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Surviving the City

(Surviving the City #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  1,305 ratings  ·  240 reviews
Tasha Spillett’s graphic novel debut, Surviving the City, is a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one. Miikwan and Dez are best friends. Miikwan is Anishinaabe; Dez is Inninew. Together, the teens navigate the challenges of growing up in an urban landscape – they’re so close, they even completed their Berry Fast together. How ...more
Paperback, 56 pages
Published March 1st 2019 by HighWater Press
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  1,305 ratings  ·  240 reviews

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Dave Schaafsma
Aug 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
There are several crises going on in the world right now, of course, all of which demand your immediate attention, but this is one you really have to know more about if you don’t already. An alarming number of indigenous women and girls are disappearing (presumably murdered) in Canada and the U.S in the last few years. Yes, people are murdered and disappear every day, but the rates are shocking. And many who seem to be targets are from the queer community.

This Wikipedia article will get you up t
Dec 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm so glad that I read this. I've been looking for more comics/graphic novels written by indigenous authors featuring indigenous characters and this was perfect. I definitely need to get my hands on volume 2!

Surviving the City is a graphic novel that not only has beautiful art and representation, but it is also a graphic novel that covers an important issue that affects the indigenous community specifically women, girls, and two spirit people. The story follows two girls, Miikwan and Dez, as th
Surviving the City is a graphic novel that follows Dez and Miikwan, two teen friends who live in Winnipeg. Dez is facing being placed in a group home because her grandmother is becoming too ill to care for her any longer. Miikwan's mother is one of the many missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

I really liked the way this story showed the girls just living life -- going to school, hitting up the mall, working on a class project -- but still highlights some of the common plights faced b
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story that just barely begins to talk about the alarming number of indigenous women and gender non-conforming folx disappearing (presumably murdered) in Canada and the U.S. The rates are shocking, and many of the targets seem to be from the queer community - which is something this story seems to maybe hint at or wink to.

This is a relevant report from Canada -

"The (Canadian) National Inquiry’s Final Report reveals that persistent and deliberate
According to the RCMP, ten percent of women in Canada who have been missing for at least 30 days are Indigenous.

Indigenous women are five times more likely to be murdered than non-Indigenous women.

So, this graphic novel, about two indigenous girls, who live in the city, is very sad, and very true. Surviving in the city is hard when you are a target.

I love how the spirits of the dead hang around the indigenous peoples, but the white people have an alien spirit that hangs around them. Very to the
Jul 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Nice" Canada has a long history of abuse and murder of its indigenous peoples. And it's not in the past; there are countless, current examples, including the many First Nations women who have disappeared and are murdered every year.
This story follows two young women over a few days. Miikwan's mother is dead, Dez lives with her kokum (grandmother), her only family. Dez is scared because her kokum is ill and Dez could be separated from her. The two young women are very close, and over the course
Rod Brown
Jul 03, 2019 rated it liked it
An important attempt to draw attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic in Canada.

The writing has some shortcomings, leaving things like berry fasts and smudging unexplained for ignorant readers like myself, ending in an abrupt and muddled manner, and having an afterword that may have been more useful as an introduction. Mostly, at 54 pages it just felt too short to do the subject justice.

What I did find effective was the presence of the spirits of female ancestors providing
Lost in Book Land
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Welcome Back!

This has been such a crazy week. One day I have a super bad migraine and can not sleep for the life of me because of how bad my head hurts. The next I have like eight loads of laundry to do and tons of stuff for work and I am somehow behind on my Youtube watch list by like 700 videos (that is seriously not an exaggeration my watch later list is sitting at 700 as of last night and I am not okay with that). The good news is, is that the weekend is almost here and I can relax and spend
Kate Olson
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
American Indian Youth Literature Award - 2020 Young Adult Honor. This slim graphic story addresses the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I look forward to continuing the series.
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Realistic story about the inequitable challenges facing Indigenous youth in North America today.

When one best friend disappears, the one left behind finds herself faced with the realities of missing Indigenous people.

I love the provenance of this book, the ownvoices ness. Glad for the representation, specifically in the GN medium. Keep making more!
This is a short yet important read. Highly recommended as the book can be seen as an introduction to the issue that happens in Canada.
I was very moved by this graphic novel about two indigenous teen girls. The story itself is very slight - I could tell it to you in one sentence. But the way that both the girls' ancestors, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and the windingo/demons compelling men to violence was portrayed through imagery was very powerful.

I also really liked that some indigenous customs (smudging, berry fast ceremony) were referenced but not really explained. It made these customs seem integral to
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a short but poignant tale about the fears faced by North American indigenous peoples and it explores how easily people can go missing when you belong to a marginalized race.
Elizabeth A
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, graphix, kids-ya
Book blurb: a story about womanhood, friendship, colonialism, and the anguish of a missing loved one.

I appreciated that the authors want to raise awareness of the missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada, but there is simply no way that this slim graphic novel could adequately explore what the blurb promises.

I liked the illustration style - especially how the female spirit ancestors hover protectively around the young girls, and how predatory men are depicted. This is for a YA audience,
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This review can also be found on my blog:

This is a short but powerful graphic novel about two young First Nations women in Canada that face the perils of being Indigenous in the city together.

