Home Arts & Culture Trickster trilogy a blend of sad, scary and funny

Trickster trilogy a blend of sad, scary and funny

For the sixth year in a row, since the beginning, The Eastern Door is once again celebrating Cultural Awareness Month by promoting Kanien’kéha .
Watch for the various stories translated by Akwiratékha Martin throughout the month of April! The following article is published here in both languages.

Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson’s 10-page short story about the trickster Wee’git went from short story to novella to 1,000-page epic, and she had to decide what to do with the story.

She decided to cut the 1,000 pages into three, and a third of the story became Son of a Trickster (Alfred A. Knopf, $32), the first volume in Robinson’s trickster trilogy.

The book centres on the hard-drinking, weed cookie-dealing teenaged boy Jared, and his equally hard-partying, hard-talking TMI mother. How many moms tell their sons when they’re about to get lucky with their drug-dealing boyfriend Richie?

Hooked yet? Wait. There’s more.

The two live in a small BC town inhabited by a collection of colourful and memorable characters of the real and spiritual plane.

The book bounces between a tale about teenage angst and myths, as Jared stumbles along an inebriated path to self-discovery that includes a tussle with otter people and a few conversations with ravens.

I thought otters were playful and fun once. Not anymore. Just ask Jared’s nana.

The book is clever, well-written and with a fluid pace that makes it a solid double punch, meaning you’ll enjoy it by a poolside on spring break or in a classroom for study.

It balances Robinson’s culture with her knack for developing relatable and engaging characters.

The strongest parts of the book are those grounded in the real battles between Jared and his mother, Jared and his father, Jared and his girlfriend, Jared and his…

There’s a pattern forming here. He’s a scrapper.

Jared is a great central character. He is frustrating when making some decisions, but charming when making others. He’s someone everyone knows (or is?), and his journey is one readers will enjoy following.

Robinson spoke about the cultural importance of Wee’git stories on CBC’s Unreserved with Rosanna Deerchild.

“We told Wee’git stories after supper when the families would gather and have coffee and cigarettes, so I grew up with a lot of Wee’git stories,” said Robinson. “I haven’t really found a way to put him in my very grim fiction.”

This is where the novel could have gone off-track, but manages to find a median.

She peppers the opening two-thirds of the book with enough mystery surrounding Jared to make the transition from gritty reality to the spiritual world work, where some writers may have failed.

Her novel achieves success in balancing scenes of tragedy, gritty reality, mystic surrealism and those that are straight up funny.

The humour is something Robinson, who has one of those infectious laughs you want at any gathering, said comes from home right alongside the traditions.

“In personal life, I have a very funny family,” said Robinson. “When hard things happen, when we have a series of death, how we get through it is come together, have memorials and our traditional way of mourning and tell funny stories about the person who passed. And if someone gets very ill, we use our sense of humour to get us through things.”

The only downside to the book is knowing that there are two more coming, and that we’re all just going to have to hurry up and WAIT for them to come out. Stupid patience. 

Literary icon dies too soon

IMG_9444Word got out last month that one of the country’s most inspiring and promising literary lives was cut short at the age of 61. 

Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese, born in the Wabesseemoong First Nation, died after forging a reputation as one of the premier Onkwehón:we storytellers in the nation.

No cause of death was given by the family or reported.

He wrote a book of poetry, five non-fiction titles, and six novels, including the hugely popular Indian Horse, a book that gained national acclaim.

Wagamese was a child of the 60s Scoop and struggled through the foster care system in suburban Toronto before finding his roots on a traditional Ojibway camping trip when he was 22.

He went on to work in radio, print and television as a journalist, and was the first Onkwehón:we writer to win a National Newspaper Award for column writing in 1991, and twice won the Native American Press Association Award.

His first novel Keeper ‘n Me won the Alberta Writers Guild’s Best Novel Award in 1994, the first of many.

His latest memoir Embers was released in October.

“Life sometimes is hard,” Wagamese writes in Embers. “There are challenges. There are difficulties. There is pain. As a younger man, I sought to avoid them and only ever caused myself more of the same.

