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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Good for Nothing
by Michel Noel
Age Range: 14+
Set in 1959, this is the story of 15-year-old Nipishish, a young Metis – of mixed
American Indian and French Canadian ancestry – who returns to his reserve in
northern Quebec after having been expelled from his residential school. Back on
his reserve he is still unhappy as he feels it has nothing to offer him. He is sent
to a new school in town where he has to reside with a foster family. Nipishish
finds it difficult to fit in with the white people of the town and begins to become
aware of the discrimination against Indians, although he is, himself, of mixed race.
Rescued by his Indian family from life in the city, he returns to the reserve, where he finally discovers his own identity as an Indian and he starts to fight for his rights and confront the laws that are imposed on the Indians by the white people. Over a period of two years Nipishish develops from an innocent teenager to a conscious and courageous young man who is determined to represent his whole community.
A very thought-provoking novel, based on real incidents of racism and discrimination that the native people have endured in Quebec.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)