When We Were Alone

When We Were Alone

Book - 2016
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When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother's garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family? As she asks her grandmother about these things, she is told about life in a residential school a long time ago, where all of these things were taken away. When We Were Alone is a story about a difficult time in history, and, ultimately, one of empowerment and strength.
Publisher: Winnipeg, Manitoba : HighWater Press, [2016]
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781553796732
Characteristics: 1 volume unpaged : color illustrations ; 22 cm


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SPL_Pam Dec 20, 2017

When We Were Alone offers younger children a beautiful and gentle way to learn about the Residential School experience and Reconciliation.

AL_MARY Dec 04, 2017

A young girl visits her grandmother and learns why she always wears colorful clothes, has long hair, speaks her native language and spends time with her family - because when grandmother was young and in a residential school, those things were forbidden. Julie Flett's beautiful illustrations perfectly capture the sorrow of the past as well as the joy and color in grandmother and grandaughter's interactions. David Robertson is a member of the Norway House Cree Nation, while Julie Flett is Cree Métis.

samcmar Nov 22, 2017

I had a friend and colleague recommend this book to me and I was not disappointed. It is a book that offers a beautiful discussion regarding residential schools and First Nations being forced into assimilation. There's a repeated pattern in this book and each time it stings a bit more as you read on. A very informative picture book that will allow for great discussions between parents and their children.

LibrLdyMapleValley Sep 11, 2017

This is a beautiful, gentle, sad and yet hopeful book about a very difficult subject. It will make an excellent conversation starter for older kids who are either studying the era of residential schools for indigenous people or are just curious like the grandchild in the book. It's a time not that far in the past and one that isn't easy to talk about. Social injustice is never easy to talk about but "When We Were Alone" is the perfect way to introduce the topic with younger kids.

forbesrachel Apr 30, 2017

On a quiet day, a Cree woman spends some time with her granddaughter. As they work, the curious child asks her caregiver a series of questions; the answers seem to satisfy her, because she moves on to another thought. With each inquiry, Nókom compares the way things were done in her childhood to the oppression she faced at school, and the lifestyle she now lives. Even though the topic is a sensitive one, the bleakness of that hard time never taints the story. Nókom wants her grandchild to understand that despite the efforts of the residential schools, she never forgot her heritage, and is now free to be true to it and herself. Basically, her story of quiet resistance, in times when they were alone, is meant to empower the next generation. This works so well because of the carefully crafted setup, and the reflective perspective this elderly woman provides. This dichotomy between times of freedom, and that of oppression is conveyed visually through the colours and even composition. At school, at least when they were not alone, the palette is devoid of anything bright or warm, and figures are often distant, offside, and with their backs turned. In contrast, the rest of the images give off a more intimate vibe; characters are close, and colours are more pronounced. Thanks to Robertson's tender prose, and Flett's subtle hand, When We Were Alone will likely allow many children to quietly reflect on a past that they will hopefully never have to experience for themselves.

Apr 21, 2017


Apr 09, 2017

A great book for people who are old enough to comprehend social injustice. Inappropriate for preschoolers, who need to be encouraged in the benefits of school, not the ways in which the government has misapplied education. My 3yo cried and began asking distrusting questions about school. I began paraphrasing as we progressed through the book to avoid doing more damage. Targeted at the totally wrong age group.

kchidiak Apr 04, 2017

An excellent book to introduce children to Canadian history. It is memorable and moving. A must read for all ages!


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Apr 09, 2017

cmwiersma thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over


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