"Just Talking About Ourselves": Voices of Our Youth


113 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-919441-62-9
DDC C810.8'09283





Edited by Marlena Dolan
Illustrations by Marlena Dolan
Reviewed by Kelly L. Green

Kelly L. Green is the co-editor of the Children’s Literature edition
of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


This Native youth writing project was a joint effort of British
Columbia’s En’owkin Centre and a Health Canada initiative called
Canada’s Drug Strategy. Native children and young people wrote poems,
essays, letters, legends, and stories, and created original artwork for
the project. The result is by turns gripping, sad, touching, and
overwhelming. The young writers wrote of their feelings of connection
with (or disconnection from) their ancestral home, of their own and
their families’ experiences with substance abuse, and on many other
topics, including friendship, love, respect, fear, and great courage.
They shared their own experiences and feelings in the hope that other
young Native people, experiencing some of the same drug, family, or
societal problems, might not feel isolated but would rather learn that
it is possible to be tried by fire and survive.

Many of the writers tell gripping personal stories. Others rely on
metaphor, legend, or graphic art to make their points. A few of the
selections are convoluted or difficult to comprehend, but the vast
majority have considerable expressive power. The editors chose not to
correct many grammatical errors, a policy that, rather than reinforcing
the young writers’ individual voices, occasionally distracts the
reader from the message. Recommended as an illuminating experience for
adolescent readers with an interest in these issues, and for anyone
working with troubled youth.


Dolan, Marlena., “"Just Talking About Ourselves": Voices of Our Youth,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20307.