Elise Fontenaille, La Cérémonie d’Hiver (2010)

Once again, December feels hectic, and not only on the holidays’ side. I have 9 books awaiting a post before the end of the year. So much for posting regularly and more often. That’s a good enough reason to keep posts short.

I borrowed this short middle grade novel from the teenagers library because it is set in Vancouver and talks about the Haida people, an indigenous people of British Columbia. I went for our honeymoon to British Columbia and I was stunned by the beauty of its landscapes, as well as impressed by the Haida art I discovered while visiting the Museum within the University of B.C..

This short novel centers on a young Haida woman who works as an eagle trainer. She lives on the highest storey of a tower with her pet eagle, Sky. Her whole life has been one of hardships and discrimination, and as the book starts her grandmother has died upon leaving prison after protesting against the construction of a massive highway to the Olympic sites. Apparently those parts of the novel were inspired by true facts.

In short sentences and with a very noir atmosphere, Fontenaille describes how the young woman will exert her revenge against those she feels responsible for her death, and against abusers of the indigenous Canadian people. The novel is quite stark and convincing.

I was touched by this novel more than I thought, because our trip there was all before the Olympics, before the protests and the destruction of some preserved sites in the name of efficient organization of a one-time event. I remember vividly taking the Sea to Sky Highway with my husband, following Horseshoe Bay, leaving the city of Vancouver behind us and turning inland towards Whistler. I didn’t know about those sad events. I’d imagined that the landscapes I’d seen had remained untouched. I so wish it was true.

(as far as I know, this book is only available in French)


2 thoughts on “Elise Fontenaille, La Cérémonie d’Hiver (2010)

  1. Sounds like a good book, even more so since you have been to where it takes place. 9 books needing to be reviewed is quite a backlog and with the holidays too, no wonder you are feeling things are so hectic! No need to rush the reviews though especially if they get in the way of enjoying the season.

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