Best friends at school, Miikwan is Anishinaabe, while Dez is Inninew. The two high schoolers bond is so tight that they completed a berry fast together, which is a rite of womanhood in their tribes. Despite their close friendship, they have each faced great trauma in
Tasha Spillet writes with the kind of raw voice that indigenous girls deserve to hear. Surviving the City takes the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit, and she brings that to life in a story that doesn't just focus MMIWG2.

I think what I really admire about Surviving the City is that Spillet is able to tell the story of two girls, Miikwan (Anishinaabe) and Dez (Inninew), just being girls while living in a world that just can't handle indigenous girls getting to
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Adults and teens.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
Shelves: native-americans
This Canadian (YA) graphic novel deals with a pair of school friends - girls in HS - who are dealing with the stress and horror of missing women in the First Nations community, including knowing females who have gone missing. The book can be read as an instructional tale for young women to be extremely careful since there are perils all over - strangers who wish to take advantage of Native American girls etc.

One of the friends disappears momentarily, because of stress at home, which leads to he
Carolyn Klassen
Oct 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a great graphic novel. Cute, soft art style. The story covers a few different issues in a way that would appeal to first time learners. Would fit well in classroom settings, friendship centres, libraries, and Indigenous and settler households as a tool for learning and positive representation.

Trigger warnings for: caregiver illness, kids getting moved into foster care, mention + depiction of kids being taken to residential school, references to MMIWG2S, implied attempted child abductio
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i really wish this would've been longer :(
i would've easily read 200pgs of this story. it moved a bit too fast for me and i wish there'd been more development and time to get to know the characters, but overall, it's very impactful and worth the read, shining a light on such a prominent issue that is often pushed to the side: the killings and disapperances of indigenous women and two-spirited people in canada. plus, the art was v pretty and really suited the story, there was something really cal
Barbara McEwen
3.5 stars - I loved the connection between the two main characters and think it did a great job of making you feel the scariness and realness of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. I felt it was a bit short and choppy though. I am hoping future instalments will flush everything out because there is a lot of goodness here.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-five-stars
This was so beautiful. The illustrations were amazing and the story made me cry. It was full of emotion and grief. It shows the struggles of Indigenous people, specifically women, and how common it is for them to go missing.

It's also important that we read diversely to inform ourselves on other cultures and this is a great graphic novel if you want to get a glimpse of Indigenous cultures as well as their struggles.
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5? I don't think it has to go into YA. It mentions moon time and MMIWG2S but it's not super graphic so I think it's fine?

Update: it has been suggested I keep this in the YA section of my school library (access limited to grade 7 and 8 or younger students with parental permission).
Amy Layton
Neocolonialism runs rampant in urban Canada.  Social workers threaten to tear apart families, indigenous faith is relocated to a high school's prayer room, and every white man who offers food, warmth, comfort--is just another threat.

With warm tones and a plotline that cuts straight to the heart of some pressing issues today in Canada, Surviving the City makes for a great graphic novel about what it means to be indigenous today.  When every white man is a threat, when every government agent is a
eva დ
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A really important read.
Owen Townend
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I picked this up on a whim and received an unexpected cultural education. Murder trends involving indigenous women in Canada are shockingly high and have remained as such for a long time.

Surviving The City Volume 1 introduces us to Miikwan and Dez, two friends as close as sisters who suffer a crisis when Dez's kokum (grandmother) is deemed unfit to continue taking care of her. When an indigenous girl runs away from home, she is especially vulnerable.

This was a short read but revealed a lot about
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Okay. So this is an important graphic novel that takes on a tough topic. I liked the art, and I felt for the characters, and because I want people to read it, I'm going with four stars. But this is not a place to start if you are unfamiliar with the current missing and murdered indigenous women crisis. There is little background given, and unless someone is aware that this is a huge problem, in native communities, this book is not going to enlighten them. It assumes knowledge. Not necessarily a ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
Nnnngh. It was sweet, the girls friendship was powerful, but I felt it focused too much on problems that not enough people know about so therefore the plot did not explain it well. And also, it HAD to have this in it; THE EVIL WHITE MALE!!!!! Sighhhhhhhhhhhh. The white police officer as a demon. Reminder: police protect US! Every day they risk their lives for our safety! They are the good guys, so stop making them evil! What makes WHITE males evil? In this book, there was not ONE portrayal of a ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads, ya-fic
My first Indigenous graphic novel! This does a great job of portraying a number of important issues: MMIWG (Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, Girls, and Two-Spirit People); taking Indigenous children from their homes; and Anishinaabe culture. I may not know what a berry fast is but, now I want to learn more. Most importantly, at its core, this is a story about the friendship between two Indigenous teenagers. The drawings are gorgeous, the story is told well, and Spillett-Summer provides res ...more
Ashley (Tiny Navajo Reads)
While this is short graphic novel, this is a graphic novel that needs to be read by more people about murdered and missing indigenous women. It is centered on a teenage girl who doesn't come home after school one day and her friend is rightfully concerned, as lots of indigenous women are murdered or go missing.

It's a tragic story of the reality that Native American and Indigenous women are more likely to be murdered or go missing than white women and it's something that needs to be talked about
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TASHA SPILLETT-SUMNER (she/her/hers) draws her strength from both her Nehiyaw and Trinidadian bloodlines. She is a celebrated educator, poet, and emerging scholar. Tasha is most heart-tied to contributing to community-led work that centres on land and water defence, and the protection of Indigenous women and girls. Tasha is currently working on her PhD in Education through the University of Saskat ...more

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Surviving the City (2 books)
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