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Biography & Autobiography Native Americans


by (author) Soucy Jean-Yves

read by Braden Wright

translated by Peter McCambridge

Baraka Books
Initial publish date
May 2022
Native Americans, Personal Memoirs, 20th Century
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    Publish Date
    May 2022
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It is 1963, Jean-Yves Soucy is 18 and looking for a summer job. He dreams of being a fire warden scanning the boreal forest from a fire tower. But to his dismay he is sent to an equipment depot somewhere between Val-d’Or and Chibougamau in Northern Quebec. His disappointment vanishes when he learns that the depot is located near a Cree community and that he will have two Cree guides, including a man named William Saganash, and his work will involve canoeing through the lakes and rivers of the region.

On each encounter with the Crees, on each of the long trips across water or through the bush, Jean-Yves expects to see a new world but realizes he’s meeting a different civilization, as different from his own as Chinese civilization. Yet he knows nothing about it. Nor does he understand the nature surrounding them as do his Cree guides, and friends.

Jean-Yves Soucy wrote this story because Romeo Saganash, son of William, insisted: “You have to write that, Jean-Yves. About your relationship with my father and the others, how you saw the village. You got to see the end of an era.”

He unfortunately passed away before completing it. However, in his poignant Afterword, Romeo Saganash provides a finishing touch to this story of an unlikely meeting of two worlds.

About the authors

Soucy Jean-Yves' profile page

No Bio

Braden Wright's profile page

Originally from Ireland, Peter McCambridge holds a BA in modern languages from Cambridge University, England, and has lived in Quebec City since 2003. He runs Québec Reads and QC Fiction. His translations have been World Literature Today Notable Translations, longlisted for Canada Reads, and finalists for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Translation.

Peter McCambridge's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Short but very readable importance piece of historical literature (…) Soucy is adept at showing, not telling in his writing as he traverses water and land, villages and forest, contemporary white society and traditional Cree culture. He is an observer and learner.” — Daniel J. Rowe, Montreal Review of Books

“Waswanipi is a story brimming with big ideas to be savoured slowly. Soucy demonstrates great storytelling with an impressive memory for details and the translation is expertly handled by Peter McCambridge.” — The Nation (The Cree Nation News)

“Soucy’s narrative vividly recalls a time when the traditional life—living off the land, hunting, fishing, gathering—was still possible for the Cree Community, before the residential school system and relentless extraction of resources changed everything.” — Julie McGonegal, (Quill and Quire)

Other titles by Peter McCambridge