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Welcome to It's Time to Read! This virtual book club features the works and voices of Indigenous authors to increase understanding and awareness of Indigenous culture, history, and current issues. Help us build bridges through books and advance reconciliation in the region.

Settle in with a blanket, a cup of tea and participate in It's Time to Read from the comfort of your own home! Check back regularly for discussion, polls and exclusive events. Subscribe to ensure you don't miss any of the action. All are welcome to join; however, it is important to note books may contain adult content, including but not limited to adult language and themes, and violence.

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Firekeeper's Daughter (Book #1) Wrap-up Survey

Thank you to everyone who joined us as we navigated our first book, Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. We appreciate you taking the time to read the book, and the thoughtful and respectful discussion that took place.

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Help us pick our next book!

Thank you to everyone who made a suggestion for our next book club read! This form is now closed.


Black Water: Part 1

Are there any of David’s experiences you find familiar? Throughout the book so far, we see many examples of how stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples affect David – whether it’s being scared of Vince at a party, or feeling shame of his Indigeneity to the point of denying it to a girl at school. How did the existence of stereotypes about Indigenous Peoples affect David growing up? Why exactly does David feel he’s going home as he and his father, Dulas, fly towards Norway House, even though he had never been there? What does home mean to him? In your own words, what is blood memory

Black Water: Part 2

As David ponders, what would his life – his interactions, sense of self-esteem, ability to combat racism – been like if he had been aware of his Indigenous identity? How do we undo the damage that spreading harmful stereotypes causes, especially to our children? What is one practical thing we can do to combat this issue, for example, specifically regarding the “drunken Indian” stereotype that David addresses? David makes the argument that when it comes to witnessing acts of injustice or racism, silence is compliance. Do you agree with this? He was bothered when no-one other than him stood up to the man who had made a racist impression at the restaurant. Why do people struggle to confront others when they do wrong?

Black Water: final thoughts

Did Don’s reaction to David’s question about their trip to Black Water surprise you? Have you had a similar experience or conversation with someone regarding a shared experience? What is one memory of David’s that struck you the most? What is your biggest takeaway from reading Black Water

Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act #1-7

June 1 Imposed the elected chief and band council system In 1869, the Indian Act imposed the elected chief and band council system, similar to municipal-style governments where a leader and council members are elected. Initially, elections were to be held annually, but in 1898, it was changed to every three years. In 1951, it was changed to every two years, which is how it remains today. What negative impacts does this system have on communities? June 2 Denied women status The Indian Act has subjected generations of Indigenous women and their children to a legacy of discrimination – and continues to do so today. Bob Joseph writes, “Indian Act regulations devalue women and are considered the primary cause of the vulnerability of Indigenous women today.” How has the Indian Act impacted Indigenous women? June 3 Created reserves Reserves were first established in 1876 and allowed the government to contain Indigenous Peoples and relocate them to make way for settlers. It also upended how Indigenous Peoples lived. What’s one way the reserve system changed how Indigenous Peoples lived? June 4 Encouraged voluntary and enforced enfranchisement Status Indians were not considered “people” under Canadian laws until the Indian Act was revised in 1951. In fact, prior to 1951, the Indian Act defined a “person” as “an individual other than an Indian.” What does it mean that Indigenous Peoples had to give their Indian status – and all associated legal rights, benefits and restrictions – to be considered “people?” June 5 Could expropriate portions of reserves for public works “Land. If you understand nothing else about the history of Indians in North America, you need to understand the question that really matters is the question of land.” -- Thomas King, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. The government manipulated the Indian Act to suits its needs, evident through its ability to expropriate reserve land for public works. What does this tell you about the role land played in the treatment of Indigenous Peoples? June 6 Renamed individuals with European names In the 19th century, the Indian Act was primarily concerned with assimilating Indigenous Peoples, including registering Indians to extinguish traditional ties and to rid of names that were confusing and difficult for Euro-Canadians to pronounce. What did you learn about renaming Indigenous Peoples with European names in this section? June 7 Created a permit system to control Indians’ ability to sell products from farms Bob Joseph writes, “Agriculture was one objective chosen as the path for Indians to follow to become ‘civilized.’” Despite this objective, Indigenous Peoples and communities were not set up to succeed on this path. How did this permit system discourage their opportunities?

