Tanya Talaga follows up Seven Fallen Feathers with this book which is about the rise of suicides in indigenous communities in Canada and other countries around the world. I was happy to read this as a buddy read with one of my Instagram friends and then to be invited to talk about this book on their podcast.
Talaga talks about the reasons we are seeing the rise in suicides, especially in isolated communities by giving some history and background to many of the indigenous issues that are still prevalent today. The fact, that our indigenous people have been taken from their homes, many times forcefully, separated from their families, their culture and the only life they've known. They have had to deal with prejudice, racism, and culture shock. It is our families and our communities that give us dignity and understanding of who we are. When this is absent, our value and purpose is also missing.
The perpetual cycle that began with residential schools, the fact that many communities don't have access to adequate housing or drinking water are all different forms of saying that these things are important, but not important enough for you. This is not something that happened a long time ago. The effects of colonization is very much alive today.
This book is also timely in terms of what is happening with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many parallels have been made here in Canada between how indigenous people and black people have been treated. Reading this book shortly after the death of George Floyd only made me have goosebumps while reading about how indigenous inmates are often subject to inhumane treatment. Talaga tells the story of David Dungay Jr. who had mental health issues. He was tackled by prison guards, pinned to the bed, and everything was caught on video. Twelve times he cries out "I can't breathe" before dying. Sound familiar?
Our country continues to fail our Indigenous people in how they are treated by government, the health care system, law enforcement. There is definitely a systemic problem. The fact that in many isolated Indigenous communities, suicide is a fact of life; it is accepted as something that is going to happen, is horrendously heartbreaking.
All Our Relations is well researched and Tanya Talaga does an excellent job at looking at the facts and presenting them in a logical, clear way. All Canadians should read this book and know what is happening to our own people.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