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Literary Criticism Native American

Bear Bones & Feathers

by (author) Louise Halfe

Coteau Books
Initial publish date
Jan 1994
Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1994
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11

About the author

Louise Bernice Halfe was born in Two Hills, Alberta. Her Cree name is Sky Dancer. She was raised on the Saddle Lake Indian Reserve and attended Blue Quills Residential School. Halfe's first published poetry appeared in Writing the Circle: Women of Western Canada. She has since published four collections. Bear Bones & Feathers was published in 1994. It received the Canadian People's Poet Award and was a finalist for the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award. Blue Marrow was published in 1998 and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Poetry, Pat Lowther Award, and Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award. The Crooked Good was published in 2007. Her most recent collection, Burning in This Midnight Dream, was published in 2016 and details Halfe's personal response to the Truth and Reconciliation process and how the experiences of residential school children continue to haunt those who survive, and how the effects are passed down for generations. The book won three Saskatchewan Book Awards and the League of Canadian Poets Raymond Souster Award. Halfe has served as poet laureate of Saskatchewan and is widely recognized for weaving Cree language and teachings into her works. A collection of Halfe's work, Sohkeyihta, containing poems written across the expanse of her career, was published by Wilfrid Laurier Press in 2018. Halfe has a Bachelor of Social Work, and received a Honorary Degree of Letters from Wilfrid Laurier University. She currently works with Elders in an organization called Opikinawasowin ("raising our children"). Halfe lives outside of Saskatoon with her husband.

Louise Halfe's profile page

Librarian Reviews

Bear Bones & Feathers

In her poetry Halfe reflects on her life growing up with her parents and grandmother on the reserve. She speaks frankly about the domestic violence and substance abuse she witnessed as a child as well as the stories of abuse in residential schools. Yet, through all the sorrow and anger of her past, she finds joy and solace, especially through her grandmother, a medicine woman. Halfe’s poems, grounded in oral traditions, are rich in spiritualism, animal imagery and metaphor. Halfe incorporates Cree language into her poems.

This collection won the 1996 Milton Acorn Award.

Caution: Includes some coarse language, violence and sexual abuse.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2011-2012.

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