Three Day Road

Plot

Set in 1919, following the end of World War I, the novel takes place in the wilderness of Northern Ontario and on the battlefields of France and Belgium. Niska, an Oji-Cree medicine woman, is the remnant of her native relatives who refused to assimilate in the 19th century. She rejected European beliefs and culture and continues to thrive in the bush in a manner befitting her and her traditions. Niska’s voice is one of two narratives that complete the novel. After getting word that her closest thing to living family, Elijah, is coming back from the war, she paddles the three-day journey to meet him in town. She finds, however, that it is not Elijah but her nephew Xavier who has returned from battle. In an attempt to heal her only relative, who has clearly been sucked dry of his soul and has hardened with slaughter and turned hollow from morphine, she begins to recount the stories of her past. She believes that perhaps this will revive Xavier and the Three Day Road will not be one to his demise. Similarly, Xavier attempts to stumble over his story for his aunt and unearths ghosts of his bullet-riddled past.

The novel was inspired in part by real-life aboriginal World War I heroes Francis Pegahmagabow and John Shiwak.


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