Sunday October 09, 2016

Indigenous Reads book club: Beatrice Mosionier's April Raintree

Beatrice Mosionier's book, April Raintree, is the second book in Unreserved's Indigenous Reads book club.

Beatrice Mosionier's book, April Raintree, is the second book in Unreserved's Indigenous Reads book club. (Madison Thomas/CBC)

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Beatrice Mosionier's, April Raintree, is the second title in the Indigenous Reads book club.

The next book in our virtual book club isn't new, but it is back in bookstores with a new edition. First published in 1983, it has been loved and read by generations of Canadians.

April Raintree is based on Métis author Beatrice Mosionier's life. She survived foster care, abuse and the loss of her two sisters to suicide.

In the book, two young sisters are taken from their home and family. They are separated, and put into different foster homes. Yet over the years, the bond between them grows. As they each make their way in a society that is, at times, indifferent, hostile, and violent, one embraces her Métis identity, while the other tries to leave it behind. 

Mosionier said she didn't expect the book to be published, much less reach an audience outside of other Métis women. So when it was added to the high school curriculum in Manitoba, suddenly her words and her story were being read by teenagers from a wide range of backgrounds. 

In Search of April Raintree

The 25th anniversary edition is out now. (Portage and Main Press)

The original text included graphic language and violence but when the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers negotiated to have Manitoba books go into public and school libraries, Mosionier was asked to make a few changes. 

"When In Search of April Raintree got into the school libraries there were objections," she said. "And that's when I was asked to revise it. By that time, although I had written the book for adult, Métis women, I'd been clued in that this was a book that would be important to high school students."

Mosionier said she didn't change a lot, just toned down some language and softened the violence of a rape scene. 

April Raintree is often cited by Indigenous authors, when asked to choose a book that inspired them to write. Mosionier said she feels humbled to hear how important this book has been. "[I feel] very sad because then I know that these people have been through so much pain."