In honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, NWTMN beneficiary Bonita Nowell will be releasing her new book, My Mother’s Legacy on September 30th, 2023. A survival story and celebration of one woman’s life, My Mother’s Legacy is also a glimpse of the spirit, culture, and history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. From life on the trapline in the Far North to meeting the Pope at the Vatican, this is Angie Mercredi-Crerar’s journey of perseverance and triumph—as told by her daughter.
Growing up, Bonita’s mother rarely spoke about her childhood or family history in the Northwest Territories. Through her research, she has learned about the secret her mother carried until 2015, when she felt brave enough to share her residential school experience. Bonita also learned about her Métis heritage when she discovered that she is a sixth-generation Northerner and direct descendant of Francois Beaulieu (1771-1872), “Le Patriarche”, a founding father of the Métis of the Northwest Territories. Through this book, readers will learn about the many sources of resilience the author found throughout this amazing journey. Now that the book has been released, Bonita is beginning her work on the audiobook version!
My Mother’s Legacy is now available through the FriesenPress online bookstore at books.friesenpress.com and in the near future will also be available at most online booksellers such as Chapters/Indigo; Barnes & Noble; and Amazon. Also in the near future, readers can purchase the eBook on Kindle, Google Play, Kobo, Apple Books, and Nook Book. See website for details: www.bonitanowell.ca
Congratulations on your book release, Bonita! Keep up the fantastic work!
Q & A
- Tell us about yourself, and where you learned how to trace your family tree?
Growing up, my mother rarely spoke about her childhood or family history in the Northwest Territories. In 1976, when Alex Haley’s book Roots was published and followed by the 1977 television mini-series, I became inspired to trace my family tree. Haley used genealogical detective work to discover missing details of his family history. Around the same time, the local Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints advertised a course on how to trace your family tree; the ad in the local paper said was open to the public, so I signed up. The course pointed me in the right direction for a lifetime of genealogical research, tracing my family history using a variety of genealogical research documents, such as historical records (official and unofficial), census records, vital records, (birth, death, marriage certificates), questionnaires, stories (written and oral), and archival records of several public organizations to complete my family tree.
- The writing style of My Mother’s Legacy is unique. Can you tell us about your methods?
I used my Indigenous Voice and employed Elements of Indigenous Style, Chicago Manual of Style, Expository, Descriptive, and Narrative writing styles, to share this story. In doing so, I am also providing more avid readers with an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of this story through twenty-six footnotes and sixty bibliography references.
- The setting of My Mother’s Legacy adds much to the texture of the story. Can you tell us about why you chose to set the story there?
The setting was chosen because my mother was born in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories and where she attended St. Joseph’s residential school. It is also the oldest continuously occupied community in the Northwest Territories and dates back to 1786 with the Northwest Trading Co., and where Indigenous People have inhabited the region for more than 8000 years, long before fur traders arrived in the 1700’s.
- What can readers hope to learn from this book?
Through my mother’s story, I have forged a connection with family, ancestors, and community, as well as readers who may not have intimate knowledge of life in the North and the era of residential schools in Canada. This book honours my mother while also reflecting on life in the North and weaving together memorable characters and pivotal historic moments on the path to reconciliation. Readers will also learn about the many sources of resilience I found through this journey.