Two quite different views of native peoples — one a novel set in the period before European settlement, the other a description and history of one of the infamous residential schools — are presented here.
The novel will provide interest and pleasure; the non-fiction book will certainly interest and frequently shock its readers.
Even if one has some acquaintance with this unpleasant subject, one will learn more details from “Indian School Road”, subtitled “Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School”. Published by Nimbus at $24.95, Chris Benjamin, has written both factual and fictional works and has won several awards.
Frank Christopher Busch is a Cree who works with the Westbank First Nation in British Columbia. “Grey Eyes”, his first novel (Roseway, Fernwood, no price given) is dedicated to “all…victims of colonial assimilation policy; May you find in these pages / that which was wrongfully taken from you.”
“Grey Eyes” tells the story of Little Grey Bear Boy from his birth to about the age of 15, not long before he’s initiated into manhood. Among his people, having grey eyes is a sign of magic powers, and very few are born with this trait.
The book’s end depicts the tribe recovering from a savage attack by the Red Eyes. Their recovery is positive, “a new beginning.” As Little Grey Bear Boy says “…life is not about what happens to us, it is about how we handle things that happen.” Try this book; you’ll learn a lot — and not just about native culture.
— Elizabeth Cran, PEI Guardian