Wabanang, an Anishinaabe granddaughter’s search for the truth by Judii Merle


In the winter of 1876, a baby is born to Anishinaabe parents along the trapline in the northern Ontario wilderness. Seventy-five years later, her granddaughter is seeking information about her grandmother’s life, why her family is so fractured, and what part the residential school played in the dysfunction and estrangement which has shaped her own life. To that end, twenty-two year old Janey enlists the help of a hypnotist who regresses Janey back to a time when Indigenous people in Canada lived off the land, supported each other and raised their children without outside interference. But when settlers began to arrive and residential schools were established, all that changed.

In her hypnotic state, Janey is able to follow her grandmother, Wabanang (Morning Star) as a child, as a residential school student and as a medicine woman for her people. But the seeds of distrust and fear sown along the way are destroying her family. Estranged from her mother and living with her only relative, Janey must find her own way through the smoke of confusion to discover who she is.

About Author - Judi Merle

For many years, Judi sat at the feet of Algonquin Nokomis Fay Hollywood, which led her to work with the Kataroqui Indigenous Health Council, the Grandmothers Council, as well as the Limestone and Algonquin Lakeshore School Boards. As a leader of women and teacher of youth, she has been sharing Indigenous perspectives and inclusivity for more than twenty years in correctional facilities, places of worship, hospitals, government offices and schools from primary to university.

Since childhood, Judi has been a family historian and amateur genealogist. With an extensive database of family lines, she connects people with their cultural heritage, as she continues to research her own Indigenous, French and German ancestors. As well, Judi is committed to reclaiming and sharing Indigenous arts, such as drumming, beading, leather work and language.

It was her love of music which led her to form a drum group, Sisters of the Drum, who through engagement with the community have been promoting unity and healing for twenty years. The group has traveled through Ontario and northern US and produced three CDs of traditional hand-drum medicine.

Judi lives with her husband, Paul, in southeastern Ontario. In this, her first novel, she weaves her love of storytelling, genealogy and Indigenous wisdom to give a glimpse of the past, while opening the door to the future. She is a mother of three and grandmother to eight.



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