When Chanie Wenjack died of exposure in 1966, it triggered the first-ever inquest into the treatment of Indigenous children at Canada's residential schools. Decades later, this searing novella tackles his tragic story.
The first time Canadians heard Chanie Wenjack's story, it was 1967 and it had been months since the 12-year-old Ojibwa boy had died while running away from the residential school he had been forced to attend. At the time, Chanie's tragic fate barely made a dent in our collective consciousness, but 50 years later, Canadian artists—such as Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, graphic novelist and artist Jeff Lemire, electronic music group A Tribe Called Red and author Joseph Boyden—are working to make him a household name. Take, for example, Boyden's latest novella, Wenjack. It's a much shorter read than his last book, The Orenda, but no less critical.
Wenjack follows Chanie on his ill-fated journey home, where, shivering and starving, he's followed by manitous—spirits that take the shape of animals—which observe his journey through sympathetic eyes. Home, you see, is much farther away than Chanie realizes. Wenjack turns a scathing eye on residential schools and reminds us that Chanie's desire for his family, his language and his pet dogs is not a singular story, but, rather, evidence of a dark stain on Canadian history. Boyden continues the difficult conversation of reconciliation by allowing us a glimpse into the frightened mind of a child who only knows that home is where he should be—and that Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School is not it.
Wenjack (Hamish Hamilton Canada)by Joseph Boyden, $12.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins
Photography by Mark Burstyn Image by: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn
Whether you're into historical fiction, page-turning thrillers or revealing memoirs, we've got something for everyone to add to their winter reading list.
Halloween might be the holiday of choice for atmospheric storytelling, but this posthumous collection of short stories by the Queen of Crime, P. D. James, puts a Christmas spin on the whodunit to delightfully macabre effect. The four tales feature a mysterious inheritance, a family reunion gone awry, an illicit affair and a questionable suicide. And while the clues are there, it's not until the final paragraph that the miscreants are revealed. You'll have visions dancing through your head…but they likely won't be sugarplums. — Alexandra Donaldson
The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (Knopf Canada) by P. D. James, $28.
Bridget Jones is back, and this time, she's got a bun in the oven. In Helen Fielding's fourth novel about the British singleton, timed to coincide with a movie covering the same events, our charmingly awkward protagonist is the linchpin in yet another love triangle. Some time after breaking up with Mr. Darcy, they meet again and sparks fly. The trouble is, shortly thereafter, they fly with someone else, too. Then, Bridget realizes she's pregnant, and she doesn't know which man is the father. — Stacy Lee Kong
Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries (Knopf Canada) by Helen Fielding, $30.
In Robert Harris's latest thriller, the Pope's sudden death has triggered the secretive process of electing a new pontiff. Harris lifts the veil on the clandestine negotiations, caustic infighting and taut intrigue as the Holy See transforms the black smoke of dissent to the white smoke of consensus over a heart-pumping 72-hour period. A must for any lover of political fiction, Conclave offers a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the Catholic Church's most critical election. — Jes Watson
Conclave (Random House Canada) by Robert Harris, $25.
It's 1996 and Jack Reacher is still a major in the U.S. army's Military Police Corps. After receiving a medal for a mission, he's ordered to report to night school—a front for an assignment involving the FBI and the CIA. The task: Find an American in Hamburg, Germany, who's trying to sell an unknown entity (a bomb? A bioweapon? Insider info?) to a jihadist organization, then discover what the entity is. Reacher is as confident and skilled as ever, and “the American” is the perfect bad guy: unpredictable, slightly unhinged and obsessed with his ultimate goal. — Andrea Karr
Night School: A Jack Reacher Novel (Delacorte Press) by Lee Child, $37.
Suspenseful weekend read
If you're looking for a clever thriller, The Twenty-Three is your ideal read. The final installment in Linwood Barclay's Promise Falls trilogy wraps up the story of a seemingly cursed town that has seen three years of horrific murders and gruesome stunts tied to the number 23. In this gripping conclusion, citizens all over the town of Promise Falls wake up one morning plagued with dizziness, racing hearts, low blood pressure and vomiting—and the mystery condition is sometimes fatal. What ensues is a dramatic search for the cause of the sudden sickness, all while past grievances, petty rivalries and the discovery of multiple new murder victims threaten to destroy many families already barely hanging on. Barclay is a master of the genre and will keep you up late into the night, torn between savouring every detail and racing to the end. Be sure to read the first two books in the trilogy before diving into this latest juicy read; you'll have a much richer sense of the characters and an even more suspense-filled journey if you follow the series from tip to tail. — AK
No one wants to feel hangry or get hit with a midday crash—but that doesn't mean you have to visit the office vending machine. Instead, curb hunger pangs with these healthier, expert-approved alternatives.
