On an early July morning in 2013, I slipped under the gate into the Batoche Historic Site. There were lots of mosquitoes, no guides or custodians, no tourists. I was alone with my great great grandparents’ house, on land I considered Ground Zero for the Métis. This was Batoche, the place where our Nation was broken by the Canadian government in 1885.
In 2013, my historical novel Song of Batoche was in research phase, still forming in my mind. I was inspired by a passage in Wallace Stegner’s 1962 autobiography, Wolf Willow: “The North-West Resistance is the stuff of an epic and should be written by a Métis who can see the last years of the Plains frontier with the distance of history and with the passion of personal loss and defeat.”
Yet I looked out over this view of the Saskatchewan river, feeling conflicted. What were my claims? Dare I write about Louis Riel and the North-West Resistance when I hadn’t grown up knowing I was Métis?
Three generations of my Métis ancestors were haunted by the loss of that land. Walking it fired a song in my blood.
I’ll post a live Facebook feed of my speech and reading on September 30th to officially launch Song of Batoche.
I hope the spirits of my “rebel” Métis ancestors will be there, too.Share: