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  • Unreconciled

  • Family, Truth, and Indigenous Resistance
  • Written by: Jesse Wente
  • Narrated by: Jesse Wente
  • Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Biographies & Memoirs
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars (147 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED for the 2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

"Unreconciled is one hell of a good book. Jesse Wente’s narrative moves effortlessly from the personal to the historical to the contemporary. Very powerful, and a joy to read."
—Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian and Sufferance

A prominent Indigenous voice uncovers the lies and myths that affect relations between white and Indigenous peoples and the power of narrative to emphasize truth over comfort.

Part memoir and part manifesto, Unreconciled is a stirring call to arms to put truth over the flawed concept of reconciliation, and to build a new, respectful relationship between the nation of Canada and Indigenous peoples.

Jesse Wente remembers the exact moment he realized that he was a certain kind of Indian—a stereotypical cartoon Indian. He was playing softball as a child when the opposing team began to war-whoop when he was at bat. It was just one of many incidents that formed Wente's understanding of what it means to be a modern Indigenous person in a society still overwhelmingly colonial in its attitudes and institutions.

As the child of an American father and an Anishinaabe mother, Wente grew up in Toronto with frequent visits to the reserve where his maternal relations lived. By exploring his family's history, including his grandmother's experience in residential school, and citing his own frequent incidents of racial profiling by police who'd stop him on the streets, Wente unpacks the discrepancies between his personal identity and how non-Indigenous people view him.

Wente analyzes and gives voice to the differences between Hollywood portrayals of Indigenous peoples and lived culture. Through the lens of art, pop culture, and personal stories, and with disarming humour, he links his love of baseball and movies to such issues as cultural appropriation, Indigenous representation and identity, and Indigenous narrative sovereignty. Indeed, he argues that storytelling in all its forms is one of Indigenous peoples' best weapons in the fight to reclaim their rightful place.

Wente explores and exposes the lies that Canada tells itself, unravels "the two founding nations" myth, and insists that the notion of "reconciliation" is not a realistic path forward. Peace between First Nations and the state of Canada can't be recovered through reconciliation—because no such relationship ever existed.

©2021 Jesse Wente (P)2021 Penguin Canada

What the critics say

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED for the 2022 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize

A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

"Unreconciled is one hell of a good book. Jesse Wente’s narrative moves effortlessly from the personal to the historical to the contemporary. Very powerful, and a joy to read." —Thomas King, author of The Inconvenient Indian and Sufferance

 “With Unreconciled, Jesse Wente proves himself to be one of the most influential Anishinaabe thinkers of our time. By telling his own story, Jesse provides Canada with an essential roadmap of how to move forward  through the myth of reconciliation towards the possibility of a just country. There is much work to be done but reading Jesse’s words, soaking them in and letting them settle in your mind, will set us all on the right path.” —Tanya Talaga, bestselling author of Seven Fallen Feathers

Mahsi cho, Jesse Wente, for illuminating the biggest issue facing Canada’s relationship with Indigenous people: Canada fears Indigenous people because Canada is terrified of our power. Each language class, culture camp, graduation ceremony, each Supreme Court Ruling, each Treaty (that wasn't forged), each feast and naming ceremony… is part of the incredible Reclaiming happening right now. Please read this book. It's an infuriating read but a necessary one.” —Richard Van Camp, author of The Lesser Blessed and Moccasin Square Gardens

What listeners say about Unreconciled

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Brilliant Must Listen/Read for all Canadians

I appreciate everything the author has put forth in this book. As a indigenous woman and a mother of 4, I would love more Canadians to listen and take to heart what Jesse Wente has to say for more understanding and thoughtfulness towards indigenous people. Thank you.

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Excellent listen!

This should be required listening for all Canadians! Listening to Wente read it himself was a big bonus.

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A perfect blend of history and biography

This book is eye opening and shares way more history than I expected. I have read many indigenous writers and Jesse does such a good job of telling us the facts but relating it back to his own life, there are time when I was I tears hearing the emotion and turmoil in Jesse’s voice. I wish everyone in Canada could read this book and I will be recommending it to all my family and friends.

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Essential Indigenous truth-telling

Jesse Wente shares his experience that many Indigenous people can nod their heads to. He brilliantly articulates the weight and burden that Indigenous people continue to carry as Canadians pursue reconciliation. A must read for anyone truly committed to anti-Indigenous racism work in Canada.

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Supplement to Healing

I had to read this book for a University Class. As a woman of color whos family experienced racism while living in the US, I felt as though Jesse and I were kin. His historical, personal and ethical dialectics in writing this book will bring awareness and healing to many. I appreciate this book for the truth it gives. Thank you Jesse! Blessings

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  • jam
  • 2021-11-07

essential reading for Canadians

this guy went from a low-key interest to a low-key gyro for me throughout the course of this book. started off rather slow, but was well worth it and finished with an impressive and cathartic punch.

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Exercise in empathy and challenge

I would highly recommend this book to every Canadian. Jesse Wente has shared his journey, heart and soul in this challenging read. If you want to grow in empathy and understand more (speaking as a white settler) about what we need to do to dismantle the myths we have wanted to believe about Canada- this is a must read! I felt lovingly smacked in the face with harsh realities that lead to some painful self examination AND overall felt more hope even amidst the pain that healing may be possible. Thank you for the truth Jesse!

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Very informative

A joy to listen to. It gives you so much to think about. It made me think about all the flip comments I have made in my life that I did not realize how it would sound to others. I will be more careful in the future. I did find a few things in the last few chapters were a bit much and could not align my thoughts with. Over all it was a great listen and I learned a lot and would recommend it to anyone who thinks that white privilege does not exist.

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Unreconciled

I enjoyed this book immensely. As a non indigenous person it was a sobering look at what we as generations of settlers to CANADA have put the true founders of this Country through! I have gained a huge respect for our indigenous peoples and have begun to take courses from the UofAlberta to help me understand more just how we have come to be here at this crossroad of our history and will continue to listen to many more books written telling their stories so I can truly understand the anguish and pain we have put our indigenous peoples through and how we can help heal our nation one step at a time…thank you for writing this book and sharing your story…

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worth the listen

insightful and unflinching. a criticism of colonial Canada and an honest love of Canadians.
if you want to understand some of the issues facing Indigenous people in Canada.