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Living Library

2016 Human Books


Book Title Description
Walking in the Woods: A Metis Journey What was it like to grow up Metis in rural Alberta during the Depression, set out to work at a logging camp at 15, and go on to achieve great success in business and philanthropy? Life hasn't been without its challenges but this book worked hard and prospered enough to give back to his community. Widely recognized for improving the lives of Aboriginal Albertans through housing and education initiatives, they have been awarded an honorary doctor of laws by the University of Alberta, an honorary diploma by NorQuest College, the Order of Canada, and a National Achievement Award for Housing.  
Born a Criminal I was born a criminal. I lived in shadows and confused and muted fear until I was 25 years old. That was when my own government – Canada, Canadians – declared me no longer an outlaw, conceded I might be less unfit than before. I still had to live in shadows, weighing word and gesture. And then it was another 36 years before I became a full citizen in my own country. That was when I was pronounced fit to marry a person of my choice, of the same sex. Living as "Other" for 61 years takes its toll – adolescence stolen, life prospects constrained, dignity in perpetual danger, rights precarious. But for the lucky ones, for me, resilience trumped risk, gradually intensifying and deepening over a lifetime. 
Am I “Not Homeless” and Adrift?: Homelessness and Letting Go 

A lifelong alcoholic, I became homeless in 2005 and until 2012 cycled through Edmonton’s inner city world, rural working-guest communities as far away as Ontario, an organic farm, and youth camp doing seasonal work. I am currently in my second year at the University of Alberta, working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Native Studies. I served on Students’ Council and various other boards at NorQuest, graduating in 2014 with a diploma in Social Work. Recently, the settling of my mother’s estate, a cross-Canada train journey, a university clown class, two big elections and examinations of my place in the world through my course studies and personal conflicts have brought me through barriers but cast me adrift. I’ve let go of much of who I’ve been, and I’ve not yet crossed the horizon to who I’m becoming. Come drift with me a bit and we’ll see what current might catch us.  

Sequel to 2015's: 'Am I "not homeless"?

Flesh Eating Virus and Destiny  Twenty-one years after a diagnosis with necrotizing fasciitis, and almost succumbing to the disease, I am still discovering how trauma affects and is affected by my Christian beliefs. This book explores the role of faith in our increasingly secular world and its relevance for those struggling with grief or traumatic life experiences. 
It’s Within You: A Refugee Story

I arrived Edmonton, Canada in 2008 with my family after being sponsored by the Canadian government as a Refugee. I want you to know and believe that all is possible. I did not feel sorry for myself having been a refugee, but I knew that with hard work and great determination, the future is determined by what I do now. I am a community activist, published author, NorQuest graduate, and will soon graduate from NAIT with my Bachelor of Business Administration. Look within yourself and you’ll find the answer (s) because you’re capable of greatness. 

(Reprinted in 2017)

Solitary to Social Worker

How can over 12 years in prison, 20 years of injecting drugs and 15 years of homelessness become as asset? This journey may seem surreal but nonetheless real it is and it is mine. Living with mental illness and no purpose for life, only miracles and resilience defines how I survived through prison riots, years in solitary, hunger strikes, beatings, gang wars, inner cities and overdoses. Only through an internal mêlée for right and wrong did my true nature subdue the demons that roamed my clouded mind and I finally came to believe that "I am a good person and I deserve a chance to be happy". Now a husband, father, social worker and entrepreneur, I strive to help others any way I can. 

(Reprinted in 2018)

Guiding Through Death and Loss: A Funeral Director Speaks About Her Career

I feel honoured to be able to take care of someone who can no longer take care of themselves. To be able to curl or set an elderly woman's hair for the last time, or pin a medal or pin of accomplishment on a person's lapel, or just simply tying and straightening a gentleman's tie before his family comes to visit him for the last time is truly a privilege, and I do not take that privilege lightly. Many may wonder why one would choose to become an embalmer or a funeral director. Come and learn about the work I do and why it is such a rewarding career. 

Child Soldier to Social Worker Imagine being 16 years old, supported by your parents all your life and all of a sudden you have to fend for yourself. Fending for yourself means you have to take up an AK47 rifle and fight someone who you do not know. They did not do anything wrong to you but you have to kill them. Imagine being 16 years old and having to relocate to a different country alone to go to school, having to seek your own admissions, pay your tuition and other expenses, yet graduate successfully on time. Child Soldier to Social Worker is a compelling story and a lived experience. It is a story of resilience, survival, perseverance and determination that you should hear. 
Before and After Islet Transplant: Diabetes Research Makes a Difference  Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 11, this book experienced more health challenges than the average child. When serious complications from Type I diabetes arose as an adult, they applied for, and eventually received, an experimental procedure at the University of Alberta Hospital—the now famous Edmonton Protocol which involves transplanting islets from a deceased donor pancreas. Come and learn what living with diabetes has been like, about the results of the transplant, and how things are 10 years later. 
Fragmented Pieces: A Personal Account of Racial Discrimination Often I wonder what goes in people’s minds when they look at me. Is it fear, pity, suspicion, intolerance? I have a story to tell and if you take the time to listen to my narrative, the difficult terrain I’ve had to navigate, the values and virtues I hold dear, the hope that I have for humanity, and maybe just maybe you would get to know me and realize we are not much different you and I. This is my story and it is a story of hope and courage, where I’ve had to pick up the fragmented pieces of my life and move on.
Finding Self  The journey of a transgender woman from awareness and the struggle with self-acceptance, to coming out, transitioning and beyond. It tells the story of the battle to overcome the self-hatred and stigma that lead to self-injury, suicide, and hospitalization, through to the challenges of transitioning and the experience of beginning to live life, as intended, as a woman at the age of 30, to the realities and discrimination that trans people face on a daily basis. Above all it’s the story of the serenity, joy, and hope that emerge from the pursuit of being able to truly accept and be at home within yourself.
Islam: Speaking my Truth “Islam”, a religion established on the foundation of peace, purity, and simplicity, is mostly in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Extremism, terrorism, oppression, and inequality are labels that many attach to Islam and Muslim people. As an independent, modern, well-educated woman who makes her own choices, why do I choose to follow this faith despite its negative connotations? How does it resonate with my values of living a balanced, happy life and striving to serve humanity? 
Going Off Book: Scripting a New Life in a New Country A documentary producer for Al-Jazeera’s children’s channel, a playwright, a feminist, an intellect, a wife, and a mom—this book was separated from her husband by the conflict in Syria and landed in Canada with three children in tow. With negative voices echoing in her head and limited English at her disposal, she had no idea how her story was going to end. Nevertheless, she got herself back into education, back into professional writing, and back into life.