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Jesse Thistle and David A. Robertson In Conversation with Shelagh Rogers

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The inimitable Shelagh Rogers, host of CBC’s The Next Chapter, joins Jesse Thistle and David A. Robertson for a discussion on family, community and healing. Presented in partnership with the Ottawa International Writer’s Festival and Library and Archives Canada.

You can attend via Zoom (please register to receive the link) or by Facebook Live.

This event will also be available in French translation: 

L’événement sera diffusé en direct sur YouTube. (En anglais avec un service d’interprétation simultanée en français.)

From the Ashes, Jesse Thistle’s extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is. Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. In this heartwarming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.

The son of a Cree father and a non-Indigenous mother, David A. Robertson was raised with virtually no knowledge or understanding of his family’s Indigenous roots. His father, Don, spent his early childhood on a trapline in the bush northeast of Norway House, Manitoba, where his first teacher was the land. When his family was moved permanently to a nearby reserve, Don was not permitted to speak Cree at school unless in secret with his friends and lost the knowledge he had been gifted while living on his trapline. David’s mother, Beverly, grew up in a small Manitoba town with not a single Indigenous family in it. Then Don, the new United Church minister, arrived and they fell in love.

Structured around a father-son journey to the northern trapline where Robertson and his father will reclaim their connection to the land, Black Water: Family, Legacy, and Blood Memory is the story of another journey: a young man seeking to understand his father's story, to come to terms with his lifelong experience with anxiety, and to finally piece together his own blood memory, the parts of his identity that are woven into the fabric of his DNA.

We encourage our audiences to read widely, and shop (or borrow) locally. Please click on the author names to see the featured authors' books in the library catalogue: Jesse Thistle and David A. Robertson. A limited number of signed books are available from our friends at Perfect Books.