The Shoe Boy
This memoir of five months in a hunting cabin with a James Bay Cree family is a new classic of First Nations literature, written by the CBC's Duncan McCue. McCue is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. In The Shoe Boy he renders a beautiful sketch of the landscape and culture of the Cree, a nation still recovering from the massive James Bay hydroelectric project of the 1970s.
Frank, funny and evocative, The Shoe Boy deftly entwines the challenges of identity for First Nations youth, the sexual frustration and hopeful confusion of the teenage years, and the realities of living in an enduring state of culture shock. (From Nonvella Publishing)
As an adult, a journalist, I have interviewed mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles who weep and tremble and ask, over and over — Why?
Suicides account for a third of deaths of Indigenous youth in Canada. Alarmingly, Indigenous youth are six times more likely to die of suicide than non-Indigenous youth.
Six times more likely to die of suicide.
I feel the need to repeat it, because we're numb to these statistics — so often recited by media when referring to the grim conditions so many Indigenous communities endure. I myself have quoted these statistics, standing in front of a camera to tell the country about yet another community pleading for help because young people are killing themselves.
Which is why I am distressed by this sudden recollection, this thing buried deep in my brain that I've never told anyone: I was once suicidal.
Could I have been one of those young people?
From The Shoe Boy by Duncan McCue ©2016. Published by Nonvella.