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Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Launch- Monique Gray-Smith Launches New Book Tilly on September 29, 2013 at Cafe Prop in Toronto (3-5pm)

Powerful First Nations Speaker Places Resilience at the Heart of Life’s Work – Launches New Book at Café Prop in Toronto

When Monique Gray Smith launches her book in Toronto on September 29th she will be introduced and welcomed by Elder Kahontakwas (Diane) Longboat and surrounded by friends, colleagues, and supporters - quite an accomplishment for someone whose life story could have turned out quite differently.

By the age of 11, Gray Smith had discovered the delights of alcohol with a group of friends from school. Her journey through addiction, recovery, and beyond is told in the semi-autobiographical novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience, a book that also explores the history of Indigenous people in Canada. The launch of Tilly in Toronto is just one of several appearances for BC-based Gray Smith, who will be sharing her message of resilience with various groups and organizations during her Ontario visit.

“So many wise and wonderful people helped me during my recovery [from alcohol addiction]. What a gift to be able to give back to the community by sharing some of what I have learned.”

Now a successful consultant, and motivational speaker, Gray Smith travels across the country, delivering her message that Indigenous teachings, families, and communities can be powerful and positive forces in shaping individuals. Her own core of strength and determination allowed her to mature into a thoughtful, articulate communicator who acknowledges the power of traditional teachings in her own life.

Her talks at the Building Indigenous Early Learning Competencies Conference in Toronto on September 25th focus on nurturing resilience in First Nations families and communities. During her time in Ontario, Gray Smith will present to Native Child and Family Services staff, foster parents, the Ontario Aboriginal Head Start Association, and various community partners. Whenever she speaks, Gray Smith encourages health care, educational professionals, community members, and families to weave Indigenous culture into all aspects of their programming, practice, and everyday life.

“What strikes me is just how resilient our communities are,” Gray Smith says, describing how her life’s work as a consultant and motivational speaker now focuses on ways for communities to heal and move forward. “Nurturing, loving, and fostering the potential of each and every child is one of the most profound ways to make a positive difference in the world. Doing that in an appropriate cultural context is essential.” Her professional talks explore these ideas, but her book, Tilly shares this message in a very personal way.

“Yes, there is a lot of my story in Tilly,” she says, “but as I wrote the book, the stories of many others came to me as well and I feel honoured to share them with a wider audience.” In Tilly, characters speak about the Sixties Scoop, residential schools, and TB hospitals. They also talk about the importance of traditional teachings, dreams, family, and community. Though written from an Indigenous perspective, in fact, the lessons learned apply equally to anyone interested in building stronger communities.

Monique Gray Smith launches her book Tilly at:
Café Prop

770 St. Clair Ave. West (corner of Arlington and St. Clair)
Sunday, September 29th: 3pm – 5pm
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres at 3 pm, author talk at 3:30 pm
For those wishing to more deeply explore the ideas expressed in Tilly, the conversation continues over dinner after the conclusion of the book launch.

Special guests include Diane Longboat, Kahontakwas, Turtle Clan woman from Six Nations. Kahontakwas is a ceremonial leader, traditional teacher of Indigenous spiritual ways, and a healer. A professional educator, she has a graduate degree in education and has taught and lectured at Universities in Canada and many national and international conferences and gatherings on the topics of spiritual renewal as the guiding force for nation building.

Keynote Speaker and Presenter
September 25th
Building Indigenous Early Learning Competencies Conference

More information: Humber College  416-675-3111

A cover scan, author photo, and additional information are available for download from the Media Zone at

What People Are Saying…
“What a gorgeous read! Wow! I’ve been waiting for a book like this for years. Mahsi cho, Monique Gray Smith, for digging so deep to create something so loving and nurturing for the world.” Richard Van Camp

"I have a completely new understanding of what it means to be Aboriginal in Canada.” Rachel Franklin

“A brave new voice ready to take her place among the great contemporary storytellers, Gray Smith breaks her own trails as she explores what it means to be Indigenous in a modern world.” Christy Jordan-Fenton

To request review copies or arrange author interviews, please contact Diane Morriss at 1-800-370-5228 or

About the Book:
Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience
Tilly has always known she’s part Lakota on her dad’s side. She’s grown up with the traditional teachings of her grandma, relishing the life lessons of her beloved mentor. But it isn’t until an angry man shouts something on the street that Tilly realizes her mom is Aboriginal, too—a Cree woman taken from her own parents as a baby.

Tilly feels her mother’s pain deeply. She’s always had trouble fitting in at school, and when her grandma dies unexpectedly, her anchor is gone. Then Abby, a grade seven classmate, invites her home for lunch and offers her “something special” to drink. Nothing has prepared Tilly for the tingling in her legs, the buzz in her head and the awesome feeling that she can do anything. From then on, partying seems to offer an escape from her insecurities. But after one dangerously drunken evening, Tilly knows she has to change. Summoning her courage, she begins the long journey to finding pride in herself and her heritage. Just when she needs it most, a mysterious stranger offers some wise counsel: “Never question who you are or who your people are. It’s in your eyes. I know it’s in your heart.”

Loosely based on author Monique Gray Smith’s own life, this revealing, important work of creative non-fiction tells the story of a young Indigenous woman coming of age in Canada in the 1980s. With compassion, insight and humour, Gray Smith illuminates the 20th-century history of Canada’s First Peoples—forced displacement, residen­tial schools, tuberculosis hospitals, the Sixties Scoop. In a spirit of hope, this unique story captures the irrepressible resilience of Tilly, and of Indigenous peoples everywhere.

CREATIVE NON-FICTION • Ages 14+ • 190 pp • 5.5 x 8.5
ISBN 978-1-55039-209-8 • paper • $19.95 • July 2013 release

About the Author:
Monique Gray Smith holds a diploma in psychiatric  nursing and is an expert in aboriginal education in the early years. She  is a mixed-heritage woman of Cree, Lakota and Scottish ancestry and a proud mom of young twins. Under the umbrella of her own business, Little Drum Consulting, Monique is an accomplished consultant, writer and international speaker. She is well known for her warmth, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience. Monique has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 20 years. She and her family live on Coast Salish territory in Victoria, B.C.

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