Ever since I was a kid I have loved learning about the different cultures of Indigenous people across Canada and as I’ve grown up, I’ve become more and more heartbroken by the hardships those who live on the rez have had to deal with. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an interview with author Waubgeshig Rice about his new release, Moon of Crusted Snow. In the article, Rice describes how he “wanted to offer up the perspective of people who had experienced apocalypse already” and pay “an homage to the everyday people on reserves across Canada”.
Right from the get-go this book had me hooked. The Anishinaabe community of the novel is full of a wide range of characters, both likeable and not, prepping for the coming winter when all of their utilities go out. No electricity, no satellite, no cell service. Having never had reliable services from the get go, no one thinks twice… until two of their own return from the city and tell them what’s really going on.
On it’s own, the story is a terrifying concept alone, but the stakes are truly raised when an intimidating, survivalist, white man manages to make his way to the community and kicks them all when they’re down.
What I enjoyed most about this story is that not only is it an incredibly atmospheric end-of-the-world story, but it is a great framing of how hard life is for those in Native reserves as well as the racism First Nations peoples still face. The character, Justin Scott, even goes as far to say “the white man saves the day” as he is clearly taking advantage of the hospitality of the community.
Mixed into the everyday narrative are dream sequences and stories from the elders of the community that bring in warnings and foreshadowing from the tribe’s folklore adding an extra layer of intensity and knowledge.
This is definitely an incredible story with so many layers behind each sentence that I truly hope people pick it up and learn something from it. I look forward to the movie deal that Rice should definitely be offered for this novel.