The first sentence: "My name is Ma-nee Chacaby. I am an Ojibwa-Cree elder, and I have both a male and female spirit inside me. I have experienced a long, complicated, and sometimes challenging journey over the course of my life."
This is a book about violence and secrets. When a girl was raped in Ma-nee's community or a child was sexually abused, the victims were cautioned to keep quiet. Marital violence was overlooked. Ma-nee is blunt about the alcoholism in her village, her own alcoholism and the alcoholism, drugs and physical and sexual violence on the streets of Thunder Bay where she lived as she said, "as a bum." Pervasive racism worked to keep her there but she also received help from many kindly friends, social workers and members of her family.
The book is a first rate production with many photos and examples of Ma-nee's art work. In the excellent "Afterword," Mary Louise Plumber tells us how the book came about and its place in the broader field of indigenous literature. I was happy to see, at the end, a glossary of Ojibwe words, a list of people mentioned and a strong bibliography. A class act all round.