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Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  6,967 ratings  ·  1,043 reviews
In 1966, twelve-year-old Chanie Wenjack froze to death on the railway tracks after running away from residential school. An inquest was called and four recommendations were made to prevent another tragedy. None of those recommendations were applied.

More than a quarter of a century later, from 2000 to 2011, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Paperback, 376 pages
Published September 30th 2017 by House of Anansi Press
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Berry Absolutely appropiate. All Canadians should read this book.

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Kara Babcock
Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City is one of those books I wish didn’t exist but am so grateful it does. Over the past few years, I’ve seen my city come up in the national media from time to time—and often related to Indigenous issues, such as the deaths or inquests of the students in this book. But after the interest in those stories dies down, and the spotlight of the press turns away, life in this city goes on. Nothing really changes. Tanya Talaga, by inv ...more
Kate Olson
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hands down one of the most important nonfiction books I have ever read. It's also one that I encourage every single resident of the US and Canada to read, whether or not it's a book you WANT to read. While it is about the Seven Fallen Feathers (mysterious deaths of Indigenous teens in Thunder Bay), it's so so much more. It's about the crimes against the First Nations, it's about attempts at reconciliation between Canada and the victims of the Indian boarding schools, and most of all, it brings t ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
To understand the stories of the seven lost students who are the subjects of this book, the seven “fallen feathers”, you must understand Thunder Bay's past, how the seeds of division, of acrimony and distaste, of a lack of cultural awareness and understanding, were planted in those early days, and how they were watered and nourished with misunderstanding and ambivalence. And you must understand how the government of Canada has historically underfunded education and health services for Indigen
Mikey B.
This is a sad account of Canada’s Indigenous population (also referred to as First Nations) and how they are currently treated by the Canadian Government, local governments and the bulk of the Canadian people.

The author strongly suggests there is a cultural divide between Indigenous People and the rest of Canada.

Let me first introduce the setting of this book which is in Western Ontario. The book focuses mostly on an Indigenous high school in the town of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior with a (metr
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tanya Talaga is pissed off. She's pissed at how Canada and its different forms of 170 plus years of government has systemically crushed and debilitated its Indigenous, and how it is very much still alive in Canada's society today.

She does a masterful job chapter by chapter, piece by piece, example after example describing in very readable detail how the blatantly racist treaties that Ontario First Nations were forced to sign and comply to are still very much in effect today within the Indigenous
Winner, 2018 RBC Taylor Prize

Winner, 2017 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

Winner, First Nation Communities Read Indigenous Literature Award

Finalist, 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction

Finalist, 2017 Speaker’s Book Award

Finalist, 2018 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction

A Globe And Mail Top 100 Book

A National Post 99 Best Book Of The Year

The list above is impressive, after all this is the journalist Tanya Talaga’s debut about the deaths of sev
I had high hopes for Seven Fallen Feathers because I was looking forward to a book shedding light on a tragic and hugely under-reported situation. Talaga tells a very important story; however, I was frustrated by the poor writing and inconsistencies in the text.

I found the generalizations troubling: "ask any Indigenous person and they will..." or "any Indigenous person will tell you..." I find it difficult to reconcile a narrative that at once demands respect of the diversity of Indigenous cult
Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

Tamra Jewel Keepness.

Name doesn’t ring a bell to many people here in the United States. In 2004, the five-year member of Whitebear First Nation went missing from her family home in Reinga. She has never been found. I only know about because I was in Montreal shortly after she was reported missing, when the story was showed on Canadian news. I remember thinking at the time that it such coverage seemed to be different than that of the US, were the only people who see
A Very Necessary Book

I wish I could rate this book higher than I have. The accounts certainly need to be told. However, it was at times hard to follow, because of some clunky writing and poor grammar. I don’t necessarily expect everyone to write well and correctly, but I don’t think that it’s an unreasonable expectation that a professional writer should, for example, be able to know how to use a reflexive pronoun.
All in all, I’m glad I read it, and I will look for other books on this subject, bu
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Canada...we have a long way to go. I’m happy this book is a best seller, we all need our eyes and hearts to be more open.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Seven Fallen Feathers is the most powerful, thought provoking, soul crushing book I’ve read this year and every Canadian should read it.

When I was young very young I would overhear things said about Indigenous people, too young to understand any of it or its implications. Ugly comments being whispered by adults, I’d hear nasty things being said at the grocery store checkout, older kids laughing about kids from “the reservation”. Even if I was too young to comprehend any of it, I knew it wasn’t
Alexander Kosoris
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Here we are again: race relations in Thunder Bay. I’m really having a hard time determining where to start with this one, and probably not just because of its sensitive nature, but because of the uneasy feeling I’m left with when I dwell on it for too long. I think it has a lot to do with terrible, racist things I’ve said and sincerely thought over the years. I mean, I’m trying my best to do better, but I still struggle to overcome my personal ignorance. Besides, my past is still a part of me, a ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
A harrowing heart stopping history of the still unfolding betrayals against indigenous people. Seven Fallen Feathers brings the covered up history of repeated injustice and mistreatment into the light. Time after time First Nation people have gone through the experience of being uprooted against their will. They know the grief of losing their homes, sacred places, ancestor’s graves and their children. An enduring book that reminds one of the necessity of standing united and strong in resistance ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
This was a tough read. Not because of the subject matter at hand, but because of the author's biased unilateral view on the issue. Please don't get me wrong, the subject of the book is very serious and concerning with no easy or obvious path to correct (it's why I wanted to read the book in the first place). But because of the writers one sided, biased, opinion based rather than fact based, anecdotal and smeared with univariate analysis, I find it hurts the cause rather than help move it forward ...more
Lynda Archer
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such an important book about all the resources that continue to not be available for indigenous youth in Canada, particularly educational and mental health resources. This is the story of seven First Nation youths who were required to leave their remote, fly in communities in Ontario to get a high school education, usually in Thunder Bay. Talaga describes these youth and their families with rich details and deep compassion. And then to lose one's child often by drowning in the river. The local p ...more
❀ Susan G
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reading this a second time for a work book club and upgrading this book to a 5. Also want to encourage ALL Canadians to read, listen and learn more about the treatment of First Nations people in Canada. Racism does not just happen in other countries it is rampant in Canada and we all need to learn, listen and speak up!!

