From the Ashes, My Story of Being Métis, Homeless, and Finding My Way, By Jesse Thistle
In this extraordinary and inspiring debut memoir, Jesse Thistle, once a high school dropout and now a rising Indigenous scholar, chronicles his life on the streets and how he overcame trauma and addiction to discover the truth about who he is.
If I can just make it to the next minute...then I might have a chance to live; I might have a chance to be something more than just a struggling crackhead.
From the Ashes is a remarkable memoir about hope and resilience, and a revelatory look into the life of a Métis-Cree man who refused to give up.
Abandoned by his parents as a toddler, Jesse Thistle briefly found himself in the foster-care system with his two brothers, cut off from all they had known. Eventually the children landed in the home of their paternal grandparents, whose tough-love attitudes quickly resulted in conflicts. Throughout it all, the ghost of Jesse’s drug-addicted father haunted the halls of the house and the memories of every family member. Struggling with all that had happened, Jesse succumbed to a self-destructive cycle of drug and alcohol addiction and petty crime, spending more than a decade on and off the streets, often homeless. Finally, he realized he would die unless he turned his life around.
In this heart-warming and heart-wrenching memoir, Jesse Thistle writes honestly and fearlessly about his painful past, the abuse he endured, and how he uncovered the truth about his parents. Through sheer perseverance and education—and newfound love—he found his way back into the circle of his Indigenous culture and family.
An eloquent exploration of the impact of prejudice and racism, From the Ashes is, in the end, about how love and support can help us find happiness despite the odds.
About The Author
Jesse Thistle is Métis-Cree, from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He is an assistant professor in Métis Studies at York University in Toronto. He won a Governor General’s Academic Medal in 2016, and is a Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation Scholar and a Vanier Scholar. He lives in Toronto. Visit him on Twitter @MichifMan
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The lead single from Midnight Shine’s third album HIGH ROAD (released February 2018) is an exceptional cover of HEART OF GOLD, bringing a timely new sound to a timeless classic. This version is distinctly different, yet honours the heart and soul of the original.
“Quite a fascinating version of Neil’s song. Love the First Nations’ feel of it. Very cool...” -- John Einarson, Neil Young Biographer & Music Historian
"In a bold choice, the band pays tribute to one of Canada’s greatest songwriters and folk music’s greatest innovators, Neil Young. Their cover of his 1972 hit “Heart Of Gold” is stunning and not only links the group to the folk roots of rock and roll but also highlights the group’s Indigenous heritage through the vocal styling and with the final verse being translated into Mushkegowuk Cree. The track is not only a definite highlight among High Road, but also holds up to the original..." -- Gerrod Harris, Canadianbeats.ca
"Putting a fresh spin on a classic is a tough task, but James Bay-area Indigenous roots-rockers Midnight Shine manages to do just that. The familiar strummed guitar intro is accompanied by wailing Indigenous vocals that grab your attention instantly... Adrian Sutherland delivers a heartfelt and convincing vocal performance, and a section of the tune is sung in his Cree language. We reckon Neil would approve." -- Kerry Doole, FYI Music News
HEART OF GOLD (Cover) performed by Midnight Shine, posted with permission from Wixen Music Publishing, Inc. Written by Neil Young. Mushkegowuk Cree translation by Adrian Sutherland. Produced by Midnight Shine and John-Angus MacDonald at Jukasa Studios in Ohsweken, Ontario. Props to Jill Zimmermann, Darren Magierowski, Chris Gormley, João Carvalho.
HEART OF GOLD is available here:
Book review: Robert Foxcurran, Michel Bouchard, and Sébastien Malette. Songs Upon the Rivers The Buried History of the French-Speaking Canadiens and Métis from the Great Lakes and the Mississippi across to the Pacific
The prevailing scholarship about the Metis people has always acknowledged that the Metis Nation has its origins and history in western Canada and the northern Great Plains of the United States. In 2016, an ambitious attempt by three French-Canadian scholars to reframe "Metis" as a universal phenomenon was published by Baraka Books. This book was well-received in French-speaking areas of eastern Canada, but tended to fall flat in areas of the country where the understanding of what and who are Metis is better known and based on a vast volume of primary and secondary historical sources.
The following book review by Emilie Pigeon, published in the Montreal Review of Books, found several glaring issues with the scholarship contained in this book, including missing or purposely omitted information that runs contrary to the book's thesis, including an attempt to co-opt the Ojibwe term "Boozhoo" as having a French origin, serving as proof of Metis existence and influence in the Great Lakes region.
Come July, the Old Trail Museum is offering another chance for Montanans to experience some ancient history right in their backyard.
The Choteau museum is once again offering two tours this summer of the Old North Trail, an ancient highway thought to have been formed thousands of years ago as people migrated from Asia by way of the Bering Sea land bridge and traveled south.
The tours offer a rare glimpse of the once-thriving land on the Rocky Mountain Front that is not usually open to the general public, said Julie Ameline, manager of the Old Trail Museum.
“The only way people can see this is if they go on our tours, because a lot of it is on private property,” Ameline said. “So, you can’t just go out there and start wandering around by yourself. So, that’s why we do these tours.”
The first tour is on July 13, featuring the north side of the trail, followed by the south side trek on July 20. To sign up for either of the tours, call the Old Trail Museum at 406-466-5332. There is a suggested donation to the museum of $25 per adult and $10 for children, which is paid on the day of the tour.
Each tour is 6-7 hours, some on foot and some by vehicle.
“It’s not a strenuous outing, but there is some walking,” Ameline said.
The tours are guided by geologist Dave Shea, V.V. Shea, Dave Hartman, Anne Dellwo, and historian Al Wiseman.
The Old North Trail was an ancient migrant route stretching from northern Canada all the way to Mexico. Markers along the old route are still there in places, Ameline said.
There are still artifacts from Native American tribes from the area, as well as the Metis, a tribe of people of Native American, French and Scottish ancestry.
“I love the history of what’s happened up there in the mountains,” Ameline said. “From the Metis landing there and being like refugees in the canyon. The Metis cemetery is absolutely awesome, and seeing parts of the Old North Trail. I guess I like it all.”
The Old North Trail is believed to have formed thousands of years ago when people from Asia crossed the Bering Sea land bridge and made their way south. The trail was heavily used by the Blackfeet tribes in the area and by the Metis, people of mixed French and Native American blood.
The Teton Cnayon Cemetery, a burial ground for many of the Metis people in the area, interned its first body in 1890. Marguerite LaRance was born in 1817 and died when she was 73 years old. She is buried beneath an old aspen tree in the center of the cemetery. (Photo: Great Falls Tribune Photo/Sarah Dettmer)
According to his research, 60 per cent of Juno-winning or Juno-nominated albums by Canadian Indigenous artists aren't available on those sorts of services. As a result, the Legacy Project has been started to ensure Indigenous musicians are better represented on streaming music services like Spotify.
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