A few years ago now, I found myself in between books and unsure about what to write. After a few weeks of indecision, I wound up starting a rather fun project that I never actually intended to publish—or even finish—but started to become more and more invested in the longer I worked on it. Once the rough draft was done though, I put it away and moved on to writing something else. I never really intended to return to it. That all changed when I happened across the book in May/June of this year and found myself getting caught up in the story again and next thing you know the book I was supposed to be writing had fallen by the wayside and another book had emerged in its place! And now that book is (mostly) done.
It's an adaptation of the wonderful and much-loved Pride & Prejudice except all of characters are Indigenous and they live in a fictional First Nation community called Smoke River. And honestly—this book was so much fun to write.
Over the weekend, between two holidays celebrating two countries that have developed their identities on Turtle Island, my husband and I had a conversation about how we'll approach certain discussions with our daughters, who we hope will grow up enjoying reading and books as much as we do (including Harry Potter). In particular, we were referring to literature that erases the presence of Indigenous Peoples on Turtle Island, the way J.K. Rowling's most recent Pottermore stories that take place in North America have done. Some of our discussion was also prompted by reading this article and thinking about the responsibilities we have as parents to speak up when things like this happen or to help educate others so that ours and other children experience less incidents of discrimination and racism in the world.
The answers we came to were not really simple. For the most part, they involved a lot of compassion, a lot of empathizing, a lot of patience, a lot of resilience and a willingness to flag when something doesn't feel right and to be able to talk about it with our girls in a good way. (Also a lot of learning of our language, sharing of our oral histories and writing of new stories).