Book Club

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Watch the recording here!

 

Tessa McWatt is all too familiar with the question, “what are you?  

She has been called Susie Wong, Pocahontas, and "black bitch," and has been judged not black enough by people who assume she straightens her hair. Now, through a close examination of her own body, she asks why we persist in thinking in terms of race today when racism is killing us.  

Shame on Me  is a personal and powerful exploration of history and identity, colour, and desire from a writer who, having been plagued with confusion about her race all her life, has at last found kinship and solidarity in story. 

Join us for our 6th annual Youth Book Club as we engage in important discussion about the intersection of race and identity, facilitated by the author herself and members of our Youth Advisory Committee.  

About the Author 

tessaTessa McWatt is the author of seven novels and two books for young people. Her fiction and non-fiction have been nominated for the Governor General's Award, the City of Toronto Book Awards, and the OCM Bocas Prize.  

She is the co-editor, along with Dionne Brand and Rabindranath Maharaj, of Luminous Ink: Writers on Writing in Canada. Her first picture book for children, Where Are You Agnes?, is based on the life of abstract expressionist painter Agnes Martin. She is one of the winners of the Eccles British Library Award 2018, for her memoir: Shame on Me: An Anatomy of Race and Belonging, which also won the Bocas Prize for Non-Fiction 2020 and was a finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction. McWatt is currently the Course Director for the Master's in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia and is on the Board of Trustees at Wasafiri.  

She was born in Guyana, raised in Canada, and now resides in London, UK.  

Event Program  

This virtual event took place via Zoom on February 24th, 2022 from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.  

Schedule:

  • Welcome
  • Author presentation
  • Conversation with the author
  • Closing


Event Package

To support youths attending the Book Club, we have put together an event package of resources that can be found below.

Learn how to access the book through the London Public Library here (PDF)

Find literacy tips from the London Public Library here (PDF)

Video: Digital Collections at the London Public Library

 

Testimonies

Ellah, YAC Chair:

My name is Ellah, and I am the Chair of the Youth Advisory Council. I was fortunate enough to attend this year's book club event which happened on February 24, 2022. I am very excited to share my perspective as an event attendee! The 6th annual book club featured the book "Shame on Me” by Tessa McWatt. The purpose of the book club was to have an open and important conversation about identity, race, and belonging.  

The event started with the blessings and kind words of Elder Myrna, and we then heard from Ashley Hickey, who discussed library resources and how we can access different books both online and offline. She placed particular attention on accessing books that Neighbors, Friends, and Family support. These books range from books that speak on racism, gender-based violence, and inclusivity. We then got to meet Tessa McWatt. Tessa McWatt is a Guyanese-born Canadian writer who wrote: "Shame on Me; an Anatomy of Race and Belonging." Tessa did a fantastic job putting her audience in the same headspace she was in when she wrote the book. This allowed us to understand better why she wrote Shame on Me. After Tessa's presentation, Youth Advisory Council moderators and the audience had an engaging conversation with Tessa about her book, her life and her message to the readers.  

I felt very fortunate to have been a part of this year's book club event as I learned that "Language is more than words." Tessa's inspiration for the book came from a memory she had as an eight-year-old girl. A teacher asked her, "what are you" wanting her to define herself based on race. Through her book, Tessa preaches that belonging is ours to discover. That we should answer the question ", who are you? Rather than, what are you? ". The main lesson that I took away from this experience is defining myself based on who I am and how I treat people from diverse backgrounds. 

I want to extend my gratitude to Elder Myrna, Tessa McWatt, Ashley Hickey, and the team at the Youth Advisory Council that made this event possible.  

Community Talks: Afraid of the Dark with Guyleigh Johnson

March 9, 2021

 

Through prose and poetry, Guyleigh Johnson tells the story of sixteen-year-old Kahlua Thomas. An absent father and an alcoholic mother leave Kahlua feeling neglected, but her real pain stems from being black. She finds it hard surviving in a poor neighbourhood and even tougher society. Trapped by her own insecurities, she cannot relate to the person in the mirror.
The Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children (CREVAWC) is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Please contact us (crevawc@uwo.ca) if you have any particular accommodation requirements or require information in an alternate format.

 

Community Book Club: The Outside Circle, by Patti LaBoucane-Benson • Illustrated by Kelly Mellings

March 2021

LDCSB's Indigenous Education Lead, Tammy Denomme, asks Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson your questions about The Outside Circle.

February 2021

Kelly Mellings discusses his creative process with Faculty of Education’s Indigenous Program Coordinator, Chett Monague.

Senator Patti LaBoucane-Benson is a Métis from Treaty 6 territory in Alberta. She is the first Indigenous woman to hold a leadership position in the Senate. She brings to the role 30 years of experience serving Indigenous families.

Kelly Mellings is an award-winning art director, illustrator, and designer. His work has appeared in comic books, magazines, apps, museum exhibits, and online games, and his clients have included Microsoft and BioWare. He is the co-owner of the acclaimed illustration, animation, and design firm Pulp Studios Inc.