It’s alarming to me how little Canadians know about our history; not the Eurocentric history we’ve been taught since we were young, but the history of our First Peoples. History that has been hidden, history that our government tried to erase along with their rich culture and identity.
Why does this matter to me? Well, as a person of colour and someone not immune to systemic racism myself, I have always been an advocate for justice. What can I do to stop the cycle of destruction that harkens back to the first Europeans that landed on Canadian shores eager to reap the benefits of our resources and settle in a new land?
Honestly, that’s a question that has multiple answers. As a teacher, I have the opportunity to continually educate myself and others about the nameless, voiceless people who have been mistreated for centuries.
And that’s where my blog comes in.
I’m an avid reader, unabashedly so, and having read thousands of books, I feel it’s now time to share some of what I’ve read in hopes of encouraging others to learn from the thoughts and experiences of their fellow human beings.
Enter Jesse Thistle and his memoir From the Ashes.
Jesse’s journey begins with his Kokum Nancy and Mushoom Jeremie Morissette, his Metis grandparents, who live on road allowance land in Erin Ferry, Saskatchewan. They immerse him in a world rich in Metis culture, full of bannock, stories, and a deep connection to nature.
Growing up as the youngest of 3 boys, Jesse quickly becomes familiar with feelings of abandonment, hunger, and disappointment. His father, an Algonquin-Scot, battles alcoholism and drug addiction and ends up taking him and his brothers to live with him after his mother leaves.
Living in extreme poverty, going days with very little to eat, and a father who was rarely at home as he found ways to feed his addiction, the three Thistle boys are forced to fend for themselves, learning to steal food to survive.
Thus begins a journey of homelessness, hopelessness, addiction and eventually re-discovery.
Jesse’s heartwrenching experiences that stem from his father’s addiction, his belief in his mother’s abandonement, and a denial of his heritage and ultimately, who he is, leads him down a path of self-destruction and isolation. As Jesse moves further and further away from his family, who continue to support him despite his actions, he loses sight of who he is and who he has the potential to become.
Road Allowance Land Similar to Where He Spent Time With His Kokum Nancy and Mushoom Jeremie
From the Ashes is a must-read! It reflects the deeply-rooted effects of institutionalized racism and what happens to our First Nation, Metis, and Inuit Peoples who try to navigate through a world that historically tried to eradicate their existence.
Jesse’s journey will speak to you, draw you in and inspire you to rise up against the odds and find yourself!
Always remember who you are, where you come from, and how important your story is…
And you, like Jesse, will always rise from the ashes.