“These days I choose to face life head on – and I have become a comet. I arc across the sky of my life and the harder times are the friction that lets the worn and tired bits drop away. It’s a good way to travel; eventually I will wear away all resistance until all there is left of me is light. I can live towards the end.”


Io’nikonhráksa’t, iótteron tánon’ iosté:ris ne kí:ken áhsen nikaboktsherá:ke ne tehshakorihwaierónnions raoká:ra.

Haisla tánon’ Heiltsuk na’kaia’tò:ten’ kahiá:tons Eden Robinson aohiatónhsera wa’kowáhnha’, shontontáhsawen’ 10 khok niiora’wístake onhská:neke’ nek tsi kí:ken tehshakorihwaierónnions Wee’git raoká:ra wa’kowáhnha’ tsi niió:re énska tháosehn niiora’wístake, thó:ner ó:nen’k tsi ia’tiorihwaién:ta’se’ oh nenká:iere’ ne kí:ken oká:ra.

Ia’tiorihwaién:ta’se’ ne áhsen na’takaià:khon’ kí:ken énska tháosehn niiora’wistake, tánon’ thí:ken tiothiatonhseratierénhton ne áhsen nikahiatonhserá:ke Son of a Tricker konwá:iats.

Thí:ken kahiatónhsera kahiá:ton kí:ken ranekénhteron, Jared ronwá:iats, tánon’ ro’nisténha. Rahnekakà:stha’ tánon’ kaien’kwáksen akarè:t ratenhní:nons, tánon’ aónha waton’wésen’s tánon’ iah tetio’serehtèn:ton. Tó: nikón:ti ka’nisténhsera ronwatihró:ris ronwatiien’okòn:’a kátke skátne enhiá:rate’ ne akóhskare Richie teiako’nikonhraténie’s ratenhní:nons? Ó:nen ken tisa’nikonhratihénthon kí:ken kahiatónhsera? Satehrhá:rat. Shé: ká:ien.

BC thninákere, ken’ nikanatà:’a, tho nón:we thatinákere ni’ nen’ nè:’e ne thia’tehá:ti thia’tehorihwarà:’on. Enhsheiehià:rake’ tsi nihá:ti ronnónhnhe tánon’ ne iah teshonnónhnhe.

Kahiatónhsera kaká:ratons oh niiohtonhátie’ tsi tahotehiahróntie’ ne Jared tánon’ ne kakara’shòn:’a. Enhsewennahnó:ton’ oh ní:ioht tsi rohné:ka enhatatia’tatshén:ri’, oh neniá:wen’ne’ nó:nen tenhontátken’ ne otawinehró:non takwaré:re rotí:ien, tánon’ tohkára nienká:ienhte’ tsokawe’kó:wa tenhatihtharónnion’.

Wà:kehrek ion’wé:sen tsi nikontiia’tò:ten ne tawí:ne, nek tsi iah ó:nen né: téskehre. Kwah nek serihwanón:tonhs ne Jared rohsótha.

Watié:sen aiako’nikonhraién:ta’ne’ kí:ken oká:ra, ioiánere tsi ní:ioht tsi kahiá:ton tánon’ ioiánere tsi ní:ioht tsi kakarahserón:ni, kwah ensa’nikonhraié:na’, né: kén:ton tsi ákta tsi iontawenstáhkhwa’ enson’éskwen’ ahsewennahnó:ton’ tsi nikarì:wes satoríshen ne kokwitè:ne (tóka’ ni’ nó:nen saniehtó:ron) tóka’ ni’ nó:nen tsi ionteweienstáhkhwa’ sateweiénstha’.

Tsi ní:tsi kahiá:ton, akwé:kon sha’tehonátte ne Robin tsi niiorihò:ten tánon’ tsi nihá:ti iakaonkwe’tisa’ánion, kaweién:te aionkwe’tón:ni’ ne watié:sen taiesewatén:ro’ne’ tánon’ aontaionsa’nikonhratihéntho’.

