Northern Light: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water

Kazim Ali. Milkweed, $24 (200p) ISBN 978-1-57131-382-9
Poet Ali (The Voice of Sheila Chandra) chronicles his return to the small Canadian town he lived in during early childhood in this layered memoir. On an especially cold winter night, Ali writes, he began reflecting on memories of his early childhood in Manitoba, Canada, and wondered what became of Jenpeg, the town where his family lived. Upon his return to Jenpeg—built to house people constructing a dam on the Nelson River—he found that the town no longer exists and the native community, the Pimicikamak, were suffering the economic and environmental impacts of the dam (“The water rises and falls because of the dam, the shore is chewed away”). Ali began to study the ways the dam changed the landscape, such as shore erosion and changing silt levels, as a way to empathize with the challenges faced by the Pimicikamak and to understand the legacy of the dam his family helped build. Along the way, he bonded with the community’s chief, Merrick, and locals Lee Roy and Mervin, who taught him about Pimicikamak Cree culture, including the nation’s sweat lodges and ceremonies. Ali’s prose shines when recalling his interactions with members of the Pimicikamak community and friends. Those concerned with environmental justice or the plight of Indigenous peoples will want to give this a look. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 11/18/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-57131-712-4
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-1-57131-175-7
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