Book Review: Seven Fallen Feathers Racism, Death and Hard Truths In A Northern City (Indigenous Author) Non Fiction

Book Review: Seven Fallen Feathers Racism, Death and Hard Truths In A Northern City (Indigenous Author) Non Fiction

The month that I read this book, I had to take it slow. Seven Fallen Feather by Tanya Talaga, hurt my heart. As an indigenous woman, and a mother this was difficult to read. 

Over the course of 11 years (2000-2011), seven Indigenous teenagers were found dead, 5 of those were found in the river. This happened in Thunder Bay, Ontario while these children were attending high school, hundreds of miles away from their families. Living in remote communities, these children were forced to leave their homes if they wanted a chance to finish their high school education. Beyond the eighth grade, these children need to leave home because their communities don't have schools set up to educate them. Why? the funding isn't there. Can you imagine sending your child away from home at such a young age? These young teenagers are vulnerable, in many cases living with strangers, and the system failed them.

Seven Indigenous teenagers leave home for their education. Parents scared but hopeful that this is the best decision. These kids go to cities that are not welcoming. This book is about taking responsibility, these children need the resources other kids have access to. Seven students died at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, and the police did the utter minimum they could do to investigate or prevent further tragedies. Talaga pieces together each student's last night before disappearing and the events that unfolded. If you've never heard of these stories, you'll have no issue understanding. 

The Canadian public largely doesn't pay attention to Indigenous issues in this country. So many people believe that our issues are mostly put to rest, but they're not. Residential schools closed in 1996 and we still have a huge problem with education. Many remote communities still have no running water or proper plumbing or heating. Today, in 2020 we still have 61 reserves under long-term boil water advisories. These children cannot have a bath in their own home, drinking water has to be brought into the home. 

Tanya Talaga has written a book that should be read by all Canadians. I know many Canadians have no interest in these issues, I see it in the comments. It's a shock to the system that will force people to see the truth, but getting them to care is the hard part. For those who do care, Thank you. These stories need to be told, they need to be read. Yes, it really hurt my heart but it was readable and really well told. I firmly believe that our education system plays a huge role in why non-Indigenous people don't pay attention to our problems. They don't feel outraged that this is happening in Canada. Indigenous peoples are seen as playing the victim when defending inherent rights. Many of the history textbooks don't mention Native Americans beyond discovering Canada and first contact. We're still here, we're still fighting to keep our culture and protect our land. The government likes to make promises and use pretty words like "reconciliation" but actions speak louder than words. 

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