Dimensions: 352 Pages, 7.09 × 9.06 × 0.79 in
Published: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Canada
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0307399877
ISBN - 13: 9780307399878
From the Publisher
A powerful, raw yet eloquent memoir from a residential
school survivor and former First Nations Chief, Up Ghost
River is a necessary step toward our collective
In the 1950s, 7-year-old Edmund Metatawabin was separated from his
family and placed in one of Canada's worst residential schools. St.
Anne's, in northern Ontario, is an institution now notorious for
the range of punishments that staff and teachers inflicted on
students. Even as Metatawabin built the trappings of a successful
life-wife, kids, career-he was tormented by horrific memories.
Fuelled by alcohol, the trauma from his past caught up with him,
and his family and work lives imploded.
In seeking healing, Metatawabin travelled to southern Alberta.
There he learned from elders, participated in native cultural
training workshops that emphasize the holistic approach to
personhood at the heart of Cree culture, and finally faced his
alcoholism and PTSD. Metatawabin has since worked tirelessly to
expose the wrongdoings of St. Anne's, culminating in a recent court
case demanding that the school records be released to the Truth and
Now Metatawabin's mission is to help the next generation of
residential school survivors. His story is part of the indigenous
resurgence that is happening across Canada and worldwide: after
years of oppression, he and others are healing themselves by
rediscovering their culture and sharing their knowledge.
Coming full circle, Metatawabin's haunting and brave narrative
offers profound lessons on the importance of bearing witness, and
the ability to become whole once again.
About the Author
Edmund Metatawabin, former Chief of Fort Albany First Nation, is a
Cree writer, educator and activist. A residential school survivor,
he has devoted himself to righting the wrongs of the past, and
educating Native youth in traditional knowledge. Metatawabin now
lives in his self-made log house in Fort Albany, Ontario, off the
reserve boundary, on land he refers to as my "Grandfathers' Land."
He owns a local sawmill and also works as a consultant, speaker and
Alexandra Shimo is a former radio producer for the CBC and former
editor at Maclean's. An award-winning journalist, she is
the author of The Environment Equation, which was
published in 12 countries. She lives in Toronto.
“ Up Ghost River is at times painful. It’s at other times a wonderful lesson in the importance of laughter. It’s certainly deeply connected to the land. It is, in part, a tale of a world changing too quickly. But most of all, it is a heart song, a love song to a very special people and place, to a geography and a culture that are a foundation of who we are as a nation.” —Joseph Boyden, from his foreword to Up Ghost River “Edmund Metatawabin’s voice is clear, brave and full of the grace of his Cree homeland. Up Ghost River is a powerful and unsettling read, full of heartbreaking truth-telling, resistance and Metatawabin’s uncompromising love of land, his people, his language and his culture. These stories are full of the real lived violence of colonialism and of the beautiful tiny moments that our Elders and storytellers wrap around our children to teach them, protect them and nurture them. Metatawabin is a gift to all who are lucky enough to read him, and the key to reading Metatawabin is a willingness to simply allow these stories to transform you.” —Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, author of Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back and Islands of Decolonial Love , and recipient of the RBC Taylor Emerging Writer Award “A shocking, sadly revealing Canadian story. Cree elder Edmund Metatawabin has the courage to tell how ‘white learning’ stripped him of his name and