Kí: kahiatónhsera akwáh tio’shátste nó:nen sawennà:note tsi iaterí:ios ne Jared tánon’ ro’nisténha, Jared tánon’ ro’níha, Jared tánon’ raóhskare, Jared tánon’ rao-…

Iotkà:te se’ tho nitsá:wen’s wáhi. Raterí:ios nen’ nè:’e.

Kwáh akwé:kon ki’ rakarenhá:wi ne Jared. Tenha’nikonhrhá:ren’ nó:nen thé:nen ia’tenhorihwaién:ta’se’ wáhi, nek tsi né: kwi’ ò:ni’ ion’wé:sen tsi nenhaia’tò:ten’ne’ nó:nen ò:ia’ nahò:ten ia’tenhorihwaién:ta’se’. Akwé:kon ki’ ronwaienté:ri (kén:?), tánon’ tsi nítson ensewawennahnó:ton’ entson’éskwen’ tsi nenhoia’tawénhseron’.

CBC Tsi Thatirihowanáhtha’ nón:we wa’tkenihthá:ren’ ne Unreserved waterihwahtentià:tha’ Rosanna Deerchild tánon’ Robinson, wa’kenihthá:rahkwe’ tó: ki’ niioriohwá:nen ne Wee’git raokara’shòn:’a ne tsi niiakorihò:ten nonká:ti.

Robinson wa’kè:ron’, “Shontonkwatehiahróntie’ é:so ki’ wakkarahrón:ken ne Wee’git raokara’shòn:’a. Kwah kaní:io’k akwé: akhwá:tsire wa’akwakhwén:ta’ne’ wa’akwakaratónnion’ tsi ionkwatia’tarò:ron ótia’ke ionkwahnekì:ren káwhe tánon’ shíkaret ionkwatshókwen. Iáhten akwáhs tewaketshénrion tsi nón:we akhiá:ton’ raoká:ra nakhiatonhserà:ke. Io’nikonhráksa’t, tiotón’nekt tánon’ iah tó:ske té:ken ne nahò:ten wakhiá:ton.”

Aio’taksèn:’en ne tho nikakarò:ten, nek tsi iah tho teiawèn:’en né: tsi wa’ekwé:ni’ ne tóhsa sótsi taontenòn:ianihte’.

Tsi tiotahsawáhkwen ne aohiatónhsera ia’tekaié:ri tsi ní:kon iorihwahséhton ne Jared raorihwa’shòn:’a, wa’kakwé:ni’ se’ wáhi tetsá:ron akaká:raton’ tó: niwentó:re tsi rónhnhe tánon’ ne orihwatokenhtíhtshera. É:so rá:ti ratihiá:tons iah kwi’ né: tehotikwénion ahatiká:raton’.

Akwé:kon ki’ sha’tekakarí:io’s  tsi ki’ ní:tsi iohiá:ton ne atera’swaksénhtshera, tsi niwentó:re naiakónhnheke’,  karihwahséhton tánon’ ne iokarasté:ris.

Akwáh entisa’nikonhratihéntho’ aiesaiéshon’ nó:nen ensathón:te’ne’ tsi ioiéshon ne Robinson tsi tkanenhrón:ni, wá:ton se’ wáhi ne Robinson tsi tho se’ nihotirihò:ten’ ne aiakoiéshon’.

“Akwáh í:ken tsi rotiia’tasté:ris ne akhwá:tsire. Nó:nen thé:nen enionkwarihwákste’se’, tóka’ ónhka’k eniaíheie’, tiótkon entsakwatia’tarò:roke’ entsakwehiahrà:seron’ tsi niieia’to’ténhne ne iakawenhé:ion. Tsi ionkwatshen’niónhkwen iokarasté:ris entsakwakaratónnion’ tsi niiakoia’tawénhseron ne iakawenhé:ion, tho se’ niionkwarihò:ten. Tóka’ se’ ónhka kwah tekèn:’en eniakononhwákten’, enionkwaieshónnion’ ne aontóhetste’ tsi niwentó:re.”

Tsorì:wa khok iah thaontesa’nikonhratihéntho’ nahsewennahnó:ton’ né: ne tsi tekaboktsherá:ke shé:kon tákene’, nok tenwatonhóntsohwe’ ne taionkwahsteríhen’ ne aietewatehrhá:rate’ aontakaiá:ken’ne’. Io’nikonhrò:kta wáhi.