As part of the Canada Reads 2018 long-list, Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City is truly an eye-opening accou
Many First Nations teens in Northern Ontario have to move to the city of Thunder Bay for high school, which is largely only available via distance education in their remote communities. Away from their homes in a city pock-marked by racism, grappling with the multigenerational effects of colonialism and residential schools, these young people can have a very hard time. In recent years, a number of these teens, attending a First Nations-run school in the big city, have died under mysterious circu ...more
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Well written and impeccably researched study of seven young indigenous students who attended boarding schools in Thunder Bay Ontario after 2000 and drowned in the local river while fully clothed. All of their deaths were ruled accidents but their death rates were 1000’s of times higher than actuary tables would otherwise indicate.

Canada has significant problems with racists targeting indigenous people along with poverty and exceptionally high suicide rates among indigenous youth. The Canadian h
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What can I say about Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City by Tanya Talaga other than GO READ THIS RIGHT NOW. The book tells the story of the lives and deaths of seven Indigenous teens, all students from remote communities in northern Ontario, who had to leave home without their families to complete their educations in Thunder Bay. The book is an exploration of the social, cultural, and structural inequities that have defined colonialism in Canada from contact, ...more
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, non-fiction
I don’t know what to say, other than we need to do better. We need to demand better. No segment of our communities has had more promises broken to them by successive governments of all stripes than Indigenous communities. We are failing Indigenous children. Residential schools are not the past. The Sixties Scoop is not the past. The harm and the genocide underpinning both live on in the ways our government provides (or refuses to provide) the basic right to education for Indigenous children. Thi ...more
I never thought of Canada as a racist country. I've never been so wrong. This book made me incredibly sad, and angry, and disappointed in my country. ...more
Carla Johnson-Hicks
Being a Canadian, I wanted to read this book to learn about the many issues facing Indigenous People in our country. I really wanted to like this book. I had a difficult time reading and listening to it. It is non-fiction, it is disturbing, it is sad and it is a terrible thing that is still going on in Canada and Ontario, the province I live in. I hear the racist comments even in my Southern Ontario city. My biggest problem with this book was that the author tried to include too much. It wasn't ...more
Madeleine (Top Shelf Text)
For fans of compelling journalistic narratives, this is an eye-opening and heartbreaking story about the systematic racism and oppression of Indigenous populations in Canada. I learned so much from this book and will be pressing it into the hands of family and friends. Seven Fallen Feathers should be required reading for non-native people in the countries who have demonstrated a tragic lack of respect and understanding of Indigenous culture.
Beth Nickel
Nov 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is completely biased, it might have been a decent book had the author not injected things from decades ago, and provinces away.
What the author fails to mention is that some of these kids were staying with family, and as such were not alone as she keeps portraying.

One example of her time hopping is when she talks about a little boy who died in Manitoba, who had run away with his buddy- to his buddy's Uncle- who then kicked the little boy out- in the middle of winter- with a map and a fe
Melanie Godecki
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book broke my heart so many times. So much work needs to be done.
Alex Rohani
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Best non fiction book I’ve read. When it comes to must reads for Canadians... this is it. I’ve come across numerous people over the last few years who STILL don’t know about residential schools let alone the damage they’ve cost generations of indigenous in Canada.

The stories of the ‘seven fallen feathers’ told throughout this book highlight the extreme disconnect that the Canadian governmental institutions and the greater Canadian population have with indigenous communities living in Canada. For
Nov 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is heartwrenching but incredibly powerful, as you read about the impact colonial politics and ideas had on the First Nations people in Canada - and how that system is failing them today. While the centre point revolves around the deaths of seven First Nations youth in Thunder Bay between 2001 and 2011, it also gives you a wider scope to better understand the historic trauma and systemic racism that plague the lives of young First Nations people. But through all the loss, grief and fail ...more
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Over the course of eleven years, seven high school students died in the small city of Thunder Bay, ON. The similarities between these children are that they were all Indigenous and all displaced from their northern homes in order to pursue a high school education.
With a journalist's eye, Talaga delves deep into each students' police reports, coroners' reports and family memories. Over and over again, she discovers a lack of protocol being followed by the coroners' office and a failure on the pa
Carolyn Walsh
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5 stars. This is a powerful, heartbreaking book, a moving and informative investigation into the awful goals and legacy of the Indian Act of the late 1800’s. It examines the aftermath of residential schools, where children were seized from their northern settlements and forced to attend schools far from their families, culture and language and native religious practices. There was physical and sexual abuse and lack of medical treatment. The last of these schools were not closed down until the ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
Seven Fallen Feathers examines the little talked about past and present horrors, abuse and neglect facing the Indigenous peoples of Canada. It also reveals the hubris and inertia of the Canadian government regarding present inequities and the atrocities of past governments as they attempted to eradicate the Indigenous cultures from Canada.

This is a work of nonfiction, but it is as shocking and frightening as anything you'll read in fiction. It is a heartbreaking and shameful part of Canada's pas
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Tanya Talaga is an Anishinaabe Canadian journalist and author.

Her 2017 book, Seven Fallen Feathers, won the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and First Nation Communities Read: Young Adult/Adult. The book was also a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction, and it was CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Yea

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