The Next Chapter

Carol Rose GoldenEagle's Essential Ingredients is a poetry collection that explores the power of parenting

The Cree and Dene author spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing her latest book.
Essential Ingredients is a poetry collection by Carol Rose GoldenEagle. (Inanna Publications)

This interview originally aired on April 9, 2022.

Carol Rose GoldenEagle is a Cree and Dene author and journalist from Saskatchewan. Her book Bearskin Diary was chosen as a national Aboriginal Literature Title for 2017. 

In 2021, GoldenEagle was named the ninth poet laureate of Saskatchewan for her "long history of interacting with students, from K to 12, who are eager to learn more about reconciliation, how to honour our past ... and how to move forward."

GoldenEagle broke ground as the first Indigenous woman to anchor a national newscast in 1989. She began her reporting career when she was a teenager, and she says it was journalism that led her to discovering and recovering her heritage, a connection that was broken when she was taken from her Cree mother at birth and adopted by a white family.

In Essential Ingredients, GoldenEagle expands on the notion of moving forward as the poetry book reflects on life, struggle and spirituality. The poems are personal — Essential Ingredients highlights the joys of childhood, parenting and family.

GoldenEagle is also the author of the books Hiraeth and Bone Black. She spoke with Shelagh Rogers about writing Essential Ingredients.

The power of parenting

"When you're a mother or a father, daily life can be so busy. When the kids are little, you don't realize that the day will come pretty quickly when they graduate from high school and they find their own way. They move out — and all of a sudden you're sitting in an empty house and it's just quiet and it's very strange.

I decided to write down as many memories as I could, in the form of poetry.

"But, when we do get together, especially during spring, summer and early fall, as often as we can, we get out by the firepit and stories always come up. Mom, do you remember when we did this? Do you remember when we did that? And they bring up all these beautiful moments in time that I almost forgot about. They were just at the back of my mind. 

"I had to write them down. If we don't talk about those moments — and give them the respect and honour that they deserve —  we'll forget about them. I decided to write down as many memories as I could, in the form of poetry."

Important teachers

"As parents of children, we are their first teachers — and we are their most important teachers. I wanted to make sure that their childhood was beautiful, filled with wonderful memories.

"I was one of those [Indigenous] children scooped up in the 1960s, and I think I missed out on quite a bit as a result of that time in my life. So when I became a parent, I said to myself, I am going to do everything the exact opposite of what I was taught. 

As parents of children, we are their first teachers — and we are their most important teachers.

"So in the springtime, when there are potholes everywhere, I will let you go out and splash and get dirty and muddy. I don't care — because we can do laundry afterwards. That's one small example: I let them play and rejoice and laugh and learn that way."

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

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