Sótsi iosnó:re wahrénheie’ ne rahsennowá:nen rahiá:tons

Sewenhnì:ta tsi náhe akwé:kon ki’ ónhte wetewarihwà:ronke’ tsi rahiá:tons iosnó:re wahatóhetste’, ià:ia’k niwáhsen énska nithoién:tahkwe’, akwáh shako’nikonhrahnirá:ton nón:kwe tánon’ rakaraweiénhen.

Rarón:taks (Ojibway) Richard Wagamese, Wabesseemoong thonakerá:ton, wahahsennowáhnha’ tsi nonká:ti ne ronnonkwehón:we ratihiá:tons, sok wahrénheie’.

Poetry iewennahnotáhkhwa’ kahiatónhsera rohiá:ton, wísk nikaká:rake ne tó:ske tho niiawèn:’en, ià:ia’k nikahiatonhserá:ke ne tó:ske, tánon’ ne kahsennowá:nen Indian Horse oká:ra.

60s Scoop thotehià:ron ne Wagamese tánon’ wahawentó:ra’se’ tsi Aterónto ionteksa’tanónhnha tehotohéston. Nok tewáhsen tékeni shithoién:tahkwe’ sahatshén:ri’ tsi nihorihò:ten’ ne ojibwayhnéha.

Thó:ner tsi thatirihowanáhtha’ iahoió’ten’, sok tsi tewaterihwarenià:tha’ kahiatónhsera tánon’ tká:ra’s rarihó’kwatskwe’, raónha ki’ ne tiotierénhton onkwehón:we wa’thatén:tsha’ ne National Newspaper Award tsi rahiá:tons ne 1991 shiiohseratátie’, tánon’ tékeni ia’tká:ienhte Native American Press Association Award wa’thatén:tsha’.

Tiotierénhton novel rohiá:ton Keeper ‘n Me wa’tewatén:tsha’ ne Albert Writers Guild’s Best Novel Award ne 1994 shiiohserá:te, sok ki’ ohnà:ken sénha é:so iaháhawe’.

Kenténha shiwenhni’tò:ten takaiá:ken’ne’ ne ne raónha raoká:ra Embers konwá:iats.

Embers nón:we wahahiá:ton’ ne Wagamese, “Sewatié:rens se’ wáhi wentó:re naiakónhnheke’. Nia’té:kon kaió’tats wáhi. Wentó:re. Á:re’s ensa’nikonhrakaré:wahte’. Shikenekénhteron, wa’ka’nikonhrón:ni’ ne tóhsa tho naontià:tawen’, tánon’ shé:kon ki’ tho nontià:tawen’.
“Ón:wa wenhniseraténion kerákwas ne takkà:nerake’ nahò:ten wakentorà:se tánon’ tóhsa ákta akhá:wihte’ – wa’kerá:ko’ ne taiottsistohkwakahrhatenia’tonhátie’ aká:ton’. Tsi karonhiatátie’ wakatohetstonhátie’ tsi kónhnhe tánon’ tóka’ thé:nen tenwaka’nikonhrhá:ren’ enkátka’we’ tánon’ ienwà:sen’ne’. Ion’wé:sen ne tho ní:tsi taiontstikáhwha’ – katkehshòn:’a akwé:kon é:ren én:wehte’ nahò:ten’ tewaka’nikónhrhare tánon’ akhswathéhtshera khok eniotá:tenre’. Enkónhnheke’ tsi niió:re enwattsistohkwáhton’.”


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Daniel J. Rowe is an award-winning reporter and photographer originally from BC. In addition to journalism, he produces and edits a Shakespeare-inspired blog and podcast called the Bard Brawl. His writing has also appeared in the Montreal Gazette, Canadian Press, U.S. Lacrosse magazine and elsewhere. His facial hair rotates with the season, and he’s recently discovered the genius of wearing a cowboy hat. He wrote for The Eastern Door from 2011 to 2019.