A powerful, raw and eloquent memoir about the abuse former First Nations chief Edmund Metatawabin endured in residential school in the 1960s, the resulting trauma, and the spirit he rediscovered within himself and his community through traditional spirituality and knowledge.
After being separated from his family at age 7, Metatawabin was assigned a number and stripped of his Native identity. At his residential school--one of the worst in Canada--he was physically and emotionally abused, and was sexually abused by one of the staff. Leaving high school, he turned to alcohol to forget the trauma. He later left behind his wife and family, and fled to Edmonton, where he joined a Native support group that helped him come to terms with his addiction and face his PTSD. By listening to elders' wisdom, he learned how to live an authentic Native life within a modern context, thereby restoring what had been taken from him years earlier. Metatawabin has worked tirelessly to bring traditional knowledge to the next generation of Native youth and leaders, as a counsellor at the University of Alberta, Chief in his Fort Albany community, and today as a youth worker, Native spiritual leader and activist. His work championing indigenous knowledge, sovereignty and rights spans several decades and has won him awards and national recognition. His story gives a personal face to the problems that beset Native communities and fresh solutions, and untangles the complex dynamics that sparked the Idle No More movement. Haunting and brave, Up Ghost River is a necessary step toward our collective healing.
About the Authors
Edmund Metatawabin, former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a Cree writer, educator and activist. A residential school survivor, he has devoted himself to righting the wrongs of the past, and educating Native youth in traditional knowledge. Metatawabin now lives in his self-made log house in Fort Albany, Ontario, off the reserve boundary, on land he refers to as my “Grandfathers’ Land.” He owns a local sawmill and also works as a consultant, speaker and researcher.
Alexandra Shimo is a former radio producer for the CBC and former editor at Maclean’s. An award-winning journalist, she is the author of The Environment Equation, which was published in 12 countries. She lives in Toronto.
What People Are Saying
Finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Non-Fiction
"Up Ghost River is a heart song, a love song to a very special people and place, to a geography and a culture that are a foundation of who we are as a nation." Joseph Boyden, from his foreword
"Searing new memoir." Toronto Star
"This aptly titled, well-crafted book is an especially poignant reminder of the harm [residential schools] caused.... A memoir containing a polemic wrapped in native history." Winnipeg Free Press