On a wide open plain, two exhausted figures, hands cl...
Publishers Weekly Review: Up Ghost River: A Chief's Journey Through the Turbulent Waters of Native History
August 8, 2014
Taken from his family by draconian Canadian laws intended to "kill the Indian in the child," young Edmund Metatawabin is brought to St. Anne's residential school in northern Ontario in 1955. In a school system infamous for its essential inhumanity, St. Anne's stands out as one of the worst offenders; children there were routinely humiliated, beaten, forced to eat vomit, electrocuted in a homemade electric chair, and sexually abused. Nor did St. Anne's legacy end when its students escaped into the adult world; as Metatawabin's account shows, survivors were plagued with alcoholism, self-loathing and all the other burdens of the abused, with their road to recovery long and difficult. Only in recent years have victims won official acknowledgment and recompensation, often half-hearted and grudging. The horror of Metatawabin's account seem almost unbelievable, but it is all too factual, backed up with official documents. Nor can Canadians dismiss this as a tragedy from a now bygone era; Metatawabin argues that recent legislation from the Stephen Harper government as a continuation of oppression. This work is a harrowing but enthralling account of an aspect of Canadian history that the country would prefer to forget but which continues to haunt. (Sept.) Agent: The Cooke Agency