The Next Chapter

Carol Rose GoldenEagle wanted to speak up for missing Indigenous women by writing a tale of vengeance

The Cree and Dene writer spoke with Shelagh Rogers about her novel Bone Black.
Bone Black is a novel by Carol Rose GoldenEagle. (Nightwood Editions)

Carol Rose GoldenEagle is a Cree and Dene journalist and author who became Canada's first Indigenous woman to anchor a national newscast when she was 25 years old. It was a situation that helped her recognize and assess how Indigenous women are depicted in media. 

GoldenEagle's books include the novel Bearskin Diary and the poetry collection Hiraeth. Her work has earned several awards, including the 2009 National Aboriginal Achievement Award and the 2017-2018 Aboriginal Literature Award.

Her new novel Bone Black is the story of twin sisters Wren and Raven. When Raven disappears one night, Wren immediately reports it to the local police. Feeling dismissed and worrying the case won't be investigated properly, Wren decides to find justice on her own.

GoldenEagle spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Bone Black

Something positive

"I worked as a journalist for a very long time. The stories we covered, with respect to Indigenous women, were always negative. The women were always victims. They were always downtrodden. They were always without hope. That's the way they were portrayed in the media. 

I wanted to create these characters who are a reflection of what is real in our communities as Indigenous women.- Carol Rose GoldenEagle

"I just got very tired of seeing that in the media. I know so many beautiful strong Indigenous women who are building community in so many different ways. I'm allowed to write fiction now because I'm no longer working in a newsroom. I wanted to create these characters who are a reflection of what is real in our communities as Indigenous women. I had to make them strong. I had to make them doing something positive. I had to make my characters result in making change."

A reason to act

"People look at missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and think it's something that is recent. But it is something that has been going on for decades.

I wanted to portray the protagonist Wren as a woman who doesn't just sit back and take the abuse of the system.- Carol GoldenEagle

"We're hearing more about it now because Indigenous women are saying, 'Enough is enough!' We need to start talking about this. We need to start finding some type of resolution.

"I wanted to portray the protagonist Wren as a woman who doesn't just sit back and take the abuse of the system. She decides to act when her sister Raven goes missing."

A complex code

"When I was writing this, I thought about bringing in a character who is with law enforcement, such as the RCMP. I thought about that a lot and at some point I said no. Close to the beginning of the novel, Wren is simply dismissed by the police when her sister disappeared.

Wren's kind, she's gentle, she's generous — but she's also a serial killer.- Carol GoldenEagle

"Nobody cared about it, so she decided to take justice into her own hands — because they probably won't care about that either. If she does it quietly and strategically, she feels she can 'eliminate filth from the world' —  and that's one of the phrases used in the book. 

"Wren is a complex character because she's highly principled. She's highly moral: she follows the teachings of her grandmother and embraces the traditions of Indigenous culture.

"Wren's kind, she's gentle, she's generous — but she's also a serial killer. The only people that have to worry are those men who harm Indigenous women. She figures out how to exact her own way of making things come into balance."

Carol Rose GoldenEagle's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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