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One of the required textbooks for First Nations 1020 is “The Inconvenient Indian” by Thomas King. I did not have the typical student-textbook relationship with this book, which consists of reading a few chapters, not using it, and then cramming all the information for finals. Right from the beginning I was lured into the writing style of Thomas King, the different themes that occurred in each chapter, and his bluntness towards social issues was refreshing. I believe this book should be a mandatory read for all Canadian students because it creates a real and uncensored perspective of events that have shaped North America, and talks about the realities of our First Nations people. So teachers throw away those distorted textbooks and educate students with this brilliancy!

The purpose of this read was so we can pick one of the hundreds social issues mentioned in the book, and individually research to become experts on that issue in order to write a research paper. My topic was on racial profiling and I went into depth about starlight tours, police brutality, and the reasons why Aboriginal people are victimized. Through this assignment I was able to realize what I wanted to study in university - Criminology and First Nations Studies, combining my interests in justice and equality for all beings.

Through Thomas King’s writing, I was able to know the true realities about colonization, cultural appropriation, portrayal of Aboriginals in films and media, residential schools, and the land. As someone who is not a fan of non-fiction books, his work was able to capture my interest with the same styles fiction authors use.  Textbooks about histories, treaties, laws and policies can be very complicated and hard to understand, but this book encompasses all the education Canadians need, in order to end ignorance in an understandable manner.

I am going to end this blog with my favourite quote from this book:

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, On second thought, let’s not start with Columbus. Helen was right. Let’s forget Columbus. You know, now that I say it out loud, I even like the sound of it. Forget Columbus…”

December 19, 2014

Written by: Janani Thillainathan

Forget Columbus