Tomson Highway is a Cree from Brochet, in northern Manitoba. He is
the celebrated author of the plays The Rez Sisters
Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing
, both of which won
Dora Mavor Moore Awards and Floyd S. Chalmers Awards. He holds
three honorary degrees and is a member of the Order of
1. The mythological figure of the Fur Queen is very prominent in
the story and continues to appear in various guises throughout.
What does this figure represent for the two boys?
2. Gabriel and Jeremiah react very differently to the sexual
abuse they endure. Discuss these reactions and what they suggest
about the boys'' characters.
3. Cree is often described as a humorous, musical language, the
language of a culture that tries to find the joy in everything.
Highway mixes Cree with English throughout the text. Discuss the
ways in which the varying sounds, structures and vocabularies of
these two languages symbolize the gulf between cultures in the
4. Jeremiah and Gabriel find it difficult to adjust to city life
when they move to Winnipeg as teenagers. They are ostracized, made
to feel like outsiders in the only country they have ever known.
Discuss the similarities and differences between the experiences of
the Okimasis brothers and those of immigrants you have known coming
to Canada for the first time.
5. The Okimasis brothers are firmly connected to their roots in
Cree culture, and yet they leave their home on the reserve to join
''city life,'' rarely to return. Discuss the difficulty of being
true to one''s background, while living one''s own modern life.
6. Jeremiah is keenly aware of the stereotypes assigned to
Natives and knows that some of those prejudices reflect aspects of
Native life. Jeremiah resists becoming the type of man a hostile
society expects him to be. Can stereotypes be self-fulfilling
7. There are many different mythologies-Christian, Cree,
Greek-that weave through this story. Discuss the role these
mythologies play in the lives of the Okimasis brothers. Discuss the
impact different mythologies have on modern day literature and
8. A fundamental difference between Cree and English and the
worlds these two languages represent is that in Cree there is no
gender, no rigid male-female categories. Does Kiss of the Fur Queen
suggest what the imposition of a strict gender hierarchy would mean
for Native culture? Is it possible to read Gabriel''s fate as
symbolic of this cultural destruction? What other novelists have
used disease as a metaphor for social disintegration?