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I Am Not a Number

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,119 ratings  ·  271 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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Average rating 4.39  · 
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Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
2021 is going to be the year where I actually track my picture book reads. This was definitely a great one to start with.

I Am Not a Number is a picture book based on the life of Irene Couchie who was sent to a Canadian Residential school. These schools were designed to remove First Nations children from their homes and their families in an attempt to "assimilate" them into white Canadian cultural expectations. I've been learning more about these schools from other books, but this specific book g
MissBecka Gee
I think the author did a wonderful job telling this heartbreaking truth.
She relayed the terrible circumstances these children faced while still making it easy enough to be shared with & digested by children.

There are more details about the residential schools in the back of the book to further educate yourself and your tiny humans.
Thank you NetGalley and Second Story Press for my DRC.
Dave 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
La Coccinelle
Books like this don't exactly make one proud to be Canadian. The dehumanizing measures that were taken against innocent children are difficult to read about.

However, books like this are important. This one tells the story of Irene Couchie (grandmother of one of the authors) and her year spent in a residential school where she was stripped of her name (the children were known only by numbers), her hair, and her language. The children were half starved, and regularly abused as a form of discipline
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 t
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
Illustrations by Gillian Newland
Translation by Muriel Sawyer and Geraldine McLeod
Contributions by Tory Fisher

Disclaimer: I received a digital version of this book via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. The book, however, had been on my tbr shelf as the English only edition has been out since 2016. Additionally, I cannot speak to the accuracy of the translation into Nishnaabemwin (Ojibwe) Nbisiing dialect.

Shortly before I got approved for this galley, The Final Report of Nationa
Canadian Reader
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jenny Kay Dupuis writes in the first person (in the voice of her grandmother as a child) to tell how (in 1928) little Irene, aged eight, and her two young brothers were taken from their home on the Nipissing First Nation Reserve, just west of North Bay, Ontario. Their father was threatened with jail if he didn’t hand over the children to the Indian agent. Resigned and grieved, he and the children’s mother watched as the Canadian government representative drove off with them. It would have been a ...more
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
Gina Mogen
May 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Devastating. An important story to know and share.
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. ...more
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. ...more
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
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2,5/5. Another case of book that seem unsure for who it was written. The format of the book make you think it was intent for young children, but the «hard» subject and the quantity of text make you think otherwise. I like what the book is trying to do, but the unbalanced work made me lose a lot of interest in it unfortunately...
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... ...more
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 "ci
I don't think I will ever understand, and actually I hope I don't, how people in charge of children can be so mean to them, so completely lacking in compassion and understanding. I get it that they thought their culture was superior and that the Native children needed to learn the white culture, but I don't understand why they have to "teach" them in such a punitive and harmful way.

And, though this book is historical, talking about the way the Native children were taken away from their families
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
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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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