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Archer Book Club: March 2023

Welcome to the Archer Book Club, or the ABC!

Zoom Meeting Information

Zoom information will be provided closer to the planned meeting: 12:00pm-1:00pm, March 22, 2023.

In-person Author Event

The Dr. John Archer Library & Archives and the ta-tawâw Student Centre are pleased to welcome Michelle Good to the university for an in-person event. Please join us at the ta-tawâw Student Centre (Research and Innovation Centre, Room 108) on Friday, March 24th from 11:30 am – 1:00 pm.* Michelle Good will read passages from the novel Five Little Indians, followed by a question and answer session.
*Event postponed.  Updates will be posted once a new date is confirmed.

Selection Of The Month

From the publisher:

Taken from their families when they are very small and sent to a remote, church-run residential school, Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are barely out of childhood when they are finally released after years of detention.

Alone and without any skills, support or families, the teens find their way to the seedy and foreign world of Downtown Eastside Vancouver, where they cling together, striving to find a place of safety and belonging in a world that doesn’t want them. The paths of the five friends cross and crisscross over the decades as they struggle to overcome, or at least forget, the trauma they endured during their years at the Mission.

Fuelled by rage and furious with God, Clara finds her way into the dangerous, highly charged world of the American Indian Movement. Maisie internalizes her pain and continually places herself in dangerous situations. Famous for his daring escapes from the school, Kenny can’t stop running and moves restlessly from job to job—through fishing grounds, orchards and logging camps—trying to outrun his memories and his addiction. Lucy finds peace in motherhood and nurtures a secret compulsive disorder as she waits for Kenny to return to the life they once hoped to share together. After almost beating one of his tormentors to death, Howie serves time in prison, then tries once again to re-enter society and begin life anew.

With compassion and insight, Five Little Indians chronicles the desperate quest of these residential school survivors to come to terms with their past and, ultimately, find a way forward. 

Triggers and Challenging Content

Please be aware that the novel contains potentially triggering and challenging content including but not limited to:
  • Discussions of self-harm
  • Violence and discrimination towards women
  • Violence and discrimination towards children
  • Sexual violence towards adults and children
  • Graphic language, violent images, etc.
Please consider reaching out to university or community support groups if needed.

Discussion Points

Questions adapted from Amnesty International Book Club: Five Little Indians Discussion Guide and London Public Library discussion questions.

  • Michelle Good has said herself, “Trauma is almost like osmosis. When you’re living with people that have trauma responses, you learn those.” This is a common and important thread to each character. How did their trauma manifest and effect their development as they moved through adulthood?
  • Clara has a vulnerable moment with a healer within her community and states, “We were children, me and Lily, and neither of us survived, even though I’m still walking.” What does this mean? How does this manifest in her actions and the ways she interprets the world?
  • Discuss your experience in learning about the Residential School system growing up. Was this discussed within your family, your school, your friend groups, your workplace? Did you learn something new in reading Five Little Indians, if so, what?
  • Why do think Good chose to depict the characters' lives after they had left  the school, and not during their experience there?
  • Each character in the book shows us a different method of coping, healing, and living with the trauma inflicted by the Church and the Canadian government. Which character's story impacted you the most?