CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016
I Am Not a Number is an evocative new picture book by Second Story Press. The title of the book poignantly reflects the story’s prime conflict—the dehumanizing of the Anishinaabe protagonist, Irene Couchie Dupuis, during her time at a residential school. Dupuis is the grandmother of one of the book’s co-authors. The personal relevance of the subject matter to Jenny Kay Dupuis comes through in the strong text she co-wrote with Kathy Kacer. Their abhorrence of the treatment that children received in residential schools is obvious.
Other residential school “episodes” contained within the book include Irene being subjected to harsh punishments, being forced to have her hair cut, being forbidden to use her first language, assignment to various chores, and being issued a school uniform. Such content makes this book a useful resource for primary school educators desirous to introduce children to Canada’s residential school history. The final three pages of the book also contain further explanatory text about the story and about residential schools.
Dr. Gregory Bryan specialises in literature for children. He is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.
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