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The physical challenges of being born with hydrocephalus are nothing compared to the wretched emotional circumstances that plague Junior's life on the reservation. The daily grind of abject poverty, addiction and abuse lead him to an English school in the hope that education will provide an escape. Despite the constant bullying from white students and the abandonment of his best friend, Junior refuses to give up. As he uses cartoons to bring humour to an impossible existence he also draws on an inner strength to tear down the walls of prejudice. This gritty novel uses stark reality to highlight the racial disparities still present in contemporary society while providing thoughtful insight into the indomitable power of the human spirit.
(Warning: this book contains strong language and graphic content)
This book supports middle/high school Social Studies and Indigenous Studies outcomes that explore racism, cultural diversity and poverty. Many Canadian First Nations communities are overwhelmed by deplorable living conditions which are often blamed on a lack of government assistance. In the book Junior attributes many of the financial issues in his community to the mismanagement of the casino. Students could learn more about economic empowerment by studying and analyzing the business performance of Indigenous communities that have experienced prosperity.
One of the worst crimes against aboriginal people in Canada was the removal of children from their homes to attend residential school. At the time it was felt that these children needed a proper education. Junior also believes in education but he is able to choose the school he goes to. Students could interview a local survivor of the residential school system to compare and contrast their feelings with Junior’s experience and learn more about the role of assimilation in destroying language and culture. A classroom action project could then centre around a celebration of aboriginal culture where a local First Nations community is invited to share traditional practices with students.
The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a grade listed below.