Well known in Canada, Metis writer Cherie Dimaline is set for big U.S. debut with this novel in July, but since it has been published in Canada to acclaim, I'm posting now.
'Empire of Wild' begins with the story of the movement and isolation of the Metis from their original lands to unwanted territory outside of Western settlements. The town of Arcand is stubborn and poor, but some cling to old traditions. Joan of Arcand has been searching for her missing husband for over a year. It was struggle to get him, an outsider, to be accepted by her family, but after a minor fight, he vanished.
Joan is without hope until she finds him in a Wal-Mart parking lot preaching in a Revival tent. The problem is, he claims to not recognize her and has a different name. Is this abandonment? Or is there something more sinister going on?
Dimaline uses the legend of the Rougarou to tell a story of love and family, but also to highlight the continued exploitation of indigenous people. Reading this sparked memories of a few stories of the "loup-garou" I remembered hearing in childhood from my father. My family has a drop or two of first nations blood, but I had thought assimilation and time had done its work and nothing had been passed down to us. I like the idea that something survived.