Book Discussion: 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Why do you think so little is known about the Indian Act? How does knowing more about the Indian Act affect your life? Which aspects of the Indian Act were most disturbing to you? Which aspects of the book made you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel as though the author is laying blame in any way on the non-Indigenous population? How has this book affected your view of Canada’s history and its founding father, John A. Macdonald? Does removing statues and renaming buildings contribute to reconciliation or erase history? How does this book influence the way you now perceive Indigenous Peoples?? What are the social and political impacts of removing the Indian Act as a piece of legislation? Has this book broadened your understanding of the issues faced by Indigenous Peoples today?

The Strangers: Year 1 Discussion

What are your first impressions of the central characters?   Motherhood and birth are recurring themes for each character in the first year. Phoenix delivers a baby who is almost immediately taken from her by a social worker. Elsie celebrates being a grandmother, all the while grieving the loss of custody of her own children. Cedar struggles with life in foster homes, then complicated by the idea of living with a father and stepmom she’s never met. And in Margaret’s chapter, she doubts Elsie’s ability to be a good parent as she becomes a young mom to Phoenix, while also reflecting on her own mother’s shortcomings as a parent.   Considering each character’s journey in Year One, how important is it to have choice in motherhood, and what happens when you aren’t given a choice?    Again, considering each character, how important is it to have support in motherhood? How is this shown or not shown in this section of the book?  Consider this quote. How important is it for someone to be proud of they are and where they come from? 

The Strangers: Year 2 Discussion

What are your current impressions of the central characters? Is it evolving since Year 1?  In Year 2, we see the effects of an absence of connection – and an absence of freedom. Phoenix is in a cell, cut off from her family. Cedar-Sage is now living with her dad, stepmom and stepsister, in a more “secure” home than she’s ever lived in: she has her own washroom, bedroom, and the pantry, fridge and deep freeze are all well-stocked. Yet, she’s intimidated by the large house and neighbourhood. She is also cut off from her “real real family,” except for when her dad shares stories. When we meet Elsie again, she’s detoxing, yet finds herself unable to escape people and patterns intertwined with her addiction. And lastly, Margaret feels trapped by her responsibilities – an aging mother, a loveless and abusive marriage, “ungrateful teenage boys”, and “a low-life teenage daughter”, and grandchildren. She’s surrounded by family and connections, yet they make her feel resentful.   Sometimes freedom is taken from us, and sometimes we create our own limitations. How are the Stranger women imposing their own lack of freedom, and where do they have no choice?  What does this tell us about freedom, or lack thereof? 

The Strangers: Year 3 Discussion

What are your impressions of the central characters now that we’ve learned more about their lives? We continue to see the role connection plays in our lives playout in Year 3. Phoenix is finally making a positive connection through Ben, who demonstrates the power of storytelling, and it’s helping her calm down. Cedar wants to see her sister and her mom, but her stepmother, Nikki, is against the idea. This loneliness leads to suicide ideation, until Shawn allows her to take a call from Phoenix. Meanwhile, Elsie is struggling to stay free from addiction, and stay connected to her kids. She doesn’t have a phone, but the prospect of getting to see Cedar is enough to help her resist temptation, for now. Lastly, we see how the death of Margaret’s brother affects her life, including upending plans for Genie and Joseph to adopt Elsie. Margaret’s family forces familial connection upon her in a way that leads to deep resentment. What do we learn here about the importance of connection? Family are the first connections we make and are the foundations of our life’s journey. What role does family play in the lives of the Stranger women?

The Strangers: Year 4 Discussion

Hope is a theme that stands out in Year 4. Ben’s stories of rebuilding trust with his daughter inspires Phoenix to reach out in hopes of getting to see her son, Sparrow. Cedar still deeply wants to see her sister and mom, but her dad and stepmother aren’t on the same page, as to not get Cedar’s hopes up. Elsie decides to terminate a pregnancy, as she doesn’t have much hope left in her life. And it is in Year 4 we really come to understand the events that upend Margaret’s law career and her life. Even Margaret had hope when she went to tell Jacob she was pregnant, only to discover Jacob’s true colours – that he never had serious intentions and would never marry her because who she was. Being told he couldn’t marry her because he’s a “good old country boy at heart” who “can’t bring a … Catholic girl home,” causes Margaret to snap and assault Jacob. Not only does this dash Margaret’s hopes of a better life, but also the hopes of her family.  What do you think Margaret learned from this incident about having hopes and dreams? Is hope dangerous?  How important is hope? What does it mean for Elsie and Phoenix to have such an absence of hope?Phoenix and Margaret are angry, often violent characters, whereas Elsie and Cedar are gentler, apparently sadder people. Do you think their rage – or sadness – comes from the same place? What makes some people turn to rage while others turn to sorrow? 

