cover image This Place: 150 Years Retold

This Place: 150 Years Retold

Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm et al. HighWater, $36 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-55379-758-6

Ten tales offer an enlightening perspective of Canadian history from the point of view of First Nations people. Preceded with timelines to place them in historical context, each explores survival strategies adopted by indigenous people after the arrival of Europeans in North America. “We have survived the apocalypse,” Alicia Elliot writes in the foreword. “Annie of Red River” by Katherena Vermette and Scott B. Henderson, set in 1850, features a prominent Native woman who takes physical action against a journalist who insulted Métis women. “Red Clouds” and “Peggy,” illustrated in earthy tones by Natasha Donovan, are especially vivid in their depictions of peril —first in the form of windigo (a supernatural being in traditional First Nations folklore) and then in WWI. Both recount historical events with sensitivity to shamanistic beliefs. As the stories move further into the 20th century, and First Nations people grapple with their children being forced into foster care and their land being appropriated for industry, the art becomes grounded in a more pedestrian style, shifting from the mystical visions of earlier pieces. The final story, “Kitaskînaw 2350,”by Chelsea Vowell, imagines a future Canada and strikes a heavily didactic note, pulling down the collection. Still, the anthology’s theme and authentically told stories make it a stand-out. [em](May) [/em]