“Monique was wonderful: personable, passionate, well-organized and truly engaging.” — Ursinus College, 2022

Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her books cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics and emotions. Woven into all of Monique’s writing, speaking engagements and online courses is the teaching that Love is Medicine. In September 2022, she released her 4th children’s picture book, I Hope with Orca Book Publishers. Monique’s most recent book is Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults, which received the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for 2022. Originally written by Robin Wall Kimmerer and the adaptation includes illustrations by Nicole Neidhardt. Monique’s novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was longlisted for Canada Reads 2021. Her newest children’s book, Circle of Love, came out in 2024.

Monique is trained as a Psychiatric Nurse and has worked in various capacities in community and as a consultant since 1990. Her focus has been weaving history, resilience and trauma informed training for educators, social workers, librarians and early childhood teams. She is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC and is the elected President of the Board of Directors for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. In 2019 Monique received the City of Victoria Leadership Award for Reconciliation. Monique is Cree and Scottish and has been sober and involved in her healing journey for over 32 years. She is well known for her storytelling, spirit of generosity and focus on resilience.

Monique’s Authors Out Loud Profile:     Monique’s Authors Outside Profile: 

Monique's Featured Titles

Circle of Love

Heartdrum |

Everyone is welcome in the circle.

In this warmhearted book, we join Molly at the Intertribal Community Center, where she introduces us to people she knows and loves: her grandmother and her grandmother’s wife, her uncles and their baby, her cousins, and her treasured friends.

They dance, sing, garden, learn, pray, and eat together. And tonight, they come together for a feast! Molly shares with the reader how each person makes her feel—and reminds us that love is love.

Through tender prose and radiant artwork, author Monique Gray Smith (Cree/Lakota) and illustrator Nicole Neidhardt (Diné) show how there is always room for others in our lives. Circle of Love is a story celebrating family, friends, community, and, most of all, love.

Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Zest Books |

Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things–from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen–provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation.


Orca Book Publishers |

Message mouvant de l’autrice autochtone prim e Monique Gray Smith au sujet de tous les espoirs que les adultes nourrissent pour les enfants de leur vie.

Nous nourrissons pour nos jeunes des espoirs immenses. Nous voulons qu’ils et elles s’ panouissent et puissent profiter de toutes les exp riences que la vie leur offre, mais nous tenons aussi les prot ger. Dans des mots simples, mais vocateurs, Monique Gray Smith nous communique un message touchant sur l’importance d’aimer nos enfants, d’en prendre soin et de faire ce qu’il y a de mieux pour les soutenir. Illumin par les illustrations chaleureuses de Gabrielle Grimard, le texte de J’esp re trouvera un cho chez les parents, les grands-parents et toutes les personnes qui s’occupent des jeunes.

I Hope / Nipakosêyimon

Orca Book Publishers |

Poignant words from award-winning Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith about all the hopes adults have for the young people in their lives.

The hopes we have for the children in our lives are endless. We want our young people to thrive and experience all that life has to offer, but we also feel protective of them. Using simple but powerful statements, Monique Gray Smith delivers a touching message about loving, nurturing and wishing the best for our children. Paired with Gabrielle Grimard’s warm and enchanting illustrations, the message in I Hope will resonate with all parents, grandparents and caregivers.

Orca Book Publishers is proud to offer this picture book as a dual-language (English and Plains Cree) edition.

I Hope

Orca Book Publishers |

Poignant words from award-winning Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith about all the hopes adults have for the young people in their lives.

The hopes we have for the children in our lives are endless. We want our young people to thrive and experience all that life has to offer, but we also feel protective of them. Using simple but powerful statements, Monique Gray Smith delivers a touching message about loving, nurturing and wishing the best for our children. Paired with Gabrielle Grimard’s warm and enchanting illustrations, the message in I Hope will resonate with all parents, grandparents and caregivers.

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids

Heartdrum |
Childrens Short Stories

Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Native families from Nations across the continent gather at the Dance for Mother Earth Powwow in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In a high school gym full of color and song, people dance, sell beadwork and books, and celebrate friendship and heritage. Young protagonists will meet relatives from faraway, mysterious strangers, and sometimes one another (plus one scrappy rez dog).

They are the heroes of their own stories.

Featuring stories and poems by:
Joseph Bruchac
Art Coulson
Christine Day
Eric Gansworth
Carole Lindstrom
Dawn Quigley
Rebecca Roanhorse
David A. Robertson
Andrea L. Rogers
Kim Rogers
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Monique Gray Smith
Traci Sorell,
Tim Tingle
Erika T. Wurth
Brian Young

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books

When We Are Kind

Orca Book Publishers |

Notably centering Indigenous families and characters of color in personal and communal activities–and encouraging readers to evaluate their actions toward others.”–Publishers Weekly

When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt, this book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves.

You Hold Me Up

Orca Book Publishers |

Encourage children to show love and support for each other and to consider each other’s well-being in their everyday actions.

Consultant, international speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote You Hold Me Up to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with others. With vibrant illustrations from celebrated artist Danielle Daniel, this is a foundational book about building relationships, fostering empathy and encouraging respect between peers, starting with our littlest citizens.

