Hidden in plain view


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/06/2021 (713 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Last month I wrote about the humorous books readers who visit my Little Free Library recommended.

This month it’s a whole other story. The news out of Kamloops, B.C., has everyone talking and trying to come to grips with the tragic injustices that our Indigenous brothers and sisters have endured. The site of the former residential school on Academy Road also has folks wondering .
“Too close to home.”; “Not in my back yard.” Those words are eerily applicable now. 

I once again heard from little library patrons about books they had read or were looking for. This time they wanted to know more about residential schools and the history we were never taught. I learned there is a new memoir receiving rave reviews at McNally Robinson, conveniently located in Crescentwood, titled Nishga, by Jordan Abel.

Photo by Dan Harasymchuk Indian Horse, by the late author Richard Wagamese (above), is a recommended read for those seeking to learn more about Canada’s shameful past.

He describes his work as “a book about intergenerational trauma, Indigenous dispossession, and the afterlife of residential schools.”

Other recommendations I thought worthy  of sharing with you include a book published by University of Manitoba Press – our own Phil Fontaine penned the foreword to A Knock on the Door: The Essential History of Residential Schools from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The book documents every residential school in Canada. The list alone is heart-wrenching.

Many people also seem to have a renewed interest in 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph.   

Someone left a note with their name and phone number in my mailbox with a request, should someone leave a copy in my library of In Search of April Raintree by Beatrice Mosionier.

I’m convinced I was a librarian in another life. That note also reinforced my belief that people crave stories to help make sense of things. Stories have the power to unite us and there is one storyteller I admire greatly, namely, the late Richard Wagamese. I  have a photo of Richard holding an eagle feather when he spoke at a Kamloops Unitarian Fellowship service. His novel, Indian Horse, has been described as a force for healing a broken world.

Even this news junkie was overwhelmed by the barrage of newscasts of the 215 children, so I decided to take a sojourn. Get exercise, smell the lilacs and all that.

I like to walk the perimeter of my “beat” and ended up at the corner of Wellington Crescent and Academy Road, where a young man held up a sign asking for spare change.

There’s always someone at that intersection but this time I decided to stop and talk.

I gave him a mask and we adjourned to the bench at the bus stop. I learned his name, his age and that he had been out of prison for just a few weeks.

He also had been in a series of foster homes and had “a temper that got me in trouble.”

He told me his people were from a northern community, but I just couldn’t ask if any had been in a residential school. He asked if I was a social worker, and I said no, I think I’m a librarian.

Even though he did not finish high school he said he likes to read but hasn’t read a book in years.

He alternates between sleeping under two different bridges “to avoid some people who are not good to be around,” so we have a date to meet in a week at which time I will take him a few books, a journal and some pens.  He has a story to tell.  And Canada has some serious reading to do.

Heather Emberley

Heather Emberley
Crescentwood community correspondent

Heather Emberley is a community correspondent for Crescentwood. Email her at if you have a story suggestion.

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