Darrel J. McLeod’s Featured Book

Peyakow: Reclaiming Cree Dignity, A Memoir

“Bravo! A job well done. You, my friend, are a very good writer.” – Tomson Highway

Mamaskatch, Darrel J. McLeod’s 2018 memoir of growing up Cree in Northern Alberta, was a publishing sensation — winning the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, shortlisted for many other major prizes and translated into French and German editions. In Peyakow, McLeod continues the poignant story of his impoverished youth, beset by constant fears of being dragged down by the self-destruction and deaths of those closest to him as he battles the bullying of white classmates, copes with the trauma of physical and sexual abuse, and endures painful separation from his family and culture. With steely determination, he triumphs: now elementary teacher; now school principal; now head of an Indigenous delegation to the UN in Geneva; now executive in the Government of Canada — and now a celebrated author.

Brutally frank but buoyed throughout by McLeod’s unquenchable spirit, Peyakow — a title borrowed from the Cree word for “one who walks alone” — is an inspiring account of triumph against unimaginable odds. McLeod’s perspective as someone whose career path has crossed both sides of the Indigenous/white chasm resonates with particular force in today’s Canada.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library 

Darrel J. McLeod’s Other Book

Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

“Powerful and overdue.” – Terese Marie Mailhot

As a small boy in remote Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod is immersed in his Cree family’s history, passed down in the stories of his mother, Bertha. There he is surrounded by her tales of joy and horror — of the strong men in their family, of her love for Darrel, and of the cruelty she and her sisters endured in residential school — as well as his many siblings and cousins, and the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea. And there young Darrel learns to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that will guide him throughout his life.

But after a series of tragic losses, Bertha turns wild and unstable, and their home life becomes chaotic. Sweet and eager to please, Darrel struggles to maintain his grades and pursue interests in music and science while changing homes, witnessing domestic violence, caring for his younger siblings, and suffering abuse at the hands of his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he begins to question and grapple with his sexual identity — a reckoning complicated by the repercussions of his abuse and his sibling’s own gender transition.

Thrillingly written in a series of fractured vignettes, and unflinchingly honest, Mamaskatch — “It’s a wonder!” in Cree — is a heartbreaking account of how traumas are passed down from one generation to the next, and an uplifting story of one individual who overcame enormous obstacles in pursuit of a fulfilling and adventurous life.

Buy the Book:
Owl’s Nest Books 
Shelf Life Books

Borrow the Book from the Library:
Calgary Public Library

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