1. Swap: Microwave popcorn for cauliflower popcorn
Even light microwave popcorn can be loaded with sodium, trans fats (which raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol) and artificial colours and flavours, says Kelowna, B.C.–based registered dietitian Tristaca Curley. Instead, cut a head of cauliflower into bite-size pieces, then roast in the oven with some olive or coconut oil and sprinkle with sea salt flakes. This low-calorie, folate- and potassium-rich sub is a satisfying twist on that movie-night favourite.
Photography by Angus Fergusson
2. Swap: Store-bought gorp for DIY trail mix
Ready-made trail mixes can be full of sugar and salt, so create your own snack of walnuts (the nut with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids), unsalted sunflower seeds, dried apple bits and unsweetened shredded coconut. Add chocolate chips for an extra hit of sweetness. "For a tart superfood top-up, add golden berries, which resemble golden raisins," says Toronto-based registered nutritionist Joey Shulman. "They're lower in sugar versus other small berries, and they contain linoleic and oleic acids, which help with fat oxidation." Or add resveratrol-rich mulberries for their antioxidant punch.
3. Swap: Potato Chips for kale chips
"Regular chips contain trans fatty acids, the bad fat that can lead to heart disease and elevated cholesterol," says Shulman. "This superfood alternative is loaded with vitamins A, C and K." Tear kale leaves into bite-size pieces (discard thick stems), toss with olive oil and salt, then roast until crisp.
4. Swap: Salted pretzels for roasted chickpeas
Sure, pretzels may be low in fat, but they're loaded with salt and have no real nutritional value, says Curley. For a crunchy alternative, try oven-roasted chickpeas. These legumes are high in fibre, protein and iron, making them an ideal "fill me up" snack. Toss together chickpeas, olive oil, sea salt and your favourite spice (think smoked paprika, ground cumin, cayenne pepper or garlic powder), then roast until golden brown and crunchy.
5. Swap: Cheese crackers for a seaweed snack
Most crackers are processed carbs laden with artificial colours, preservatives and other additives. "In their place, top a sheet of nori with some canned tuna, smoked salmon or a meat alternative, like grilled tofu," says Curley. The seaweed is super satisfying and guilt-free: There are only five calories per sheet. Plus, sea vegetables are full of vitamins A and C, calcium, iodine (essential for metabolism) and iron.
6. Swap: Chocolate pudding for avocado and cocoa pudding
Chocolate puddings can be drowning in high-fructose corn syrup. For a healthier treat, mash an avocado, then stir in two tablespoons each of cocoa powder and hemp seeds and a quarter cup of honey, says Curley. This pudding is low in sugar and a great source of monounsaturated fats, vitamin C and fibre.
7. Swap: Granola bars for energy balls
Granola bars can contain as much sugar, fat and refined carbs as a chocolate bar. "Instead, stir together a cup of oatmeal with half a cup each of nut butter, hemp seeds and dried fruit," says Curley. Maple syrup or honey will help it stick together. This homemade option is high in fibre and protein, low in sugar and free of additives.
8. Swap: Chips and dip for hummus and carrot or zucchini coins
Processed foods like chips can raise blood sugar, triggering a release in insulin, which then lowers blood sugar. In the short term, these highs and lows actually increase cravings; in the long run, they can lead to weight gain. Try this clever swap from Curley. Using a mandoline or a sharp knife, slice carrots or zucchini into coins. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake until golden brown and crisp. Serve with a side of hummus. (Brownie points if it's homemade!)
9. Swap: Banana chips for a loaded banana
This snack is often coated in sugar and deep-fried to give it crunch, so choose a fresh banana, which is glycemic index–friendly, suggests Curley. (Foods with a low-GI value are digested more slowly, so they won't cause a spike in blood sugar.) Top the banana with two tablespoons of your favourite nut butter, then roll it in hemp seeds. "You'll get a slow, steady rise in your blood sugar, so you'll feel full for longer," says Curley. Plus, this satisfying switch-up delivers potassium, protein, iron and omega-3s.
10. Swap: Chocolate-covered almonds for apple rings with nut butter
Almonds are a great snack, but when they're coated with chocolate, they turn into a treat. For a healthier option, slice a cored apple into rings. Top each slice with natural peanut, cashew or almond butter and sprinkle with hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. "Apples are loaded with fibre and vitamin C," says Shulman. "Look for unprocessed nut butters; they're rich in good fats, which contain essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and monounsaturated fats."