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Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada

(The Debwe Series)

4.69  ·  Rating details ·  680 ratings  ·  139 reviews
Delgamuukw. Sixties Scoop. Bill C-31. Blood quantum. Appropriation. Two-Spirit. Tsilhqot’in. Status. TRC. RCAP. FNPOA. Pass and permit. Numbered Treaties. Terra nullius. The Great Peace…

Are you familiar with the terms listed above? In Indigenous Writes, Chelsea Vowel, legal scholar, teacher, and intellectual, opens an important dialogue about these (and more) concepts and
Paperback, 290 pages
Published September 1st 2016 by HighWater Press
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Average rating 4.69  · 
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Kara Babcock
Sometimes you see a book and you just know that it’s the book you’ve been waiting for. That was my reaction when Chelsea Vowel, who blogs and tweets as âpihtawikosisân, announced Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Issues in Canada. You really should read her blog and follow her, because she her writing is clear and informative, and she is excellent at providing further resources. This continues in her book. I was extremely excited to get my hands on a copy, because it ...more
Rachel Hartman
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE book for getting started understanding Indigenous issues in Canada. Highly recommended.
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
What is an "American Indian"? Seems like an easy enough question. And I am sure we all have an idea in our mind.

And we are probably all wrong.

This book. This book should be read by everyone. It should be read by Canadians. It should be read by Americans. The rest of the world can read it too, if they want. The point is, this book breaks down and explains to the "settlers", to the children of colonialists, to the non-indigenous what Indigenous peoples are. And as Chelsea says:
The Canadian governm
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Essential if you're going to write about, read about, or live in Canada :) The tone was just right. The footnotes are a treasure. I need to buy a copy to have on hand. ...more
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this book. There is so much information here, which is why it took me a while to get through it and process everything. I'll probably come back to it again when I need to recall the information. For someone who has mainly been immersed my whole life in the Western/colonial worldview there is definitely some retraining of my brain that needs to happen - more than once I would find myself reading and thinking "I don't really get why that's so bad" and then coming back ...more
Aug 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was a real eye-opener. I, like so many non-Canadians, have this rose-tinted view of Canada as a beacon of hope, sanity and humanity and I think it's too easy to forget that Canada's colonial history has left plenty of scars and heartache behind, especially for indigenous Canadians.
The author has an engaging, accessible style of writing with deft touches of humour thrown in for good measure. The book covers a broad range of topics well, but it doesn't read as if the major subjects are
Friederike Knabe
Chelsea Vowel's book is, as the subtitle suggests, a study into First Nations, Metis and Inuit issues in Canada. It is a well presented tool for interested Canadians (and others) into indigenous languages, definitions of concepts, cultural traditions and wider political context. It is not a book you read from a-to-z in one go. Rather you select a chapter at the time and absorb its important substance. You will want to refer to it from time to time again and again. It is very well written and mai ...more
Kaeli Wood
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing book. It was incredibly helpful, informational, broad in the scope and number of issues it tackled but not overwhelmingly so. And extremely accessible! It really is, as it says, a "guide." Perfect for academics and just regular joes who want to read some quality nonfiction and understand the world a little better. After reading this, I learned about a lot of things I had never heard of before, and also got to understand things I HAD heard of but had always been kind of fuzzy a ...more
Nov 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To read more reviews check out MI Book Reviews.

I got an ARC of this audiobook.

This book is sixteen hours long. This is just the beginning. This book only can cover so much, but it covers SO MUCH. I was often overwhelmed with how little I knew. This book should be mandatory reading. This book changed my entire view of a country and made me question more about history and current politics. Did Charles Dickens do that? No.

The author is wonderful. Her personality shows through and she is the sort of
Witty, ultra-readable, and informative primer that does what it says on the tin (provides a guide to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit issues in Canada), but is so much more. I read a library copy but will buy my own and urge others to do the same, because it's incredibly helpful in providing necessary background to many important ongoing challenges. I also want to chase down many of the sources referenced in the thorough and helpful endnotes. I realize the foregoing doesn't make it sound very exc ...more
Dec 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An essential read for any Canadian: direct, engaging, nuanced, rigourous, persuasive, damning. And since nothing much has changed in Canada's policies toward Indigenous persons in the last 5 years (although legislative developments such as Bill C-92 could be a step in the right in direction), the key issues raised in this book, from housing to education, remain completely and dishearteningly relevant. ...more
I feel like everyone needs to read this. or at least all us settler Canadians. I thought I knew stuff of indigenous issues because I knew about Residential Schools and the "Sixties Scoop" and the Highway of Tears but I knew so little! I know a tiny bit more, and hopefully after a get to some of the resources Vowel points to at the end of each chapter I'll be a little more knowledgeable about stuff. ...more
Kristine Morris
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous
You should read this book. When you first get it, it looks a bit like a, dare I say it, boring academic textbook, but looks can be deceiving. The chapters range from 5-8 pages each. Perhaps author Chelsea Vowel recognizes that, nowadays, our attention span and desire to read anything longer than it takes to drink a latte is seriously compromised. Thank you for being succinct! The author often frames the discussion as if she is having a conversation with you directly; she gives you facts, why the ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This was an excellent book written by a well-versed blogger and Tweeter. She is a Metis woman who has studied both law and education. She's lived in both Edmonton and Montreal. The book is written in a series of short chapters that are about the same length as blog posts. It's written in a plain speak, blog-like manner. Vowel debunks a lot of the myths about Indigenous Canada. If someone around you has ever made derogatory comments about indigenous people, and you want to counteract them with ha ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading. Clear, compelling, profoundly informative, with lots and lots of "read more" endnotes in every chapter. Also funny and just generally easy and fun to read.

