Northern memoir tells Dene woman's story of motherhood, intergenerational trauma

An emerging northern author is sharing her personal story of struggle and resilience as a Dene woman, from childhood to motherhood.

Catherine Lafferty is launching her first book and memoir, Northern Wildflower, at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife on Saturday.

To her, putting the story on paper was an act of resistance.

“I was told that this story is going to ruin my reputation if I put it out there,” said Lafferty, explaining it was difficult to get her book published.

She said the critics who didn’t want her to publish the book were “potentially racist” and “didn’t want Indigenous voices heard.”

There are few Indigenous writers in the North who are sharing their voices, she said.

“That’s what makes this book even more important.”

The reason why I wrote this book was to help to inspire other people.– Catherine Lafferty, Author

Honouring her relatives

Lafferty was raised in Yellowknife primarily by her grandmother. She wrote the book for her, with the intent of sharing a strong, Indigenous, female voice.

The cover itself is a tribute to the women in Lafferty’s life — a picture of a wildflower her grandmother drew and her mother sewed.

Beyond its cover page, the story touches on Lafferty’s experiences as a mother, and on the difficulties she faced growing up as an intergenerational survivor of residential schools.

In one of many vividly detailed moments in the book, Lafferty describes a pivotal experience in her childhood in which she stands up to a bully, and in turn learns to stand up for who she is.

“It shows the difference before and after… of how I became kind of like, invigorated almost, knowing that I can defend myself and I don’t have to tolerate being bullied or harassed for who I am,” she said.

Lafferty hopes her story will inspire other people who may be going through the same experiences.

“Really at the end of the day, the reason why I wrote this book was to help to inspire other people,” she said.

“If this book relates to at least one person and helps them to be inspired to get out there and get an education or follow their dreams and do what they love, then I’ve accomplished my goal.”

With files from Loren McGinnis

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