Downstream: Bestemor and Me
Hagios Press / 29 May 2015

Downstream: Bestemor & Me by Vangie Bergum Published by Hagios Press Review by Keith Foster $18.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-26-6 In Downstream: Bestemor & Me, Vangie Bergum takes readers on her spiritual journey of self-awakening, self-discovery, and self-empowerment. Through creative non-fiction, she interweaves her own life story with that of her grandparents, peppering her narrative with Norwegian words and phrases, reflecting her ancestral background. While visiting Norway, she ponders why her grandparents left “this verdant land to spend their lives in the dry, treeless, windy spaces of the Saskatchewan prairies.” Her name, Bergum, “means encircled or surrounded by mountains,” and she wonders if this is where she was meant to be. In a twist of fate, the next generation, her mother’s generation, fears “the hovering mountains,” she says. “They claim they can only breathe on the non-stop prairie.” As she explores her Norwegian roots, Bergum uncovers a family tragedy – the deaths of her grandparents and their two daughters. She says the manner of their deaths – murder and suicide – brought shame to her family, “a shame encoded in my life from the time of my conception.” Adding to that shame is the fact that her grandmother spent time in two…

A Family of Our Own

A Family of Our Own by Donna Miller Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing Review by Kris Brandhagen $21.95 978-1927756-08-9 A Family of Our Own, by Donna Miller, book two of her Help Me, I’m Naked series of books, proves an excellent read on its own, honest and earnest, independently of the first and third books. Miller opens the story with a prologue, in a way that abruptly smacks of childlike innocence. “My daddy would never do something like that for real. The arguing and fighting were plays they put on for my benefit, though my young mind couldn’t understand why they would want to perform such horrible plays. Sometimes I found the scenes so scary, so crimson, I would go hide in my closet.” This sense of disbelief sets the stage for the body of the book, which is a memoir (with changed names) of the tragedies that she and the women and children in her family have endured, spanning the years 1966 through 1974, when the main character, Korel, is in grade seven to the age of twenty-three. The severity of Korel’s own situation is hinted at through her sense of awe at finding herself in the midst…

Maskisina
Gabriel Dumont Institute / 27 May 2015

Maskisina: A Guide to Northern-Style Métis Moccasins by Gregory Scofield and Amy Briley, Historical Overview by Sherry Farrell Racette Published by Gabriel Dumont Institute Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $24.95 ISBN 978-1-926795-11-9 Here’s a test for the efficacy of a “How To” book: 1) select one on a subject you have no knowledge of, and perhaps no previous interest in. 2) carefully read it. 3) if said title inspires you to want to do the “How To,” then you’ve just read a successful book. I came to maskisina: A Guide to Northern-Style Métis Moccasins, by Gregory Scofield and Amy Briley, without knowing anything about the subject, though I spent years in northern Saskatchewan. The attractive, coil-bound guide is filled with step-by-step instructions and large photo illustrations that even the uncrafty could easily follow to create fur-trimmed, cuffed, or wrap-around moccasins from home-tanned moose hide or commercially-tanned leather. (Gorgeous beaded “vamps” that cover the forefoot are another skill, and literally, another book; see wâpikwaniy: A Beginner’s Guide to Métis Floral Beadwork, also published by the Gabriel Dumont Institute.) The actual instructions, “Helpful Hints,” and brief anecdotes\advice (ie: “Acknowledge and respect that you are making a connection. The pair of moccasins you…

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