Margin Notes

CRAFT STUDIO BY GUEST WRITER TANYA SENECHAL: THE FIREKEEPERS DAUGHTER

Mar
21

What I Was Reading:

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine Firekeeper, who struggles to feel accepted within both the White and Indigenous communities in which she belongs. Daunis attempts to stay connected with her Ojibwe side, that of her late hockey-hero father but gets dragged into a local murder investigation that hits close to home. This novel is not only fast paced and well-crafted, but it centres Indigenous teachings at its core, as Daunis fights to save those she loves and protect her community.

 

I love my Elders.

I thought I had no resources on the ferry, except for the one lone Elder. But one led to another, and another. A resource I never anticipated during my time of dire need.

I’m reminded that our Elders are our greatest resource, embodying our culture and community. Their stories connect us to the language, medicines, land, clans, songs, and traditions. They are a bridge between the Before and the Now, guiding those of us who will carry on in the Future.

We honour our heritage and our people, those who are alive and those who’ve passed on. That’s important because it keeps the ones we lose with us. (453)

What Moves I Notice the Author Making:

  • The Indigenous “We” connects not only a community but a people. Daunis is one part of the whole, forever connected to her Ojibwe culture.
  • The use of language such as “stories connect us,” “bridge between,” and “honor our heritage” focuses on the community, not on the individual.
  • Boulley capitalizes Before, Now, and Future, showcasing Time as animate, as a living entity.
  • The focus is on Elders being the holders of Indigenous culture and the importance of Elders.
  • Boulley begins with a simple statement, then expands on the idea until the reason for that statement is evident, showing the cyclical nature of all things.

Possibility for Writers:

  • Notice and name another interesting craft move in this passage.
  • Write a paragraph in which you use the Before, Now and Future, similarly to Boulley, making Time animate.
  • Write a simple statement and expand it until the reason behind that statement is evident while using the cycle technique.
  • Revise a draft in your writer’s notebook by incorporating some of the craft moves you notice in this excerpt.
  • Previously in the novel, Boulley mentions the Seven grandfather teachings that the Anishinaabe live by – wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility, and truth. Have students find examples of these teachings in the excerpt and have them write about their own words by which to live.

 

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