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Touring In: British Columbia (Northern Region)

Craft: author

Genre: picture books, YA, hi-lo, non-fiction

Ideal Audience Size: single class or entire grades

Maximum Audience Size: 120

Grades: Grades 6-12; younger groups are a possibility as well.

Special Equipment: Projector for PowerPoint presentation.

Website: www.melanieflorence.com

Winner of the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
2011 American Indian Library Association Honor Book

Presentation Information

My most popular presentation last year was about the history of Indigenous people in Canada and in particular, the history of residential schools. My goal with this presentation is to give the audience a more personal and immersive experience with the history than they’d read in books or be given in class. As the granddaughter of a residential school survivor, I rely on details that are sometimes graphic and always effective. I also talk about the inter-generational impact of residential schools.

We also usually get a chance to talk about other issues affecting Indigenous people, such as the lack of clean water on reserves, the missing and murdered indigenous women and high suicide rates.

I usually do a reading and if time permits, we can do a writing exercise.

For younger children, I can talk about traditional storytelling, including trickster stories and legends and we can work on a craft together usually a dream catcher. I can provide a list of supplies which are pretty simple and usually on hand.

Book List

Glass Gardens (Skyhorse Publishing, July 2017)

He Who Dreams (Orca Book Publishers, 2017)

Zero Future (Lorimer, 2017)

Stolen Words (Second Story Press, 2017)

The Missing (Lorimer, 2016)

Rez Runaway (Lorimer, 2016)

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools (Formac, 2015)

Missing Nimama. Illustrated by Francois Thisdale. (Clockwise Press, 2015)

One Night (Lorimer, 2015)

Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows and of the First Inuk to Play in the NHL (Lorimer, 2010)

Biography

I have always been a writer. As soon as I was old enough, I started making up stories and telling them to my parents and my friends. I would write stories down and then staple them together to make my own books. When I started writing, I was drawn to telling stories about my own culture and felt passionate about giving a voice to people who may not have that luxury, such as with my book, Missing Nimama. I like to write strong Aboriginal characters and tell stories that I feel need to be told. I have written everything from picture books to novels and non-fiction and I almost always write about Indigenous issues with non-cliché Indigenous characters.

Twitter: @mflowrites

Awards

Missing Nimama

  • Winner of the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award

Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential School

  • Ontario Library Association’s Best Bet 2015

Jordin Tootoo: The Highs and Lows of the First Inuk to Play in the NHL

  • 2011 American Indian Library Association Honor Book

Praise for Melanie Florence

“On behalf of Southpointe Academy and the ISABC, I would like to thank you for sharing your wisdom and stories with us. It was probably difficult to feel the mood over Skype but you should know that you deeply moved the audience. The discussion continued into lunch. Your message was powerful and one I know I will never forget. Your passion for your important work had a definite impact on all of us. Thank you so very much.”
—Cori Kusel, Senior School Vice Principal, Southpointe Academy

“Thank you for coming. The students enjoyed listening to you and were fascinated by you. They are at a difficult age where they are becoming aware of themselves in relation to the world around them. I have tried to instill the importance of education through personal reading but sometimes they need to meet successful people like you Melanie.”
—Tahia Bakir, George Webster Public School

“I deeply respect your work. We would be honoured to have your support in our courses. Your book is amazing and is loved by many teachers. We would love to share it with more people.”
—Kevin Lamoureux, Associate Vice President, Indigenous Affairs, University of Winnipeg

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