Namwayut: We Are All One: A Journey to Reconciliation

We Are All One: A Journey to Reconciliation

by Chief Robert Joseph
Page Two Books., 2022
ISBN 978-1-77458-005-9 (hc)
$29.95, 280 pp, ages 16+

This is the life story of a Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk people. It begins with an idyllic Indigenous upbringing on Gilford Island in the early 1940s that was brutally ended by Canada’s residential school system. What follows is sometimes very difficult to read—essentially, it tells of a decade- long period of vicious emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of racist “caregivers” who oversaw Alert Bay’s St. Michael’s Indian Residential School. Although exceptionally bright and hard-working, Joseph spent his early adulthood bouncing from job to job (fisher, logger, newspaper reporter, community organizer), with the only constant being heavy drinking. Eventually, his family left him, and he had an epiphany: human beings are all one. The path forward included a commitment to sobriety and a deep embrace of his cultural heritage (including the once-banned Potlatch). By the early 2000s, he was a national figure in the push for Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a passionate advocate for cooperation, understanding, and forgiveness.

Classroom Connections: While I couldn’t find a suggested age range for the intended audience, in light of some of the content, my recommendation is Namwayut should be reserved for senior high school students or post-secondary classes, or read for your own interest in reconciliation. A glossary and short bibliography are included.

Review by George Sheppard.

This review is featured in Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Winter 2023 issue.

You may also like