mahikan ka onot collects the finest work of accomplished Indigenous poet Duncan Mercredi, from his first book in 1991 to recent unpublished poems. These are poems of life on the land as well as life in the city, vibrant with the rhythms of traditional Cree and Métis storytelling but also with the clamour and the music of the streets.
This book brings the work of Duncan Mercredi (Cree/Métis) back into the public eye, providing a new generation of readers with the opportunity to experience his unique artistry. Mercredi brings to these poems the sensibility of a Cree speaker and a renowned oral storyteller, revealing a deep attachment to the land and a nuanced understanding of the complexities of contemporary Indigenous life. In startlingly direct, plainspoken language, the poet explores themes of cultural resurgence and steadfast connections among the generations, even amid the unfolding tragedies wrought by colonialism.
Some of these poems are memories of traditional life on the land, especially in the time before Manitoba Hydro radically altered Mercredi’s home community of Grand Rapids, Manitoba. Others focus on the urban Indigenous experience, based upon Mercredi’s longstanding and intimate knowledge of Winnipeg. Like mahikan, the wolf, Mercredi’s characters are often outsiders in certain contexts, but the poems reveal other perspectives that allow us to understand their loyalty and their love of community.
The volume includes an afterword by Duncan Mercredi and an introduction by Métis scholar Warren Cariou, both of which provide resources for deeper study of the poems.
About the authors
Duncan Mercredi was born in Misipawistik (Grand Rapids) Manitoba to a Métis father and Cree mother. He resided there until the age of sixteen until he left to attend high school in Cranberry Portage. After graduating, he entered the blue-collar working world. Mercredi is now retired and living in Winnipeg.
Warren Cariou was born in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, into a family of mixed Métis and European heritage. He has written many articles about Canadian Aboriginal literature, especially on Métis culture and storytelling, and he has published two books: a collection of novellas, The Exalted Company of Roadside Martyrs (1999) and a memoir/cultural history, Lake of the Prairies: A Story of Belonging (2002). He has also co-directed and co-produced two films about Aboriginal people in western Canada’s oil sands region: Overburden and Land of Oil and Water. Cariou has won and been nominated for numerous awards. His most acclaimed work to date, Lake of the Prairies, won the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Charles Taylor Prize for literary nonfiction in 2004. His films have screened at many national and international film festivals, including Hot Docs, ImagineNative, and the San Francisco American Indian Film Festival. Cariou has also served as editor for several books, including an anthology of Aboriginal literature, W’daub Awae: Speaking True (2010), and he is the fiction co-editor of Prairie Fire. Cariou is a Canada Research Chair in Narrative, Community and Indigenous Cultures at the University of Manitoba, where he also directs the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture.
Other titles by Warren Cariou
Conversations about Indigenous Manhood
Reimagining Water in the West
Colonialism in Canada
Indigenous Men and Masculinities
Legacies, Identities, Regeneration
Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water
W'daub Awae, Speaking True
A Kegedonce Press Anthology