Daughters of the Deer by Danielle Daniel
Reviewed by Michele Altermann
Marie is an Algonkin woman and healer of the Deer Clan who has lost her husband and daughters to Iroquois raids. Her parents were pushed further and further north from the Ottawa River area because of raiding by the Iroquois and their English allies, and this is where they ended up. Now her small village, on a site near Trois-Rivières, is the location of a small but growing French settlement and church. Most of the warriors and hunters of the village have been lost to raids and the Sachem is worried about the survival of the remaining 100 or so people. To ensure their survival he convinces Marie to marry a French settler. The People need the protection of the French soldiers against the ongoing Iroquois raids. Marie dutifully takes off her deerskin tunic and dons a blue cloth dress to marry Pierre.
Danielle Daniel is a descendant of Marie, her twelfth generation grandmother. It is a fictional story based on family history and explores the challenges faced by an Indigenous woman and her half settler children in Quebec of the mid to late 1600s. It tells the story of children who try to fit into two different worlds and the prejudices that existed even after conversion to Catholicism and living in a mostly European fashion. When it turns out their daughter, Jeanne, is Two-Spirited it creates more problems for Jeanne, her family and the community. We see highlighted the long history of violence against Indigenous women and the struggles to maintain an identity that the growing newcomer society sees as primitive and disdainful. Written with care and respect, this wonderfully engaging and powerful story (I couldn’t put it down and finished it in two days!) pulls on your emotions even when you can anticipate where the story inevitably goes.
Go Show The World by Wab Kinew
Reviewed by Bev McNabb
I cannot recommend this book enough! Wab Kinew, musician, journalist, honorary witness for the TRC, now Manitoba NDP leader, wrote the words to this book as a rap song!
Go Show the World is geared to young people, but I found it quite enjoyable and very informative. Each page highlights a hero in a simple way, and there are short bios of each person at the back of the book. It’s a good introduction, and one can google for more depth afterwards.
Beautiful Illustrations fill the entire page and really help to contextualize each hero.
I was delighted that Wab featured Francis Pegahmagabow, a WW1 sniper who returned to his homelands ( Shawanaga FN and Wasauksing FN ) became Chief, and fought for the civil rights of his people, after serving our country so well. Parry Sound, between Shawanaga and Wasauksing, was my home for many years, and Francis is our local hero.
This book is a love letter to young people, uplifting and encouraging. Each section repeats these words: “We are people who matter. Yes, it’s true. Now go show the world what a person who matters can do.”
Starlight by Richard Wagamese
Reviewed by Bev McNabb
This final novel of Richard Wagamese is a rapturous and profoundly moving story of love, compassion, mercy and the consolations to be found in the natural world.
The story begins in the Nechako Valley, British Columbia in 1976. Frank Starlight has long settled into a quiet life working his remote fram, occasionally venturing into the unbroken country around his property to photograph the wild animals who thrive there. His contemplative existence comes to an abrupt end with the arrival of Emmy, a woman on the run who has committed a desperate act so she and her child can escape a life of abuse. Franke takes in Emmy and her daughter to help them get back on their feet, and gradually, this accidental family grows into a real one. But Emmy’s violent ex-boyfriend isn’t content to just let her go. He wants revenge and is determined to hunt her down.
Starlight was unfinished at the time of Richard’s death in March 2017, yet every page radiates with his masterful storytelling, intense humanism, and insights that are as hard-earned as they are beautiful. with astonishing scenes set in the rugged backcountry of the B.C. Interior, and characters whose scars cut deep even as their journey toward healing and forgiveness lifts us, Starlight is a magnificent last gift to readers from a writer who believed in the power of stories to save us.
Embers by Richard Wagamese
Reviewed by Rev Elaine Boone
This may be the perfect bedside table book if you want to begin or end your day in reflection, contemplation or inspiration. It is not a cover to cover read, but instead a dip into and out of a collection of short paragraphs on a wide range of teachings. Highly recommended!