Muinji'j Asks Why
The Story of the Mi'kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential Schoo
by Shanika MacEachern; Muinji'j MacEachern
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 04 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 10 Feb 2022
When seven-year-old Muinji’j comes home from school one day, her Nana and Papa can tell right away that she’s upset. Her teacher has been speaking about the residential schools. Unlike most of her fellow students, Muinji’j has always known about the residential schools. But what she doesn’t understand is why the schools existed and why children would have died there.
Nana and Papa take Muinji’j aside and tell her the whole story, from the beginning. They help her understand all of the decisions that were made for the Mi’kmaq, not with the Mi’kmaq, and how those decisions hurt her people. They tell her the story of her people before their traditional ways were made illegal, before they were separated and sent to reservations, before their words, their beliefs, and eventually, their children, were taken from them.
A poignant, honest, and necessary book featuring brilliant artwork from Mi’kmaw artist Zeta Paul and words inspired by Muinji’j MacEachern’s true story, Muinji’j Asks Why will inspire conversation, understanding, and allyship for readers of all ages.
A Note From the Publisher
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Muinji'j Asks Why by Shanika MacEachern; Muinji'j MacEachern is an amazing #ownvoices children's picture book about Indian boarding schools. The story starts when seven year-old Muinji'j asks her parents to tell her about residential schools. The rest of the story is told by her parents as they tell her about what happened in the schools and the consequences of Indigenous peoples over time. According to the description, this book "will inspire conversation, understanding, and allyship for readers of all ages."
Overall, Muinji'j Asks Why is a wonderful and educational book that would work perfectly in an elementary school classroom or in an ESL classroom for the upper grades. The book perfectly encapsulates the history and consequences of Indian boarding schools, making it appropriate for kids without cheapening the content. One highlight of this book is that it tells a much-needed story that is often not taught as part of history books. This book is an act of resistance and resilience. Another highlight of this book are the detailed and beautiful drawings.
If you're intrigued by the description, or if you want to teach someone about Indigenous history, I highly recommend that you check out this book, which is available now!
I confess, I don’t know how to write this review. I want to be so careful with how I write so as not to hurt people who have already received a world of pain and grief. But I do believe this book is important, therefore I want to share about it. So, I’ll do my best to speak carefully and I beg forgiveness if I am in any way insensitive.
“Muinji’j Asks Why” is the story of a young Mikmaq girl. After Muinji’j’s teacher inaccurately talks about residential schools, Muinji’j goes home upset and tells her grandparents. Nana and Papa decide to tell Muinji’j the real story about residential schools. From a free Mikmaq people to life on reservations to having their children forcibly ripped away from them, they slowly reveal, bit by bit, the painful tragedy.
I’ll refrain from talking about the tragic details of residential school life here, as I don’t want to make things more difficult for any hurt people who may see my review. Suffice it to say, life at the residential schools was hard and nightmarish.
This book was written and illustrated by three Mikmaq people – Muinji’j and Shanika MacEachern, and Zeta Paul. The illustrations are authentic and compelling, and the story is gripping and devastating. This book may be too hard for some people to read, especially people who have been affected by the residential school system.
I recommend this book to anyone who does not know the truth about residential schools. The book is geared toward children and would be a good way to introduce them to the subject, but adults need to hear the truth as well. “Muinji’j Asks Why” is set in Canada, but residential schools are a horrible part of American history too. We need to come to grips with our country’s past. We need repentance and reconciliation. We need books like this.
"Muinji'j Asks Why: The Story of the Mi'kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School" by Shanika MacEachern and Muinji'j MacEachern is a very educational and accessible children's picture book, about the dark truth of residential schools in Canada. Despite the difficult subject matter, the book presents the history of the Mi'kmaq people, their struggles, and the horrors they were put through in a way that is accessible to young children. While the history is far more horrible, and there's a lot of other resources to learn from out there, this picture book can also serve as a good starting point for (young) adults.
The illustrations are beautiful and vibrant. They accompany the story very well and transmit a lot of emotion. I think this book is perfectly suited for elementary school-age children, and should definitely be a part of a classroom/school library.
Thank you to NetGalley and Nimbus Publishing for the e-arc in exchange for my honest review.
Muinji'j Asks Why is a children's picture book that tackles a difficult material in a bluntly honest but tactful way. After hearing conflicting information about Native residential schools at school, Muinji'j comes home to ask her grandparents to tell her the truth about residential schools. This is an important own voices book that needs to be in schools across the US and Canada.
Thank you to netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review!
(!) Information found in this book can be difficult for some readers. Learning about the realities of Indian Residential Schools can bring forward many emotions for survivors, their ancestors, and for other readers who have experienced trauma in their own lives. We respectfully ask that you be aware of this as you read, or read to others. For those in need of counselling, the Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line, is reachable at 1-800-721-0066, is available 24-hours a day.
“Muinji’j Asks Why: The Story of the Mi’kmaq and the Shubenacadie Residential School” tells the story of the Mi’kmaq people on the east coast of Canada in a way that is easy to understand, especially for younger readers or anyone not aware of residential schools. The beautiful illustrations help to bring the story to life and add to the overall understanding. Having read Isabella Knockwood’s, “Out of the Depths: The Experiences of Mi’kmaw Children at Indian Residential Schools at Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia”, I was aware of the content that may be included in this book. I would not hesitate to recommend “Muinji’j Asks Why” to educators of all grade levels as it details an important piece of history that everyone should be aware of.
Wow! What a FABULOUS book! As a grade 3/4 teacher, I can’t wait to order copies for my classroom library. Just this year I was thinking about how there are so many great residential schools stories, but none that I’ve found explain why the colonizers created the schools in a way that young children could understand. My students were really hung up on this question of why they wanted assimilation and I really struggled to find ways to make it clear to them. This book would have been the perfect resource to have that conversation. It is extremely well written in a way that is easy for children to understand while still telling the message. Death is mentioned and abuse is carefully touched on without going into too many details. I would say this is a perfect k-5 resource. The book also mentions treaties, reserves and indigenous cultures pre- and post-colonization. I can’t say enough how great I think this book is, if you’re a Canadian elementary teacher, you need this book. I am so appreciative of Netgalley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book for free in return for an honest review. I plan to buy two copies of this book once it is on sale, one for my classroom and one to donate to another teacher because I believe so strongly that this is a great book!