By (author): Jean-Yves Soucy

Introduction by: Romeo Saganash

Translated by: Peter McCambridge

It is 1963, Jean-Yves Soucy is 18 and looking for a summer job. He dreams of being a fire warden scanning the boreal forest from a fire tower. But to his dismay he is sent to an equipment depot somewhere between Val-d’Or and Chibougamau in Northern Quebec. His disappointment vanishes when he learns that the depot is located near a Cree community and that he will have two Cree guides, including a man named William Saganash, and his work will involve canoeing through the lakes and rivers of the region.

On each encounter with the Crees, on each of the long trips across water or through the bush, Jean-Yves expects to see a new world but realizes he?s meeting a different civilization, as different from his own as Chinese civilization. Yet he knows nothing about it. Nor does he understand the nature surrounding them as do his Cree guides, and friends.

Jean-Yves Soucy wrote this story because Romeo Saganash, son of William, insisted: &#147You have to write that, Jean-Yves. About your relationship with my father and the others, how you saw the village. You got to see the end of an era. &#148

He unfortunately passed away before completing it. However, in his poignant Afterword, Romeo Saganash provides a finishing touch to this story of an unlikely meeting of two worlds.


Peter McCambridge

Originally from Ireland, Peter McCambridge holds a BA in modern languages from Cambridge University, England, and has lived in Quebec City since 2003. He runs Québec Reads and QC Fiction. His translations have been World Literature Today Notable Translations, longlisted for Canada Reads, and finalists for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Translation.


Jean-Yves Soucy

Jean-Yves Soucy (1945-2017) was a writer, editor, publisher, journalist, scriptwriter, and mentor based in Montreal. Award-winning author of eleven books (novels, historical accounts, biographies), his writings have been translated into English, Spanish, German, Turkish, Romanian and Armenian. His books in English include Family Secrets, The Controversial & Schocking Story of the Dionne Quintuplettes (with Annette, Cécile and Yvonne Dionne) and A Summer Without Dawn with Agop J. Hacikyan.

Romeo Saganash was born in 1961 on the shores of a lake in his parents? tent near Waswanipi in Northern Quebec. Cree was the only language he heard and spoke for his first seven years before he was taken away to residential school. First Cree in Quebec to graduate in law, he served as Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Cree and was one of the principal authors of La Paix des Braves?a landmark agreement between the James Bay Cree and the Government of Quebec. He was the Member of Parliament for Abitibi-Baie James-Nunavik-Eeyou from 2011-2019.

Peter McCambridge, originally from Ireland, holds a BA in modern languages from Cambridge University, England, and has lived in Quebec City since 2003. He runs Québec Reads and founded QC Fiction, an imprint of Baraka Books. His translation of Eric Dupont’s La Fiancée américaine, Songs for the Cold of Heart, was shortlisted for both the 2018 Giller Prize and the 2018 Governor General’s Award for Translation. It has now been published worldwide, outside of Canada, by HarperCollins.


“The beauty of Soucy’s Waswanipi, so brilliantly translated by Peter McCambridge, is that it recounts in the most human of terms, the eyes of youth, an important transformation of one of Quebec?s peoples. This is a tale steeped in friendship and understanding, too seldom heard in the polarizing politics of our day.” Ian Thomas Shaw, The Ottawa Review of Books

&#147? short but very readable importance piece of historical literature (?) Soucy is adept at showing, not telling in his writing as he traverses water and land, villages and forest, contemporary white society and traditional Cree culture. He is an observer and learner.&#148 Daniel J. Rowe, Montreal Review of Books

&#147Soucy’s narrative vividly recalls a time when the traditional life–living off the land, hunting, fishing, gathering–was still possible for the Cree Community, before the residential school system and relentless extraction of resources changed everything.&#148 Julie McGonegal, (Quill and Quire)

&#147(Waswanipi is a story brimming with big ideas to be savoured slowly. Soucy demonstrates great storytelling with an impressive memory for details and the translation is expertly handled by Peter McCambridge.&#148 (The Nation (The Cree Nation News))

&#147I always had this fascination about how it was in the days to meet the Other for the first time. Young, my late Dad would tell me about his first encounters, and how he translated through those encounters the challenges to come for our people. Jean-Yves Soucy’s story and encounter with my Dad provides a charming glimpse into a changing world, for us all. &#148 Romeo Saganash, Former Deputy Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees

&#147an appeal to generosity and openness? This beautifully written?and witty?story becomes particularly significant through the encounter of two cultures, the overcoming of ignorance or distrust that separates them, and the prejudice that such ignorance can produce. &#148 Jean-Paul Beaumier, Nuit Blanche

&#147Waswanipi is summer gift to be savoured, slowly; a timeless read that is like a walk in the forest when nothing else counts. &#148 Yvon Paré, Littérature du Québec

&#147A book that feels like a movie. Romeo Saganash has written a moving afterword, thus completing the story whose author passed away before completing it. &#148 Mathieu Lavigne, Radio Ville-Marie

&#147Waswanipi is brimming with curiosity, tenderness and humanity an ode to friendship and reconciliation with our indigenous brothers and sisters. &#148 Christian Desmeules, Le Devoir


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120 Pages
8.00in * 5.00in * .28in


September 01, 2021


Baraka Books



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