Mink is a witness, a shape shifter, compelled to follow the story that has ensnared Celia and her village, on the West coast of Vancouver Island in Nuu’Chahlnuth territory.
Celia is a seer who — despite being convinced she’s a little “off” — must heal her village with the assistance of her sister, her mother and father, and her nephews.
While mink is visiting, a double-headed sea serpent falls off the house front during a fierce storm. The old snake, ostracized from the village decades earlier, has left his terrible influence on Amos, a residential school survivor. The occurrence signals the unfolding of an ordeal that pulls Celia out of her reveries and into the tragedy of her cousin’s granddaughter.
Each one of Celia’s family becomes involved in creating a greater solution than merely attending to her cousin’s granddaughter.
Celia’s Song relates one Nuu’Chahlnuth family’s harrowing experiences over several generations, after the brutality, interference, and neglect resulting from contact with Europeans.
About the author
Lee Maracle is a member of the Sto:Lo nation. She was born in Vancouver and grew up on the North Shore. She is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Ravensong and Daughters Are Forever. Her novel for young adults, Will’s Garden was well-received and is taught in schools. She has also published on book of poetry, Bent Box, and a work of creative non-fiction, I Am Woman. She is the co-editor of a number of anthologies, including the award winning anthology My Home As I Remember and Telling It: Women and Language across Culture. Her work has been published in anthologies and scholarly journals worldwide. The mother of four and grandmother of seven, Maracle is currently an instructor at the University of Toronto, the Traditional Teacher for First Nation’s House, and instructor with the Centre for Indigenous Theatre and the S.A.G.E. (Support for Aboriginal Graduate Education). She is also a writing instructor at the Banff Centre for the Arts.
In 2009, Maracle received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from St. Thomas University. Maracle recently received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work promoting writing among Aboriginal Youth, and is 2014 finalist for the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Maracle has served as Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, and the University of Western Washington.
- Short-listed, Neustadt International Prize for Literature
- Long-listed, CBC Canada Reads
- Short-listed, ReLit Award
- Commended, CTV Ottawa Best Reads of the Season
“Maracle in no way suggests that the answers to Canada’s colonial past are clear, but she tells a fiercely honest and wonderfully compassionate story.”
“There is no book that I’ve read that has had such an emotional impact. A stunning achievement. It is one of the absolute best books I’ve read in years and years.”
CBC All in a Day
“If you care about reconciliation and justice in Canada, ferociously beautiful prose and complex, compassionate character development, make time this year to listen to Celia’s song.”
“In gentle yet powerful prose, Maracle underscores the horrifying impact of the Residential School System, the ongoing problem of suicide, and the loss of tradition that continue to plague First Nations communities.”
Quill and Quire
“Vividly brings to life the destructive legacy of colonial times — and a community’s capacity for healing.”
“Maracle does not shy away from the worst social ills pulling the community apart – suicide, alcoholism, and sexual abuse among them – but she denies the fatalistic view, offering room for hope instead.”
The Globe and Mail
“Lee Maracle is one of Canada’s bravest literary voices. She writes with clear-eyed fierceness.”
“Reading Lee Maracle’s Celia’s Song feels like the best breathing I’ve ever done. It’s like finding an unlikely friend who truly recognizes me … both the content and structure of Celia’s Song transcend my limited worldview and expand my experience of humanity.”
“The story Maracle tells is one that makes intimate links between personal and cultural renewal, and illuminates the deep value of doing things ‘just as her ancestors would have.'”
“Cedar speaks. Bones demand the burial and loyalty due to them. Scents unravel memories. A two-headed serpent dislodges itself from a longhouse and wreaks havoc. Stories fiction themselves, have their own mind. Humans trip on the restless past, remember the future. And a shape-shifting mink, witness par excellence, watches it all unfold under its unflinching eye. Lee Maracle’s Sto:lo characters re-discover, against all odds, the restoring power of ceremony. Disturbing and heartbreaking, but also uplifting and inspirational, Celia’s Song is mind-changing.”