With Red Wolf, Jennifer Dance has come howling out of the wilderness and I am deeply impressed
— Joseph Boyden (Giller Prize winner )
This book should be placed in every classroom in Canada. It is informative of our cultural way of life, and respectful of all creation — The Late Chief Arnold General. (Hereditary Chief from the Onondaga Tribe, Beaver Clan , Six Nations Reserve)
RED WOLF introduces the sensitive topic of residential schools and colonialism to students, making a great "read-aloud" for Grades 4-6, or an excellent novel study for Grades 7-12. It shows the mistakes of the past, encourages compassion and understanding, and provokes discussions on racism and bullying today. Red Wolf is an equally informative read for adults who have little understanding of the residential school system in Canada.
Moonbeam medal winner.
Silver Birch and MYRCA nominee.
In the late 1800s, both wolves and Native people are being forced from the land. Starving and lonely, an orphaned timber wolf is befriended by a boy named Red Wolf. But under the Indian Act, Red Wolf is forced to attend residential school far from the life he knows. And the wolf is alone once more. Courage, love and fate reunite the pair, and they embark on a perilous journey home. But with winter closing in, will they survive, and if they do, what will they find?
Canada is one of the most multicultural and tolerant countries in the world. That’s why millions of immigrants have come here, to escape persecution and live in freedom. It’s why I came in 1979, looking for a place where my bi-racial children could grow up in safety and have equal opportunity regardless of skin colour. So it’s hard to comprehend that while the Canadian government gave immigrants the opportunity for a better life, they behaved so badly toward Indigenous People.
In June 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed the long and painful task of recording the personal experiences of residential school survivors from all over Canada. Justice Murray Sinclair, who chaired this daunting project, concluded that, “the residential school experience is clearly one of the darkest and most troubling chapters in our collective history… leaving in its path the pain and despair felt by thousands of Indigenous people today.”
Justice Murray Sinclair challenges all Canadians to be part of the reconciliation process. So what is reconciliation? The dictionary definition includes restoring to friendship or harmony/resolving difficulties. It means making things right. But how can we make things right if we don’t know what’s wrong. The first step toward reconciliation is learning the truth. Thanks to the voluntary testimony of over 6,750 survivors as well as school staff, we now know the truth. We can no longer ignore or deny that 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their homes and families for one reason alone: they were Indigenous. We can also no longer deny that the rift between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada today is very real, and is largely due to the residential school system.
During the 140 years in which Indigenous children were being taught that they were inferior, white children were being taught that they themselves were superior. Ever since settlers arrived here, this colonial mentality has been alive and well in Canadian classrooms. But children are not born racist. Racism and prejudice are learned.
The hope of true reconciliation lies with the youth of today, and with their teachers and educators. Just as systemic racism was taught in the old schools, it can be “untaught” in today’s schools. Elementary school teachers in Ontario are now required to teach a unit on residential schools. This is a big step in the right direction, however most teachers were not taught anything about residential schools or the Indian Act when they were in school, because this shameful part of Canadian history had been silenced. Over the last few years many teachers have commented that Red Wolf has opened their eyes to this difficult subject, helping them to teach their students. A teacher recently tweeted that her act of reconciliation is to read Red Wolf in her classroom! My act of reconciliation was to write it!
We have described for you a mountain. We have shown you a path to the top. We call upon you to do the climbing - Murray Sinclair
TRAILER for RED WOLF
Historical fiction for middle-grade and young adult readers, Red Wolf exposes a hidden part of Canadian history: 150,000 Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools a long way from home. This is the story of one such stolen child and the timber wolf who was his friend.