“It is and has been such important work. So many people would be standing alone in courtrooms without the work of the Courtworkers” – Michelle Good
November 7, 2022 – Michelle Good is a Cree writer and a member of the Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After working for Indigenous organizations for twenty-five years, she obtained a law degree and advocated for residential school survivors for over fourteen years. Good earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia while still practicing law and managing her own law firm. Michelle now lives and writes in the southern interior of British Columbia.
Five Little Indians has been nominated or won virtually every Canadian literary award possible. It is an enormously powerful book and a must read for all Canadians trying to understand the impact and damage done by residential schools. The characters and the relationships between them are wonderfully and sensitively depicted.
Kenny, Lucy, Clara, Howie and Maisie are Indigenous children taken away from their parents and forced into an isolated residential school on the coast of British Columbia in the late 1960s. The reader spends a brief period of time with them while at the school, learning how they either escaped, or aged out of it, but the majority of the book focuses on their time as adults, most of them living in the seedy Eastside of Vancouver. Because these characters attended residential school in the 60s and 70s its easy to dismiss this as a long-ago problem, even though the last residential school didn’t close in Canada until 1996. Over decades they cross paths and struggle with the thing they all share — trauma.
Good does not dwell exclusively on the residential school system. She certainly exposes the sexual and physical abuse which was rife at the Mission, but the story she tells focuses more on the post-traumatic period and survivorship in the outside world that treats these young people as if they are throwaways.
Five Little Indians follows the lives of five young adults as they grapple with life after ‘Indian School’ in the 1960s. From their prison-like residential school on Vancouver Island, they are turfed onto the streets of Vancouver with no support, money, family connections or life skills
We are honoured that Michelle Good gave us permission to quote her words about our Vancouver Native Courtworkers services during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s that supported her characters and provided an opportunity for employment stating, “this was about those people standing helpless before the law, often for just trying to get by in the world they’d been abandoned to, entirely unprepared.”
Michelle Good’s Five Little Indians is a heart-breaking account of lives shaped and destroyed by the residential school system. Here is powerful testimony, expertly crafted and wisely observed, tragic yet full of redemptive moments. An unflinching, compassionate, and moving novel about the struggle to live and love in the wake of deep trauma.”