This book shares the life story of Anishinaabe artist Rene Meshake in stories, poetry, and Anishinaabemowin “word bundles” that serve as a dictionary of Ojibwe poetics. Meshake was born in the railway town of Nakina in northwestern Ontario in 1948, and spent his early years living off-reserve with his grandmother in a matriarchal land-based community he calls Pagwashing. He was raised through his grandmother’s “bush university,” periodically attending Indian day school, but at the age of ten Rene was scooped into the Indian residential school system, where he suffered sexual abuse as well as the loss of language and connection to family and community. This residential school experience was lifechanging, as it suffocated his artistic expression and resulted in decades of struggle and healing. Now in his twenty-eighth year of sobriety, Rene is a successful multidisciplinary artist, musician and writer. Meshake’s artistic vision and poetic lens provide a unique telling of a story of colonization and recovery.
The material is organized thematically around a series of Meshake’s paintings. It is framed by Kim Anderson, Rene’s Odaanisan (adopted daughter), a scholar of oral history who has worked with Meshake for two decades. Full of teachings that give a glimpse of traditional Anishinaabek lifeways and worldviews, Injichaag: My Soul in Story is “more than a memoir.”
About the authors
Rene Meshake is an Anishinaabe Elder, visual and performing artist, award-winning author, storyteller, flute player, new media artist and a Recipient of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Kim Anderson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Indigenous Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. She has published over thirty book chapters and journal articles and is also the principal investigator for two SSHRC research projects: Bidwewidam Indigenous Masculinities (2011-2014) and Indigenous Knowledge Translation in Urban Aboriginal Settings (2014-2017). Anderson is a long-standing advocate for Indigenous women and families and is regularly involved in community-based research and teaching in this area.
“I would highly suggest reading this beautiful bundle of words and images. Never have I understood more how important language is to the life of a culture. Thank you Rene for this gift to the wider community.”
“Where Elder Meshake is obviously shaped by his experience as an Ojibway boy and man in Canada, the soul-instory that he documents for the present and future focuses on life-giving Anishinaabe ways, the significance of relationships, endurance, good life, and creating. This is not so much a purposeful partitioning off of painful subjects as it is a broad teaching in itself: Anishinaabe life, lifeways, personhood, and the future are much more dynamic and omnipresent than ongoing colonization and its effects.”
The Malahat Review
Other titles by Kim Anderson
Conversations about Indigenous Manhood
Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters
A Recognition of Being, Second Edition
Reconstructing Native Womanhood
Indigenous Men and Masculinities
Legacies, Identities, Regeneration
Mothers of the Nations
Indigenous Mothering as Global Resistance, Reclaiming and Recovery
Life Stages and Native Women
Memory, Teachings, and Story Medicine
Strong Women Stories
Native Vision and Community Survival
A Recognition of Being
Reconstructing Native Womanhood