All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward

Written by Tanya Talaga

Published in 2018 by House of Anansi Press


Tanya Talaga, is the author of Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City and Toronto Star journalist.  In 2018, she delivered the CBC Massey Lectures Series entitled All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward, which were based on her work as the 2017-18 Atkinson Fellow in Public Policy. Talaga’s Massey lectures were published in a book of the same name, All Our Relations: Finding the Path Forward.

Talaga begins by describing the experience of hearing that seven girls “whose lives had intersected back home or in group homes or care facilities far away from their First Nations communities, took their lives within a year of one another.” Suicide rates for Canadian First Nations youth and adults are devastating; suicide is the leading cause of death among this population. As Talaga points out,

 Indigenous youth suicide is not just a Canadian problem. Across the globe, Indigenous people living in colonized countries share a crushing commonality; their children are dying by their own hands. While there is no global data on how many Indigenous children and youth are taking their own lives, the statistics gathered from colonized nations point to similarities. The first is that suicide is a modern phenomenon with Indigenous Nations. In Canada, before the forced resettlement of Inuit people off the land and into towns, and before the Indian Residential Schools, suicide was uncommon. This also holds true for the Sami population in Scandinavia and the Indigenous people in Brazil and Australia. And in each of these colonized countries, Indigenous young men have among the highest suicide rates globally. (pp. 12-13)

All Our Relations combines meticulous research, statistical data, and historical evidence, along with Talaga’s powerful storytelling skills to explore the legacy of colonization and its connection to the youth suicide crisis among Indigenous communities in Canada and across the globe:

Indigenous children and youth are born under the staggering weight of history: the historical injustices of colonization; the forced removal off the land by extermination or segregation; the cultural genocide effected by government policy and religious indoctrination; the intergenerational trauma stemming from years of poverty, abuse, and identity oppression. They are more often than not displaced, suffering from economic, social, and cultural marginalization that can trigger substance abuse and violence. They are caught between historical and what the United Nations calls ‘present-day dynamics. (pp 15-16)

Thomas King’s words from his 2003 CBC Massey Lectures, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative, serve as a haunting conclusion for All Our Relations: “‘But don’t say in the years to come that you would have lived your life differently if only you had hear this story. You’ve heard it now.’” (p. 220)

Introducing the Author:

The Star


Learning more about the book All Our Relations:

Reviews of All Our Relations:

CBC Books

Quill & Quire

The Ottawa Review of Books

Off the Shelf

Watch an interview with Tanya Talaga here.

Listen to an interview with Tanya Talaga here.

Listen to Tanya Talaga deliver the Massey Lectures here.



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