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I Am Not a Number recounts the story of Irene Couchie, a young Ojibwe girl who gets sent to a residential school. At school, she faces many cruelties, she is punished for speaking her native language and not allowed to use her real name. Instead, she is called by a number, 759. During her time at school, Irene struggles to remember who she is, and she wonders "why everything I knew and loved about who I was and where I had come from was slowly being taken away." This story brings the history of residential schools to a younger audience in a manner that can be shared and understood.
I Am Not a Number makes the story of residential schools more accessible to a younger audience. The book could be used as a read aloud to begin a conversation about residential schools and opens the door to conversations and questions regarding this part of Canadian history. With older students it could be used in a unit about social justice.
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