Kiss of the Fur Queen is a captivating and beautifully written novel by Tomson Highway. Champion and Ooneemeetoo Okimasis are two Cree brothers from northern Manitoba and are sent to a Catholic residential school where they are forced to go by the names Jeremiah and Gabriel, they can’t speak their language or practice their culture and they are abused by the teachers. They end up facing challenges and internal struggles because of this as they realize their destiny as artists with the shape-shifting Fur Queen watching over them.
I one thing I find endlessly fascinating about many aboriginal authors is their unique writing style and how they incorporate spirituality into their stories and books. There is this spiritual element that Tomson Highway draws upon and incorporates into the story as if it always belonged there. It’s such a beautiful view of the Cree cultural and spiritual beliefs. For me, the spirituality that is included is unique and it sticks out as much as it is also subtle and soft. I’m not even sure I have more words for it, it’s just an element I really appreciated in Kiss of the Fur Queen.
I really enjoyed Kiss of the Fur Queen. I really enjoy novels that provide an opportunity to learn about aboriginal culture and awful things like residential schools. Also, I thought it was lovely that Tomson Highway wrote Jeremiah/Champion and Gabriel/Ooneemeetoo as a pianist and ballet dancer respectively. With respect to the residential schools, it’s appalling that they existed, the abuses that occurred there were awful, and that I know people who went to them and that will never cease to break my heart. Those schools have left their mark and I think it is so important for all Canadians to understand that dark part of our history, especially because it was within my parents and grandparents generations that this was happening. So, with that in mind, I think it is so important for authors like Tomson Highway to write novels that include residential schools, along with aboriginal culture, language and spirituality.
I do think that this book would be decent for everyone to include on their reading list.
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