The Strangers: Year 5 Discussion

 It’s devastating after seeing Phoenix’s hope in Year 4 be dashed when Lisa, her son’s paternal great-grandmother who has custody of Sparrow, tells Phoenix she will never see her son. Despite having some hope, Phoenix is faced with someone else having an idea of who she is: someone who will never not be violent or incarcerated. Elsie reflects on being cast away by Margaret, who also has limiting beliefs Elsie’s identity. Margaret never forgot who the world told her she was, and the disappointment of believing otherwise. What does it mean to have others – or society – determine who you are? How do you think the women’s lives would have been Meanwhile, Cedar is starting anew at university, a goal she achieved her own with some support from her dad. She then gets invited to hang out with a group of Indigenous women that seem “fun and cool.” Is this hope in action? What does it mean to be ending the book on Cedar, instead of Margaret? There is no denying the hardships and trauma and other Indigenous people have experienced. But how does seeing only sorrow and despair affect Margaret and others? What else have you learned about family or culture that Margaret may not see or appreciate? Considering these two quotes, why do you think Margaret and her father had such different relationships with their identities as Metis people?

The Strangers: Final Discussion

Now that we know more about the character’s back stories, have your impressions changed? Were you able to empathize or sympathize with the characters more after learning the events that lead them to their life’s paths? How can this translate into real life situations? Who was your favourite character and who did you struggle most to connect with? Why? "No one messes with Strangers." What is the significance of the name Stranger in the context of the book? The book features many male characters – Margaret’s dad and brothers, Elsie’s ex partners, Ben. What role do men play in The Strangers

Week 1 Discussion: WAABANONG (East)

“My Zhaaganaash and Anishinaabe grandmothers could not have been more different. . . . Their push and pull on me has been a tug-of-war my entire life.” (pages 10-11) How does this conflict impact Daunis? Daunis talks about keeping her various “worlds” separate, saying, “My life goes more smoothly when Hockey World and Real World don’t overlap. Same as with my Fontaine and Firekeeper worlds.” What are ways in which we see Daunis acting to keep her worlds separate? Do you think she feels a stronger connection to one world or the other? Do you agree it’s easier to keep worlds separate? “Could I even explain [to Gramma Pearl] that I’m helping law-enforcement officers from the same government that tried taking her to boarding school? . . . Would she know that I am trying to protect our community, and others, too?” (page 149) What is the role of intergenerational trauma in this book?

Week 2 Discussion: ZHAAWANONG (South)

“I need to be part of the investigation. The community needs to be part of the solution.” (page 289) What significance does this hold? What added value is there in the solution coming from within the community? Were you surprised Levi was involved? Why or why not? Why do you think Daunis was so blindsided by her brother’s involvement? Why do you think she couldn’t acknowledge fault in her brother but was so quick to assume the worst of others (i.e., her uncle, her ex-boyfriend)?

Week 3 Discussion: NINGAABII'AN (West)

What is the role of Elders in this book? What would you do, if you could get away with anything? If you grew up getting special treatment? If you had a friend like Travis to take the fall for a big mistake?” (page 418) Discuss the full consequences of Levi not only never having faced consequences but also using Travis as a scapegoat for a truly egregious crime. What is the full extent of the harm? Why was this allowed and tolerated for so long? What did you think of the dynamic between Levi and Mike?

Week 4 Discussion: KEWAADIN (North)

Both Daunis and Jamie struggle with their identities—while Daunis feels torn between many, Jamie doesn’t have any sense of where he comes from. Are there similarities in the way they struggle with their identities? Differences? Daunis references the Seven Grandfather teachings throughout the novel—Love, Humility, Respect, Honesty, Bravery, Wisdom, and Truth. Are there characters or moments that help Daunis learn and embody these teachings? One of the main themes in the novel is the strength of women and what it means to be a strong woman. We see Daunis' journey and choices guided by the women who surround her. What characters or interactions stand out to you? Do you see different types of strength in the book? The ending saw no real justice for Daunis or Lily. Why do you think the author made the decision to end the book this way? How is it realistic?

Firekeeper's Daughter: Final Discussion

Have you finished reading Firekeeper's Daughter? Be sure to go through each part's discussion questions for a deeper look at specific themes, characters, and plot points. Have something else to say? Share it here!


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Are there any of David's experiences that you find familiar?

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Which character do you relate to most?

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How much do you know about the Indian Act?

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