Speaking Our Truth: A Journey of Reconciliation

Orca Book Publishers |

★Smith’s book is an effort that returns, offering diverse voices that invite the world into the reconciliation experience. Absolutely necessary.”–Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Canada’s relationship with its Indigenous people has suffered as a result of both the residential school system and the lack of understanding of the historical and current impact of those schools. Healing and repairing that relationship requires education, awareness and increased understanding of the legacy and the impacts still being felt by Survivors and their families. Guided by acclaimed Indigenous author Monique Gray Smith, readers will learn about the lives of Survivors and listen to allies who are putting the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into action.

Praise for Speaking Our Truth:

★Smith thoroughly and compassionately examines the history and traumatic aftereffects of Canada’s residential schools…Smith informs without overwhelming or sugarcoating, and she emphasizes the power readers themselves possess.”–Publishers Weekly, starred review

★Despite the somber topic, Smith consistently empowers readers to be agents of change and provides specific suggestions to take action.–School Library Journal, starred review

★Offers a perfect framework for readers actively exploring Indigenous history and current issues. Welcoming, honest, and down to earth, Speaking Our Truth is the tool many Canadians have been waiting for.–Quill & Quire, starred review

My Heart Fills with Happiness

Orca Book Publishers |

★ A quiet loveliness, sense of gratitude, and–yes–happiness emanate from this tender celebration of simple pleasures.–Publishers Weekly, starred review

The sun on your face. The smell of warm bannock baking in the oven. Holding the hand of someone you love. What fills your heart with happiness? This beautiful board book, with illustrations from celebrated artist Julie Flett, serves as a reminder for little ones and adults alike to reflect on and cherish the moments in life that bring us joy.

International speaker and award-winning author Monique Gray Smith wrote My Heart Fills with Happiness to support the wellness of Indigenous children and families, and to encourage young children to reflect on what makes them happy.


Sono NIS Press |

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 nonfiction tells the story of a young indigenous woman coming of age in the 1980s. In a spirit of hope, this unique story captures the irrepressible resilience of Tilly and of indigenous peoples everywhere.


Keynote Address: Weaving Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults Into your Class and Around Your Dinner Table.

Join Monique on the journey of adapting Robin Wall Kimmerer’s New York Time Bestselling book, Braiding Sweetgrass. Monique will share her process in writing the adaptation for Young Adults and young at heart, including how she chose what to include in the adaptation and how she and Nicole Neidhardt worked together to decide on the illustrations for each chapter. This session will weave the 3 teachings of Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults together: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and Teachings of the Plants. As well as areas that have more focus, like history, social and emotional learning and action steps.


Keynote Address: Leading with a Light Heart

An inspirational keynote focusing on hope, possibilities and lighting a way forward. Monique will share her personal journey and how it was a stranger who said to her, “I look forward to reading your book one day,” that changed her life. Monique will introduce her Cultural Resilience model: 4 Blankets of Resilience and how these blankets have supported her in her own resilience and sense of self-determination. Throughout our time together, Monique will offer readings from her various books, including her most recent release, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults. She will share what it means to lead with a light heart, reminding us of the importance of bringing forth the gifts we’ve been blessed with and using them in a good way. Together, we will explore the integral role love and joy have in educating hearts, minds and spirits.


Weaving Love and Joy into the Journey of Truth and Reconciliation

In this dynamic and inspiring keynote, Monique will share her personal journey of truth and reconciliation and how that journey has transformed her and her family. She will share stories and offer readings from her various books. We will delve into both the truth and reconciliation. We will briefly explore critical aspects of Canada’s history and the continued impacts on Indigenous families. Monique will share her Cultural Resilience model and strategies for weaving aspects of it into your work. Through our time together, we will explore the importance of story and the integral role love and joy have in the education of the hearts and minds of our young citizens.


Keynote Address: What's love got to do with it? Books, brains, hearts and spirits.

In this dynamic and inspiring session, Monique will share her personal journey, offer readings from her various books and provide stories of love, hope and joy. She will begin with an overview on how stress & trauma may be impacting us and those we work with; including what happens in our bodies when trauma is experienced. We will explore the integral role books have in fostering love and joy and the impact of those emotions in our ability to be resilient.


Keynote Address: The Power of One

In this keynote address Monique will share her personal journey as an author and how it was the words of a stranger, “I look forward to reading your book one day,” that changed the trajectory of her life. Monique will share stories and offer readings from her various books and will share the importance one person can make in the life of a child or young person. Monique will introduce the idea of ‘cookie people’ and encourages us to reflect on the people who have been instrumental in our lives. Through our time together, we will explore how our words and actions can be medicine for the children and youth we work with. This is an inspiring and hope centred keynote.

Watch and Listen to Monique’s Work

Monique’s Upcoming Events

Discussion Guide for Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award 2022 – Braiding Sweetgrass
PMC Indigenous Literature Award
Finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award
Victoria Book Prizes Bolen Books Children’s Book Award
National Picture Book Award
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
2014 Burt Award for First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literature
BC Book Prize Finalist, 2017

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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