Black Water

A book by David A. Robertson.

David A. Robertson

The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family's Indigenous roots. His father, Don, spent his early childhood on a  trapline in the bush northeast of Norway House, Manitoba, where his first teach was the land. When his family was moved permanently to a nearby reserve, Don was not permitted to speak Cree at school unless in secret with his friends and lost the knowledge he had been gifted while living on his trapline. His mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town with not a single Indigenous family in it. Then Don arrived, the new United Church minister, and they fell in love. 

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA. (From HarperCollins)

David A. Robertson is an author and graphic novelist based in Winnipeg. The multi-talented writer of Swampy Cree heritage has published 25 books across a variety of genres, including the graphic novels Will I See? and Sugar Falls, a Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book called When We Were Aloneillustrated by Julie Flett, and the YA book Strangers. He hosts the CBC Edmonton podcast Kiwew. His picture book On the Trapline won the 2021 Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books.

Why David A. Robertson wrote Black Water

"He missed the trapline. He missed that connection. He missed the land. He missed his childhood in that way. I also think that he missed the water. He missed that more than anything. 

"We used to go to Clear Lake, as adults and as kids. He loved Clear Lake so much because he sat by the water all the time. He loved the water. He loved the peace of it. He loved how it spoke to him.

He wanted to show me where he lived and to foster that connection in me.- David A Robertson

"As he got older, he started to think about his life and reclaiming knowledge that he had lost. That also had a part in why he wanted to go back as well. 

"I also think he wanted to bring me there. He wanted to show me where he lived and to foster that connection in me.

"It was a completely selfless act for him, but also an act of reclamation."

Read more in his interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with David A. Robertson

To say Cree author David A. Robertson is prolific is a bit of an understatement. He started his writing career in 2009, and has already published more than 20 titles. This fall he has three books being released. This week on Unreserved, an extended conversation with the author.
Award-winning Cree author David A. Roberson journeys to his family's ancestral trapline with his father in his emotional memoir Black Water.
David A. Robertson has released over 25 books since his first publication six years ago. If the graphic novel, memoir, podcast and fantasy series he's released this fall has anything to say about whether or not he is slowing down… well, he's not. David talks to Tom Power about his first memoir, 'Black Water,' where he ventures into the most personal storytelling of his career

David Alexander Robertson talks about his winning book, When We Were Alone

5 years ago
Duration 4:19
A Winnipegger's picture book about the residential school legacy has won the Governor General's Award, David Alexander Robertson found out a few weeks ago that his children's book, When We Were Alone, had won the $25,000 prize. He spoke with the CBC's Caroline Barghout earlier today.

David A. Robertson browses for comics at Maxx Collectibles in Winnipeg, Man.

4 years ago
Duration 4:48
David A. Robertson is the author of numerous graphic novels, including Will I See?, Betty and Sugar Falls. CBC Books caught up with Robertson at his local comic book store to learn about the comic books he loved reading as a kid.
The author of When We Were Alone meets with young readers to talk about Canada's residential school history.

Other books by David A. Robertson

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?