As a North American of European ancestry, Victoria Freeman sought to answer the following question: how did I come to inherit a society that has dispossessed and oppressed the indigenous people of this continent? After seven years of research into her own family’s involvement in the colonization of North America, she uncovered a story that begins in England, in 1588, and concludes in Ontario, in the 1920s. Among many others, we meet Puritan fur-trader and interpreter Thomas Stanton, who in 1637 participated in a genocidal war against the Pequots of New England, and nine-year-old Elisha Searl, who was captured in Massachusetts in 1704 by Native allies of the French, eventually becoming a “white Indian,” but was eventually “deprogrammed” by the Puritans.
Through both the ordinary and remarkable episodes in her ancestors’ lives, and her own travels to the places where her ancestors lived, she illuminates the process of North American colonization. Freeman neither demonizes nor whitewashes her ancestors, but instead attempts to understand their actions and choices both in the context of their time and with the benefit of hindsight.
About the author
Victoria Freeman was born in Ottawa and attended the University of Toronto. Her working life has included supervising a model-rocket launch site, practising sheep midwifery, teaching English in Swaziland, Africa, co-coordinating a major women’s literary conference, raising funds for the world’s first circumpolar English/Inuktitut literary magazine, and writing, editing, and mothering. She lives in Toronto.
“An original and very moving history, Distant Relations is nothing less than a deep meditation on what it is to be a North American. Victoria Freeman explores families and nations with rigour, sensitivity, passion, lively writing, and a fine moral compass.”
–Ronald Wright, author of Stolen Continents
“Engagingly written.…a new perspective on both Canadian and American colonial history.”
–Olive Dickason, author of Canada’s First Nations