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Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City Paperback – Sept. 30 2017
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The groundbreaking and multiple award-winning national bestseller work about systemic racism, education, the failure of the policing and justice systems, and Indigenous rights by Tanya Talaga.
Over the span of eleven years, seven Indigenous high school students died in Thunder Bay, Ontario. They were hundreds of kilometres away from their families, forced to leave home because there was no adequate high school on their reserves. Five were found dead in the rivers surrounding Lake Superior, below a sacred Indigenous site. Using a sweeping narrative focusing on the lives of the students, award-winning author Tanya Talaga delves into the history of this northern city that has come to manifest Canada’s long struggle with human rights violations against Indigenous communities.
Talaga’s research is meticulous and her journalistic style is crisp and uncompromising. . . . The book is heartbreaking and infuriating, both an important testament to the need for change and a call to action. ― Publisher's Weekly
What is happening in Thunder Bay is particularly destructive, but Talaga makes clear how Thunder Bay is symptomatic, not the problem itself. Recently shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction, Talaga’s is a book to be justly infuriated by. ― Globe and Mail
Tanya Talaga investigates the deaths of seven Indigenous teens in Thunder Bay — Jethro Anderson, Curran Strang, Robyn Harper, Paul Panacheese, Reggie Bushie, Kyle Morrisseau, and Jordan Wabasse — searching for answers and offering a deserved censure to the authorities who haven’t investigated, or considered the contributing factors, nearly enough. ― National Post
[W]here Seven Fallen Feathers truly shines is in Talaga’s intimate retellings of what families experience when a loved one goes missing, from filing a missing-persons report with police, to the long and brutal investigation process, to the final visit in the coroner’s office. It’s a heartbreaking portrait of an indifferent and often callous system . . . Seven Fallen Feathers is a must-read for all Canadians. It shows us where we came from, where we’re at, and what we need to do to make the country a better place for us all. ― The Walrus
This story is hard and harrowing, but Talaga tells it with the care of a storyteller and the factual attention of a journalist. She makes the difficult connections between this national tragedy and the greater colonial systems that have endangered our most vulnerable for over a century, and she does it all with a keen, compassionate eye for all involved, especially the families who are too often overlooked. These stories need to be heard. These young people deserve nothing less than to be honoured everywhere. -- Katherena Vermette
Seven Fallen Feathers may prove to be the most important book published in Canada in 2017. Tanya Talaga offers well-researched, difficult truths that expose the systemic racism, poverty, and powerlessness that contribute to the ongoing issues facing Indigenous youth, their families, and their communities. It is a call to action that deeply honours the lives of the seven young people; our entire nation should feel their loss profoundly. -- Patti LaBoucane-Benson
You simply must read this book. Tanya Talaga has done the hard work for us. She sat with the families, heard their stories. Now, with the keen eye and meticulous research of an uncompromising journalist, she is sharing their truths. We have to start listening. Parents are sending their children to school in Thunder Bay to watch them die. Racism, police indifference, bureaucratic ineptitude, lateral violence — it doesn’t have to be this way. Let this book enrage you — and then demand that Canada act now. -- Duncan McCue
About the Author
TANYA TALAGA is the acclaimed author of Seven Fallen Feathers, which was the winner of the RBC Taylor Prize, the Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, and the First Nation Communities READ: Young Adult/Adult Award; a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Nonfiction Prize and the BC National Award for Nonfiction; CBC’s Nonfiction Book of the Year, a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book, and a national bestseller. Talaga was the 2017–2018 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy, the 2018 CBC Massey Lecturer, and author of the national bestseller All Our Relations: Finding The Path Forward. For more than twenty years she has been a journalist at the Toronto Star and is now a columnist at the newspaper. She has been nominated five times for the Michener Award in public service journalism. Talaga is of Polish and Indigenous descent. Her great-grandmother, Liz Gauthier, was a residential school survivor. Her great-grandfather, Russell Bowen, was an Ojibwe trapper and labourer. Her grandmother is a member of Fort William First Nation. Her mother was raised in Raith and Graham, Ontario. She lives in Toronto with her two teenage children.
- Publisher : House of Anansi Press (Sept. 30 2017)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1487002262
- ISBN-13 : 978-1487002268
- Item weight : 458 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.54 x 21.59 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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There is great disparity in funding for schools in the north, and in many cases the education of young children is well below the standards of other Canadian schools. The buildings are in terrible condition and lack adequate educational resources. To get a high school education the Indigenous teenagers must attend schools hundreds of miles from their small native settlements. There is culture shock, loneliness and prejudice. This book focuses on the death of 7 teenaged young people who died in Thunder Bay, and the lack of investigation by the police who quickly stated that none of the deaths were mysterious. Bodies of young people were found fully clothes and drowned in the river. Even after a couple of young Indigenous men reported being beaten and thrown in the river and escaped death, there was no effort to learn the cause of the drownings. Official word was immediate that each one had been drunk and fell in the river, with little or no communication by police to grieving families.
The book also shows that living conditions are not unique to Ontario. Many northern native settlements have no drinkable water, no indoor toilets and live in abject poverty. Mentioned are the epidemics of suicide by hanging by children, glue and solvent sniffing which causes brain damage in young people who live with depression and despair, the dysfunction of adults in the aftermath of their time in residential schools. Also discussed is the present inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls(MMIW) and the dreadful crimes of Robert Pickton in BC, where many of the 40+ missing women murdered on his farm were Indigenous and ignored by the police for a long time.
I do wish the book had included a map to show the location of the home settlements of the native children who came to Thunder Bay for schooling. I would also have wanted photos of the young people who died there. This was a story in Maclean’s magazine this summer, and photos of each were shown on the cover. Recommended reading for all Canadians who care about our past and its effects on the present, and to see how far we still need to go to address injustices, prejudice and disparities.
Reviewed in Canada 🇨🇦 on July 15, 2022
We must not look aside anymore.
But don’t read it all in one go, the pain is just too great.
Tanya Talaga has written her book in such a way that the pain of losing a child is felt by the reader. As a mother, I felt it to the core of my being. Negligence by Coroner's and Police in ruling these deaths (of young, healthy teenagers) as accidents is truly shocking and completely deceptive. Add to this the fact that families were not notified of their child's death in a timely, compassionate and respectful manner. Shocking! Unacceptable!
We need more writers and truth tellers like Tanya Talaga. We need more news coverage of injustices inflicted on our Indigenous Peoples by mainstream media. Canada needs to wake up and take the blinders off to rampant racism across our country.