The steps of Algoma University were lined this summer with pairs of children’s shoes in a spontaneous communal act of mourning. While students were finally returning to in-person classes in September, the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association was leading the Algoma University community in the difficult work of searching for unmarked graves on the former grounds of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School. It is fitting, therefore, that Algoma Reads concludes this fall on 7 December with a virtual visit by Joshua Whitehead to discuss his moving story of Indigiqueer survival and self-making, Jonny Appleseed.
One of Jonny’s friends tells him admiringly, “you can sure take a heck of a beating” and Jonny Appleseed is a challenging read because of the many beatings – both physical and emotional – that we see Jonny endure. But this novel is also about love between friends and within families, and about coming home. We watch Jonny struggle to find a way to be himself and discover the powerful truth that he is his own medicine.
Joshua Whitehead identifies as an Oji-Cree/nehiyaw, Two-Spirit/Indigiqueer member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). Jonny Appleseed is his first novel and has rocketed him to literary eminence. He is the first Indigenous author to win CBC Canada Reads and was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction. Jonny Appleseed was also longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year alongside receiving many other prominent accolades and prizes.
If you would like to join us to hear this exciting author discuss his work with Algoma University students at 4 pm on Tuesday, 7 December, please email [email protected] to register and receive the Google Meet link. The event is free. All welcome.