SUBSCRIBE

Get new posts by email:

How to Use this Blog

BOOZHOO! We've amassed tons of information and important history on this blog since 2010. If you have a keyword, use the search box below. Also check out the reference section above. If you have a question or need help searching, use the contact form at the bottom of the blog.



We want you to use BOOKSHOP! (the editor will earn a small amount of money or commission. (we thank you) (that is our disclaimer statement)

This is a blog. It is not a peer-reviewed journal, not a sponsored publication... WE DO NOT HAVE ADS or earn MONEY from this website. The ideas, news and thoughts posted are sourced… or written by the editor or contributors.

EMAIL ME: tracelara@pm.me (outlook email is gone)

SEARCH

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Author’s seminal novel remains relevant even after 40 years


“We knew people don't like us, but we don't know why it could be. You know, because we're brownish and because we're foster kids.” — Beatrice Mosionier, author of In Search of April Raintree
 
By Shari Narine
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Windspeaker.com

 

Little did Beatrice Mosionier expect that her first novel, In Search of April Raintree, would have such a profound impact on Indigenous readership.

But perhaps she should have.

When she was seven or eight years old, she was working in the basement of her second foster home in St. Norbert, a suburb of Winnipeg.

“I got this really powerful knowledge, and it was that I would have these three animals that would guide me: The wolf, the bear and the cougar,” said Mosionier, a Plains Métis woman.

“Later when I finally started talking about it with other people, I was told about guide animals, spirit animals, that give you strength… And it was like I was going to do something special in my life.”

She forgot about the spirit animals until she hit her thirties. In 1980, when Mosionier was 31, her oldest sister Katherine committed suicide. Sixteen years before, her other sister Vivian had taken her own life.

“It was just like things were shifting inside of me. I think that's probably how I came to decide I was going to write a book, and I think that was what led up to this,” said Mosionier.

But when she wrote In Search of April Raintree in 1983, Mosionier never believed it would be published.

Forty years later, Highwater Press is releasing a special 40th anniversary edition of the novel.

Mosionier and her siblings were apprehended in the earliest years of the Sixties Scoop, which saw an estimated 20,000 or more Indigenous children removed from their homes between 1951 and 1984.

Mosionier was taken at the age of three by the Children’s Aid Society of Winnipeg. The loss that resulted from that action was the story she told in the lives of April Raintree and the fictional younger sister Cheryl.

It was a story that resonated mightily with Métis and First Nations readers, as noted in words of praise that accompany the anniversary edition.

In Search of April Raintree was the first book I read that spoke to the Indigenous experience, and it changed me for the better,” wrote Governor General Award winner David A. Robertson.

“I could feel it in my blood memory. Because it was tender and brutal, authentic and unapologetic, heartbreaking and hopeful,” wrote Rosanna Deerchild, host of CBC Radio One’s Unreserved.

“Reading Beatrice Mosionier’s seminal novel was lifechanging. As a young Indigenous woman, it was the first time I felt seen,” wrote Manitoba NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine.

Those words make Mosionier feel “really humbled.”

She wrote the book “to find answers,” spurred on by the deaths of her sisters.

“I think that’s really hard on a parent…When you lose a child to suicide and then you lose a second child to suicide, there's something majorly wrong,” said Mosionier.

In writing the novel, Mosionier gained personal insight into her own family and into the larger picture of being Métis.

“I was raised in white foster homes since I was three years old. I wasn't connected to—back then we used to call it the Native—Native people,” she said.

“I did get more understandings about the why and everything. Because when I grew up, we didn't know words like ‘oppression’ and ‘racism’ and all the things like that when we're in school…We knew people don't like us, but we don't know why it could be. You know, because we're brownish and because we're foster kids.”

Along with telling the personal stories of April and Cheryl, heartbreaking and uplifting, in turn, Mosionier used Cheryl’s essay writing talent in the book to tell the wider proud Métis history.

Mosionier had to research for Cheryl’s essays. She started watching a Winnipeg television series that had interviews with Indigenous people. Her next-door neighbour, who wasn’t Indigenous, gave her a book by Heather Robertson titled Reservations are for Indians.

“I read that book and then I had a fairly good sense, because back then we didn't have computers and Google and all of that,” she said.

After her book was published, she discovered that St. Norbert had a rich Métis history. She also learned that her father used to play the fiddle.

“I didn't know anything about that. I didn't know. I just didn't know anything positive,” said Mosionier.

While there are brutal scenes in the novel, perhaps the most haunting scene comes in April’s realization near the end, which echoes the words of her broken father: “Baby Anna. Such a small part of our lives. Yet she had changed our lives the most.”

It is when Baby Anna is sick and goes to the hospital that April and Cheryl are wrongfully apprehended, and that single action sets in motion everything that follows.

Forty years later, Indigenous children are still being apprehended at a disproportionate rate.

In Search of April Raintree is one of the all-time great works of Indigenous literature, and it is still as vital and relevant today as it was forty years ago,” wrote Dr. Warren Cariou, a professor at the University of Manitoba.

Mosionier agrees with Cariou’s observation about the relevance of her novel.

But, “I kind of feel sometimes that (the novel) didn't do its job because a lot has changed but a lot has not changed, and sometimes you think it's getting worse,” she said.

If her novel opened the gates for other Indigenous authors, Mosionier says, “I feel good about that.”

And she encourages Indigenous authors to keep doing their strong work, many of whom are now being recognized with awards.

As for her spirit animals who told her she would do something special in her life, Mosionier firmly believes writing In Search of April Raintree was that act.

The special 40th anniversary edition of the novel will be released by Highwater Press in September.

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada. SOURCE

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please: Share your reaction, your thoughts, and your opinions. Be passionate, be unapologetic. Offensive remarks will not be published. We are getting more and more spam. Comments will be monitored.
Use the comment form at the bottom of this website which is private and sent direct to Trace.


Happy Visitors!

They Took Us Away

They Took Us Away
click image to see more and read more

Blog Archive

Most READ Posts

Bookshop

You are not alone

You are not alone

To Veronica Brown

Veronica, we adult adoptees are thinking of you today and every day. We will be here when you need us. Your journey in the adopted life has begun, nothing can revoke that now, the damage cannot be undone. Be courageous, you have what no adoptee before you has had; a strong group of adult adoptees who know your story, who are behind you and will always be so.

Diane Tells His Name


click photo

60s Scoop Survivors Legal Support

GO HERE: https://www.gluckstein.com/sixties-scoop-survivors

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines

Lost Birds on Al Jazeera Fault Lines
click to read and listen about Trace, Diane, Julie and Suzie

ADOPTION TRUTH

As the single largest unregulated industry in the United States, adoption is viewed as a benevolent action that results in the formation of “forever families.”
The truth is that it is a very lucrative business with a known sales pitch. With profits last estimated at over $1.44 billion dollars a year, mothers who consider adoption for their babies need to be very aware that all of this promotion clouds the facts and only though independent research can they get an accurate account of what life might be like for both them and their child after signing the adoption paperwork.

NEW MEMOIR

Original Birth Certificate Map in the USA

Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

Google Followers