Indigenous French Children’s books
In light of the recent discoveries with residential schools, we thought it was important to highlight some Indigenous authors, illustrators and their stories as a way to learn more, start discussions with our children and do better for the Indigenous people of this land.
J’ai le coeur rempli de bonheur by Monique Gray Smith
This beautiful book reminds young and old to think about and enjoy the moments in life that bring you joy. Monique Gray Smith wrote “I have a Heart Filled with Happiness” to support the well-being of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage toddlers to cherish the times that make them happy. Monique Gray Smith is Cree, Lakota and Scottish.
Parfois je suis un renard by Danielle Daniel
Sometimes I am a cunning fox and I observe my surroundings. Then, in the blink of an eye, I disappear. In this playful story of totemic animals of the Anishinaabe tradition, twelve children explain why they identify with different creatures such as a fox, deer, beaver or moose. The beautiful and colourful illustrations depict children wearing animal masks and are accompanied by short simple poems. Danielle Daniel is a Métis author and illustrator.
Tout petit toi by Richard Van Camp
This book intended for babies and toddlers pays homage, with tenderness, to the child inside each one. With its adorable illustrations, Tout Petit Toi is a perfect book to read aloud or even sung to all the little ones around you! Richard Van Camp is a member of the Dogrib nation from Canada’s Northwest Territories.
Nous sommes gentils by Monique Gray Smith
“We Are Kind” deals with simple, everyday acts of kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they are kind or when someone is kind to them. This book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves. Monique Gray Smith is Cree, Lakota and Scottish.
Quand on était seul by David Alexander Robertson
While helping her grandmother maintain her garden, a little girl notices characteristics in her that pique her curiosity. Why does her grandmother wear her long hair in braids and brightly coloured clothes? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school where all of these things were taken away. “When we were alone” tells of a difficult period and ultimately constitutes a testament to courage, strength and personal empowerment. David Alexander Robertson is a member of Norway House Cree Nation.
Awâsis et la délicieuse bannique by Dallas Hunt
In this educational and charming book, we discover a delicious Canadian story from First Nations author Dallas Hunt. Oh no! Awâsis loses Kohkum’s freshly baked delicious bannock. Not knowing what to do, she decides to ask her animal friends for help. What adventures will she experience? This whimsical story celebrates the revival of Cree dialects and traditional methods of Indigenous oral storytelling. Dallas Hunt is a member of Wapsewsipi (Swan River First Nation) in Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta, Canada.
La Mitaine by Sylvain Rivard
Sylvain Rivard continues the youth series on the anthropology of clothing among Indigenous people with a 7th title, this time focusing on “The Mitten”. Whether used to take a dish out of the oven or to play hockey, the mitt is really practical to protect our hands. The one we know best is the mitten that warms us! It can be knitted, embroidered with moose hair, made of leather… Rivard visits several nations to show us different types of mittens. It revives its collection “C’est la terre qui m’habille” (“It’s the Earth that dresses me”) to the delight of toddlers. “The Mitten” is trilingual, offering versions in French, English and Anicinapemowin. Sylvain Rivard is a Québécois with Abenaki origins.
Tu es là pour moi by Monique Gray Smith
This vibrantly illustrated book by artist Danielle Daniel encourages children to show affection, support each other and consider the well-being of others in their daily lives. It is a basic book that emphasizes the importance of harmonious relationships, empathy and mutual respect from an early age. Monique Gray Smith is Cree, Lakota, and Scottish.
L’histoire du Chandail Orange by Phyllis Webstad
When Phyllis (nee Jack) turned 6, she went to the residential school for the first time. On her first day at school, she wore a shiny orange shirt that her Granny had bought for her, but when she got to the school, it was taken away from her and never returned. This is the true story of Phyllis and her orange shirt. It is also the story of Orange Shirt Day (an important day of remembrance for First Nations and non First Nations Canadians and to recognize the survivors of the residential school system). Phyllis Webstad is Northern Secwpemc (Shuswap) from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation (Canoe Creek Indian Band)
Nous sommes les protecteurs de l’eau by Carole Lindstrom
With the help of her grandmother, a young girl stands up against the construction of pipelines in order to protect the Earth’s waters. This book was inspired by many indigenous movements across North America and leaves young readers with the important message of standing up for what you believe in and protecting our Earth. Carole Lindstrom is Anishinabe/Metis and is tribally enrolled with the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe.
Quel est mon superpouvoir? by Aviaq Johnston
Nalvana lives with her mother in a small Inuit village in the Arctic. She loves to dress up and imagine what her superpower would be. It seems all her friends have superpowers: some are really fast, others are great at building things, and so she starts to believe she doesn’t have a superpower. Her mother helps her to see that her superpower was right in front of her all along. Aviaq Johnston is a young Inuk author from Igloolik, Nunavut.
Niba a soif, très soif by Sunshine Tenasco
Nibi is the Anishinaabemowin word for water. In Nibi’s Water Song , an Indigenous girl is on the search for clean water to drink. Nibi is thirsty, so thirsty her mouth is clucking. Her determination to find water carries an optimistic message about working together to bring change. Sunshine Tenasco is Anishinabeg, from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Quebec. She is a clean water activist.
We hope that this list helps us all to further our education, build awareness, and increase connections between Canadians. We ALL have to strive to do better so that all of Canada’s children are cared for and given every opportunity, as Every Child Matters.