After the Halfbreed people's losing struggle with the Canadian Government to keep their land in the 1860s, many Halfbreed families homesteaded in northern Saskatchewan. Maria Campbell's family, a mixture of "Scottish, French, Cree, English, Irish" who "spoke a language completely different" from the people around them, was "a combination of everything: hunters, trappers and ak-ee-top [pretend] farmers." Born in 1940 in a home where ancient Cree rituals were practiced alongside Catholic ceremony, Maria writes this story "for all of you, to tell you what it is like to be a Halfbreed woman in our country. I want to tell you about the joys and sorrows, the oppressing poverty, the frustrations and the dreams." Raised by a hard-working, hard-drinking father, a "very beautiful, tiny, blue-eyed" mother who loved books, and Cheechum, her father's Cree grandmother, Maria grows up strengthened by the Cree traditions and Cheechum's wisdom and weakened by the burdens and shame wrought by her family's steadily growing poverty. When Maria moves to Vancouver, British Columbia, she is confronted with the brutal realities of urban racism and poverty: drugs, prostitution, alcoholism, violence. After many years of hardship and struggle, Maria makes new friends who help her remember her Cheechum's lessons, and "years of searching, loneliness and pain" end. Through her work with organizations of Native people - "brothers and sisters, all over the country" - Maria Campbell shares her steeled strength and gentle wisdom about what it means to be Halfbreed. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14
. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Jesse Larsen
About the Author
Maria Campbell lives in Saskatchewan.