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Social Science Native American Studies


by (author) Maria Campbell

Formac Publishing Company Limited
Initial publish date
Jan 1983
Native American Studies, Women's Studies
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 1983
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 16
  • Grade: 11


Maria Campbell's biography is a classic, vital account of a young Métis woman's struggle to come to terms with the joys, sorrows, loves and tragedies of her northern Saskatchewan childhood.
Maria was a strong and sensitive child who lived in a community robbed of its pride and dignity by the dominant culture. At 15 she tried in vain to escape by marrying a white man, only to find herself trapped in the slums of Vancouver -- addicted to drugs, tempted by suicide, close to death. But the inspiration of her Cree great-grandmother, Cheechum, gives her confidence in herself and in her people, confidence she needs to survive and to thrive.
Half-Breed offers an unparalleled understanding of the Métis people and of the racism and hatred they face. Maria Campbell's story cannot be denied and it cannot be forgotten: it stands as a challenge to all Canadians who believe in human rights and human dignity

About the author

Maria Campbell is a Métis writer, playwright, filmmaker, scholar, teacher, community organizer, activist, and elder. Halfbreed is regarded as a foundational work of Indigenous literature in Canada. She has authored several other books and plays, and has directed and written scripts for a number of films. She has also worked with Indigenous youth in community theatre and advocated for the hiring and recognition of Indigenous people in the arts. She has mentored many Indigenous artists during her career, established shelters for Indigenous women and children, and run a writers’ camp at the national historical site at Batoche, where every summer she produces commemorative events on the anniversary of the battle of the 1885 North-West Resistance. Maria Campbell is an officer of the Order of Canada and holds five honorary doctorates.

Maria Campbell's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"You can almost feel this book vibrating in your hands, it is so compelling. You read it with a kind of agonized, heart-in-the-mouth sensation, halfway between laughter and tears.... Truth is stronger than fiction."

Victoria Times-Colonist

"The daring account of a strong-willed woman who defeated poverty, racism, alcohol and drug addiction by the age of thirty-three."

Saturday Night

"When her powerful personal story, Halfbreed, was published in 1973, it had been credited with the rebirth of Indigenous literature ... Reading Halfbreed opened my eyes to racism as a social determinant of health — the racism we're still fighting today in all our institutions. It's this racism that explains missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people and people of colour in our prisons."

Globe and Mail

Librarian Reviews


Maria Campbell’s autobiography about her marginalization as a Métis woman has become a classic of Canadian aboriginal literature. By speaking to the larger issues of discrimination, poverty and violence, she has given voice to the Métis, illustrating their importance to Canadian history. She was born near Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, where her ancestors fought during the Riel Rebellion. After the death of her parents, she married an abusive white alcoholic at 15. She then drifted into drugs and prostitution. Campbell regained her sense of self by drawing strength from the love of her cheechum (great-grandmother), through AA, and through the growing Native Rights movement. Through the writing process, she transformed experiences of shame and suffering into a story of personal redemption.

Campbell is now a respected elder. She has several honorary degrees.

Caution: References to drinking, drugs and sex.

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

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