‘Five Little Indians’ by Michelle Good wins CBC’s Canada Reads

Cree writer and lawyer Michelle Good holds a copy of her book, "Five Little Indians", in an undated handout photo. Her book, which traces the intersecting paths of five residential school survivors in east Vancouver as they try to rebuild their lives and come to grips with their pasts, has won CBC's Canada Reads contest.

TORONTO – “Five Little Indians” by Cree writer and lawyer Michelle Good has won CBC’s Canada Reads contest.

The book, published by Harper Perennial, traces the intersecting paths of five residential school survivors in east Vancouver as they try to rebuild their lives and come to grips with their pasts.

CBC’s annual battle of the books brings together five high-profile panellists to argue why their favourite homegrown title should be crowned the ultimate must-read.

Good’s book was championed by Ojibway journalist and Vogue fashion writer Christian Allaire from Nipissing First Nation in Ontario — the grandson of a residential school survivor who says it’s important that Canadians understand this history.

Other titles in contention were Catherine Hernandez’s “Scarborough” from Arsenal Pulp Press and championed by actor and activist Malia Baker; and Esi Edugyan’s “Washington Black” from Patrick Crean Editions and championed by Olympian and LGBTQ advocate Mark Tewksbury.

Also in the running were Clayton Thomas-Müller’s “Life in the City of Dirty Water” of Allen Lane and championed by forest ecologist Suzanne Simard; and Omar El Akkad’s “What Strange Paradise” from McClelland & Stewart, championed by entrepreneur and former Syrian refugee Tareq Hadhad.

Good, a member of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction and the 2021 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

“The awards are nice and are deeply satisfying as an author but most important to me, awards elevate the profile of the book so more hearts and minds are exposed to the story that I felt compelled to tell,” Good said Thursday in a release.

“I wrote this book to expose the truth of intergenerational trauma, and how there is so little support in Canada for survivors to truly be able to heal, both on an individual level and at a community level. The primary relationship in this country is the one between Indigenous people and the rest of Canada, and this relationship must be reconciled before we can really consider Canada the country we want to be.”

The week’s debates are available to stream on CBC Gem and CBC Listen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 31, 2022.

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