Again, as with my last non-fiction read, this is a book that several people have recommended to me. It’s not an easy read but it is definitely important.
Specifically, it’s an in-depth analysis of the deaths of seven First Nations teenagers over a period of several years in the Ontario town of Thunder Bay. All were high schools students from remote Northern communities; all were boarding in the city, sometimes with family and sometimes with strangers; most of the deaths were drownings; none of them was adequately or promptly investigated by police. The stories of these seven tragedies are compelling in and of themselves but the author also makes very clear that this is not just the story of seven dead young people in Thunder Bay but also the much broader story of Canada’s treatment of its First Nations people — from the generational repercussions of the horror of the residential school system to the substandard living conditions on many First Nations reserves still today.
As Canadians we like to pride ourselves on our tolerance and inclusivity, but there are many places where this complacent national self-image rubs harshly against reality, and this is never more true than when it comes to the treatment of our indigenous people. Seven Fallen Feathers shines a harsh light on the results of Canadian bigotry towards First Nations people, and challenges us as a nation to do better.