Friends, the start of a new year usually marks a time when you can make it a point to change something in your life.
Mine actually began some years ago, when a number of things took place to allow for this. I had wanted to write a book of some kind but didn’t quite yet know what that would be. Upon contacting Bruce Valpy, a long-time editor and friend here at News/North, he gave me a few pointers to keep in mind.
But things didn’t actually fall into place until I awoke one startling morning to hear of the brutal murder of a close relative, the daughter of a niece, in Radelie Koe, Fort Good Hope. Just about then another friend, Lynn Feasey, told me about an artist retreat she had started on the east coast.
Wanting to at least be there I simply packed up and left, arriving at the place near Halifax.
To this day I am not sure what happened, but all of my bitter and to then repressed experiences at the first of three residential schools started coming out and onto the long-awaited page.
It took a number of years and a lot of soul searching, but what resulted is From Bear Rock Mountain, The Life and Times of a Dene Residential School Survivor, which will be published in May.
It is easy for the ordinary Canadian citizen, for instance, to think of something as traumatic as residential schools as a one-of-a-kind event and thus easily swept under the rug.
My take on it is to relate this government attempt at outright cultural genocide to other similar attempts, like that of Shoah, the Jewish Holocaust.
In both cases the idea was to erase all traces of an unwanted presence in our world. After such an evil thing happens there is a tendency for ordinary people to treat it as a hoax or to attempt other ways of putting it out of their minds.
As a PhD student now about to do my research towards a doctorate, my book will also give our schools, students and elders a way to deal with painful and confusing issues like intergenerational residential school trauma.
It has taken a good five years to get to this point. You can pre-order your own copy of From Bear Rock Mountain from Amazon.com. As for myself, I am looking forward to the book launch which will take place at the annual NorthWrite Literary Festival, in Yellowknife.
Mahsi, thank you.