Young Adult: Stories of Change and Transformation

Change happens all the time, all around us. Time passes in a cyclical nature which many Indigenous people measure in cyclical events. We see the changes in the environment around us as the seasons change. As an amusing-to-me aside, it is not uncommon where I’m from to have a day wherein it’s beautiful and sunny one minute, then downpouring rain the next. Wait, is that hail now?! Wait, now it’s snowing … but winter is supposed to be over!

We are in a constant state of change ourselves, as we learn and grow. Some changes, some transformations, can be drastic. Others are much more subtle. Life circumstances can force change upon us, or we may choose a path toward a transformation all on our own. Those who have experienced trauma of some sort in their life may undergo a transformation as a part of their healing journey. For some, there may be a catalyst for change in their life.

In this list, you will find a small sample of young adult books featuring characters on a journey of transformation.

Book cover of Creeboy



Teresa Wouters (Métis)


A good book for reluctant readers, this story follows Josh as he navigates the world of Indigenous gang life. No stranger to gang life, Josh’s dad, the leader of one of the gangs on his reserve, is in jail, and his older brother Darion has taken his place.

Josh is unsure whether gang life is for him — until Darion is killed during a run-in with a rival gang. Angry, hurt, and frustrated by the systemic racism against Indigenous peoples, Josh starts down the path to becoming a full member. Can his family and his community save Josh before his fate becomes that of his father and brother?

Book cover of Powwow Summer

Powwow Summer


Nahanni Shingoose (Saulteaux)


A good book for reluctant readers, this story follows River, who grew up with her mother and stepfather on a farm in Ontario. Part Ojibwe and part white, River was teased about her Indigenous heritage as a young girl. She has felt as if she doesn’t belong for many years and continues to struggle with her identity.

Now 18 and just finished high school, River travels to Winnipeg to spend the summer with her Indigenous father and grandmother where she sees firsthand what it means to be an “urban Indian.”

River learns more than she expects about the lives of Indigenous people and the hardships many continue to struggle with. But River also discovers a deep respect for and connection with the land and her cultural traditions.

The highlight of her summer is attending the annual powwow with her new friends. At the powwow after party, however, River drinks too much and posts photos online that anger people. Soon her right to identify as an Indigenous person is called into question.

As River struggles with figuring out who she is, she has the wisdom of her grandmother to help guide her:

“Everyone is on a different path, and in a different place within that learning journey.”

Book cover of This House Is Not a Home

This House Is Not a Home


Katłįà (Dene/Cree/Métis)


This fictional story based on true events tells the story of Kǫ̀, a Dene man who grew up on the land before being taken to residential school. When he returns home, he struggles to connect with his family and to navigate the colonial way of life. Kǫ̀ is forced to work at the local mine, an industry known for destroying the land. His children seem to be moving farther and farther away from their culture and history. Kǫ̀ wishes to return to the place where his wife was born and live off the land like he had before. But as more time passes, this dream seems further away.

Through Kǫ̀ and his family, readers are able to understand the struggles faced by many Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States. We see the ways in which his community has changed, and a way past the lasting effects of governmental policies to a place in which Indigenous communities are able to re-establish their own sovereignty.

Book cover of Those Pink Mountain Nights

Those Pink Mountain Nights


Jen Ferguson (Michif/Métis)


Kiki, a young Black and Cree woman, has been missing for five months, one in a long line of missing Indigenous women and girls from Alberta, Canada. Her cousin, Cam (Cree), works at a local Black-owned pizzeria called Pink Mountain Pizza, along with Berlin (Métis) and Jessie (non-Native).

Told from these four alternating perspectives, readers learn about each characters’ challenges: Cam struggles with Kiki’s disappearance and has recently dropped out of high school, Berlin is dealing with undiagnosed depression while struggling with coming to terms with her best friend ghosting her, and Jessie is trying to navigate a tense relationship with her misogynistic father.

Through the interweaving of these four stories, each character is given their own voice and flaws to work through as they help each other learn and grow, and readers are able to understand the perspectives of all four.

Book cover of Walking In Two Worlds

Walking in Two Worlds


Wab Kinew (Onigaming First Nation)


Set in the near future, Bagonegiizhigok, or Bugz for short, is a shy and self-conscious Anishinaabe teen living on the Rez. But in the virtual reality game Floraverse, Bugz is not only confident, she’s famous too.

Feng, an Uyghur Muslim teen boy, fled his home in China to escape political persecution and is now living on the Rez with his aunt. Bugz and Feng relate to each other as outsiders as well as avid gamers.

But betrayal threatens everything Bugz has built in the virtual world and outside of it.


The catalyst for change may be something drastic. Transformation may be a part of our healing journey. Or a change could come about simply because we decide that it is time. What can be said for certain is this: with experience comes change.

A headshot of author and artist Jillian Metchooyeah

About the Author

Jillian Metchooyeah

Jillian Metchooyeah is an Indigenous Canadian author/artist. She is a member of the Dene Tha’ First Nation from northern Alberta, Canada. An avid library lover, she has worked in a library for over half of her life. She currently lives in Red Deer, Alberta with her two cats and hedgehog. She loves birds and all things nature.