Why write about a family at an Ojibway community in Canada?
The Matawapit Family came to me through a short story I was considering subbing to another publisher. But at the time I became very ill with a brand-spanking-new autoimmune disease LOL, so I was out of commission for a few months and missed the deadline, and also the chance of having the editor who taught the workshop to critique the story for me.
As cliché as it sounds, the one door closing and another opening rang true for me. If not for missing that opportunity, I never would have explored Emery and Darryl’s story further. But they had so much more to say.
My dad attended two Indian Residential Schools from the age of eight to seventeen. These schools enforced by the Canadian government and run by different religious institutions had a devastating impact on Canada’s native population. I wanted to look into the intergenerational trauma occurring during contemporary times. Thus, the Matawapit Family Series was born.
The Matawapits are a Roman Catholic Ojibway family who are facing great tests of their faiths. Headed by their domineering father, a deacon, Emery, Bridget, and Jude are forced to explore the many shades of grey that don’t fit within the Catholic mould.
There’s Darryl Keejik, a bitter, angry man who wants to get even with the church because he blames religion and the Indian Residential Schools for destroying his family and costing him true love with Emery.
There’s Adam Guidmond, an ex-gangbanger and recovering alcoholic who destroyed his engagement with Bridget, the love of his life, because he couldn’t kick the bottle and wound up back in prison.
Then there’s Raven Kabatay, youngest child of the notorious and very culturally traditional Kabatay family who are intent on removing religion from the reserve, and want to see an end to the Matawapit family. Nobody knows why the Kabatays hate the Matawapits so much, but there are secrets hidden deep inside the matriarch Arlene, who has taught her five adult children to despise all religion, the government, and anyone who doesn’t follow tradition.
Books one and two, Blessed and Redeemed (Emery and Bridget’s stories) are now available. I just got the critique back for Sanctified, Jude’s story, that I plan on submitting to my publisher at the end of June, once I complete the self-edits. For the month of May, I’m fast-drafting Renewed, the fourth and final book for the series.