Books·Canadian

Moon of the Crusted Snow

Moon of the Crusted Snow is a novel by Waubgeshig Rice.

Waubgeshig Rice

With winter looming, a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Cut off, people become passive and confused. Panic builds as the food supply dwindles. While the band council and a pocket of community members struggle to maintain order, an unexpected visitor arrives, escaping the crumbling society to the south. Soon after, others follow.

The community leadership loses its grip on power as the visitors manipulate the tired and hungry to take control of the reserve. Tensions rise and, as the months pass, so does the death toll due to sickness and despair. Frustrated by the building chaos, a group of young friends and their families turn to the land and Anishinaabe tradition in hopes of helping their community thrive again. Guided through the chaos by an unlikely leader named Evan Whitesky, they endeavor to restore order while grappling with a grave decision.

Blending action and allegory, Moon of the Crusted Snow upends our expectations. Out of catastrophe comes resilience. And as one society collapses, another is reborn. (From ECW Press)

Waubgeshig Rice is an Anishinaabe author, journalist and radio host originally from Wasauksing First Nation. He is also the author of Legacy and Midnight Sweatlodge. He used to be the host of CBC Radio's Up North.

Why Waubgeshig Rice wrote Moon of the Crusted Snow

"It's set in an Anishinaabe community that's dealing with the impact of being displaced and the effects of colonialism. It's a dystopia that's already here. I could draw the personal experience of growing up in a community like this. But there's still some knowledge of being able to live on the land and use the resources of the natural world to survive.

It's a dystopia that's already here. I could draw the personal experience of growing up in a community like this.- Waubgeshig Rice

"In my work as a journalist I deal with a lot of context, especially when you're reporting on Indigenous issues and communities. There are a lot of things you have to explain to people about why things are the way they are today.

"By nature, some of that came out in the actual writing of this book. A lot of non-Indigenous people might not be aware of what's happening with Indigenous communities, but a lot of Indigenous people are still learning about how things have come to pass, even given their own personal experiences. These are things that we're still teaching ourselves and learning about in order to understand our place in Canada."

Read more in Waubgeshig Rice's interview with CBC Books.

From the book

Aileeen turned to the crowd and spoke. "Boozhoo, Zhaawshgogiiizhgokwe n'dizhnakaaz," she said. "Wawashkesh n'dodem." After introducing herself in Anishinaabemowin, she addressed the crowd in English. "Good afternoon, my relatives." Her quiet, authoritative voice echoed through the large room. "Thank you all for coming here today." As an elder, she had the full attention of everyone in the room. Any eyes that might have rolled during the smudge were nonetheless now fixed on her. She was everyone's auntie, even if they weren't related by blood.

"Winter is here," she continued. "Maybe it came a little earlier than we all expected. It's the time when the trees go to sleep. The bears go to sleep. We all rest. And then we will be reborn in the spring. But it's important to make sure we're ready. Now is the time to help your relatives prepare their winter homes. Make sure they have enough food. Enough wood. Enough medicine to make it through the dark season."


From Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice ©2018. Published by ECW Press.

Interviews with Waubgeshig Rice

Whether it's in the classroom or a work of fiction it's important to get the history right. For author Waubgeshig Rice, balancing historical accuracy with a dystopian vision of the future in his new novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow, was essential. 8:19
Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction — but Waubgeshig Rice was not prepared for a fictitious plot point he wrote to become reality. When news broke that a Quebec couple travelled thousands of kilometres to the fly-in community of Old Crow, Yukon in an apparent attempt to avoid COVID-19, many people on Twitter linked it to a major twist in Rice’s post-apocalyptic novel, Moon of the Crusted Snow. 12:28
Waubgeshig Rice talks to Shelagh Rogers about his new book Moon of the Crusted Snow. 12:51

Other books by Waubgeshig Rice

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