Books

Chantal Fiola on why you should read Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours)

Every day in June, an Indigenous writer will recommend a book they love by a First Nations, Métis or Inuit author from Canada.
Chantal Fiola is author of Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality. (University of Regina Press/Chantal Fiola)

June is Indigenous Book Club Month. CBC Books will publish a recommendation each day from an Indigenous writer for a book written by another Indigenous author.

Chantal Fiola recommends Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours) by Harold R. Johnson.

"While Harold Johnson wrote Firewater: How Alcohol is Killing my People (and Yours) as a conversation between himself and his relatives, the Woodland Cree, it is also relevant to other Indigenous people and EuroCanadians. Johnson, a Crown prosecutor, uses conversational narrative, Trickster stories, research and statistics to discuss the relationship between the Cree and alcohol — and how that story can be changed. He counters the stereotype of the 'drunk Indian' with research indicating that 35% of Indigenous people in Canada abstain completely from alcohol — one out of three Indigenous people does not use alcohol. This is a timely book given alcohol's colonial hold on many of our people; yet, we are changing that narrative as more and more Indigenous folks (myself included) have left alcohol behind as we find our way back to the spiritual ceremonies that colonization failed to eradicate."

Chantal Fiola is author of Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Métis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality. An assistant professor at the University of Winnipeg, Chantal is Métis, Midewiwin, and a Sundancer.

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