for a younger audie ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Orange Shirt Day is September 30 in memory of the children who died at the Indian Residential Schools and survived the cultural genocide. In that light, I am immersing myself in stories on this topic.

This book tells the story of one survivor out of the 150,000 that attended these horrible places. It is powerful and poignant and worth reading.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a very tough subject - the Residential Schools that Native American children were forced into - but what a beautiful and touching memoir!

There's also a more in depth afterward with more information about the Canadian Residential Schools.
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-educators
This is a must-read for all educators as a stand alone or partner text and a definite recommendation for parents to share with their children. This is another horrific side of American and Canadian histories that is frequently overlooked, and this book provides a way of explaining it to younger children.
This book has great illustrations and story. There are so many tragic stories about residential schools. In this one, the parents took a stand and their plan succeeded. I am sure some parents did the same but their child was still taken and they were sent to jail for defending their kids.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very important and sad story of what life was really like in a residential school in Canada for the author's grandmother, Irene Couchie, and how Irene's dad kept her and her brothers from being sent back. The art is lovely, and very empathetic, keeping young Irene at the center of every portrait.
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Play Book Tag: I am Not A Number - 4 stars (children's historical fiction) 1 8 Jul 22, 2016 08:22PM  
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