Winnipeg-based Cree author’s book returned to Ontario school district’s shelves

A Winnipeg-based Cree author’s book is being returned to library shelves in an Ontario school district, weeks after the school board quietly pulled the book.

On Wednesday, the Durham District School Board announced it would be returning David A. Robertson’s book The Great Bear, along with two other books that had been removed, to its libraries.

The books had been removed pending a review after the school board said Indigenous families within the district brought forward concerns about the book.

“We recognize that the Indigenous families who came forward did so with the attempt to ensure we meet their children’s needs. We also understand that for many families, the importance of accessing books that reflect Indigenous lived realities is critically important,” the Durham District School Board said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

While the school board didn’t immediately elaborate on what the concerns were, in its statement it said they were related to, “Indigenous stereotypes and terminology that could perpetuate discrimination.” Robertson previously told CTV News he was told his book contained ‘too much culture and ceremony’.

The district said it had discussions with the local Indigenous community in an accelerated review process.

“Those discussions have placed the focus on the importance of making books by Indigenous authors available to students, particularly Indigenous students based on providing choice. In response to this feedback, we will be returning the books to library circulation,” the statement reads.

The district said it ‘deeply respects’ the work of Robertson and said it has offered to meet with the author.

In a post on his Instagram page, Robertson thanked the district for its decision, along with the libraries, educators, authors, parents who he said stood with him.

“This means so much for freedom to read, for a kid to have access to books that matter,” Robertson said in the post.

“There’s more work to be done, and I’m committed to working together in a good way.”

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