Winner, CODE’s 2016 Burt Award for First Nation, Inuit and Métis Literature
In this important graphic novel, two Aboriginal brothers surrounded by poverty, drug abuse, and gang violence, try to overcome centuries of historic trauma in very different ways to bring about positive change in their lives.
Pete, a young Aboriginal man wrapped up in gang violence, lives with his younger brother, Joey, and his mother who is a heroin addict. One night, Pete and his mother’s boyfriend, Dennis, get into a big fight, which sends Dennis to the morgue and Pete to jail. Initially, Pete keeps up ties to his crew, until a jail brawl forces him to realize the negative influence he has become on Joey, which encourages him to begin a process of rehabilitation that includes traditional Aboriginal healing circles and ceremonies.
Powerful, courageous, and deeply moving, The Outside Circle is drawn from the author’s twenty years of work and research on healing and reconciliation of gang-affiliated or incarcerated Aboriginal men.
[W]ith the Outside Circle, Patti LaBoucane-Benson and Kelly Mellings have brought Canada’s colonial history and its effects on Aboriginal people today to life in a powerful story.
I’m in awe of what you are holding in your hands. This is more than a graphic novel. It’s a teaching; it’s a reminder; and it’s a textbook of hard-won wisdom. It’s also a wish.
LaBoucane-Benson’s long career working with young people in Pete’s circumstances gives the story a strong emotional resonance and a solid historical and educational framework.
. . . the story becomes one of hope, not only for Pete, but for all aboriginal people healing from the intergenerational wounds of Canadian colonialism.
As brutal as Pete’s family’s story is, LaBoucane-Benson and Mellings’ sensitive, careful, honest presentation reveals a narrative that must be told, acknowledged, remembered, confronted, fixed.
A beautifully and powerfully told story.