Seriously - essential reading for any settler Canadian who wants to know what they can do to advance reconciliation. Education and deep understanding is a critical first step. This book is hugely helpful in getting there and getting past surface understanding, stereotypes, and myths about First Nations in Canada.

Every Canadian needs to know the information contained in this book.
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is incredible and so easy to get through for such heavy topics. Thank you Chelsea vowel for this gift of a book. Everyone should read it.
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you’re looking for a primer on the issues that face Canadian Indigenous peoples, this is a great place to start. Using a conversational style, Vowel unpacks a lot of what’s going on in Canada right now. In the introduction, she tells her readers that a lot of this book comes from conversations that she had with white friends while she was in law school. To that end, she addresses a lot of myths and misconceptions that range from the benign to the actively harmful.

This is easy to read, and eas
Sarah King
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5 stars - I know I’m reading a good book when I get itchy for highlighters and sticky notes so I can mark all the passages I want to come back to. But, then again, if I did that with this book, I’d mark every single passage. Every settler Canadian should read this book and keep it on hand to help respond to every bigoted, racist, ignorant comment about Indigenous folks we encounter. This is a real manual for true allyship, with digestible and tangible information about the colonial past and pres ...more
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Canadian curriculum failed to teach me Indigenous issues. Everything written here about the Inuit was 100% new to me. I learned so much. Thanks to introductory native studies and Metis studies from university, I kept up with those topic chapters. I still learned a lot about how I might maintain a stable, assertive, conversation with a...racist?
The satire was a bit much in some chapters but I understand how exasperating it can be to explain human rights as something Indigenous peoples deserv
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indigenous
There's a lot of information packed in here, but Vowel writes in a style that's conversational and easy to read. I can't recommend this highly enough. I grew up in Southern Manitoba (Treaty 1 territory) and I like to think I've been paying attention, but I was saddened by how much of this book was new to me. ...more
Jenna (Falling Letters)
Review originally published 19 December 2017 at Falling Letters.

I followed Vowel on Twitter for some time before I picked up her book. If you’re new to learning about Indigenous experiences, her Twitter feed may seem overwhelming. Not so her book Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nation, Inuit, and Métis Issues in Canada. Vowel writes in a casual, conversational tone and doesn’t assume the reader to be familiar with the topics she explores.  Although the cover looks somewhat textbook-y, this b
Nick Carraway LLC
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
1) "For the most part, when I do need to refer specifically to 'the non-Indigenous peoples living in Canada who form the European-descended sociopolitical majority,' I've decided on the term settler. I feel it is the most accurate relational term and helps to keep the conversation more focused than the term White.
[...] I pointed out that I feel settler is a relational term, rather than a racial category, which is another way in which it is more useful. Since I have chosen this term, I suppose I
Big Al
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Amazing resource, especially if you are new to a lot of these topics. Should be used as a textbook for all Canadian high school students!
Elaine Corden
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Chelsea Vowel writes with an engaging, lively, and authoritative voice that is easy and fun to read. Despite this dealing with some very dark and disturbing aspects of Canada's past and present treatment of Indigenous, Metis and Inuit peoples, this book is ultimately uplifting, as it truly works hard to create a safe space for the reader to interrogate their own misconceptions. Vowel anticipates reader criticisms and resolves them with compassion, generosity, and facts, taking care to provide re ...more
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredibly important book for all Canadians. Accessible to the newbie but detailed and well-researched enough to provide valuable new information and resources to those who think they already know it all. If you want to learn more about our relationship with Indigenous peoples but don’t know where to start - start here. This book is a take down of just about every myth about Indigenous peoples I have ever heard and the definitive resource for arguing with your racist uncle. The inform ...more
Vowel is a very talented writer & has amassed a great many very important topics into a single book which is both terribly vital to read & comprehend, while at the same time being utterly enjoyable to read. This is a book which I will be rereading in the future & encourage everyone to take a moment to read this book.
Wether you are a member of a First Nation, a Métis or Inuit community, or not, this piece of work should be read by all.

Thank you to NetGalley, ECW Press Audio, & Chelse
Emory Black
This book was easy to read, although the topics are not as easy. It's broken down into sections about various areas that the Canadian settler-state needs to work on in regards to its treatment/relationships with Indigenous peoples. I learned a lot and could also see many parallels between the Canadian and Australian contexts. I think that even if you're not in Canada this is still an important read. ...more
Janet Hutchinson
A clearly written and informative book. I'm pretty sure that I am simply scratching the surface of understanding. But her essays (succinct and wryly humorous in parts) seek to set out the issues and tackle them one by one. Excellent resources at the end of each chapter that, should you want to delve deeper into a topic,will let you do so. ...more
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Informative, challenging, and honestly often funny, this book offers a wide-ranging overview of many of the issues facing indigenous peoples in Canada, and is lovingly footnoted to hell to point people towards further reading.
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Chelsea Vowel is Métis from manitow-sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne) Alberta where she and her family currently reside. She has a BEd and LLB and is mother to three girls, step-mother of two more.

Chelsea is a public intellectual, writer and educator whose work intersects language, gender, Métis self-determination and resurgence. She has worked directly with First Nations researching self-government, part

Other books in the series

The Debwe Series (7 books)
  • Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water
  • The Gift Is in the Making: Anishinaabeg Stories
  • Three Feathers
  • A Blanket of Butterflies
  • The Stone Collection
  • Fire Starters

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27 likes · 16 comments
“Canadians who do recognize historical injustice seem to understand it in this way:

Bad things happened.
Bad things stopped happening and equality was achieved.
The low social and political status held by Indigenous peoples is now wholly based on the choice to be corrupt, lazy, inefficient, and unsuited to the modern world.”
More quotes…