A new day dawns Review - Morningstar

A new day dawns
Reviewed by: Prairie Books NOW

Morningstar Mercredi's memoir is not easy to read, nor was her life easy to live. 'Aboriginal people, women who have been abused, will relate to it. Some will not, because they have not experienced it,' says Mercredi. 'I say thank God for them.'

Morningstar: A Warrior's Spirit shares the 43-year-old Edmonton resident's painful life journey. Her parents and grandparents were victims of residential schools, which in turn was detrimental to her own upbringing. As a child, she was sexually abused, exposed to racism, violence, drinking, and drugs, and was often left to fend for herself. It was all simply part of life, but she endured, and a true warrior's spirit emerged. Mercredi, a single parent who was worked with street women at Kindred House in Edmonton, knew she had to write her story when the sentence for three men who raped a 12-year-old Cree girl in Saskatchewan infuriated her 'I was beyond rage [at how minimal the penalties were]. A child was raped. It triggered me,' says Mercredi 'I was raped as a child. I have worked with women who live a transient lifestyle. So many people are naive and ignorant. They don't understand how a child cannot be the aggressor, how someone could choose that lifestyle. ' The trial flooded her heart with the memories of her own abuse. 'I knew I had to provide a window for others to see what led me to where I was.'

Mercredi started writing her story in August 2004. Although she had the support of others, attended spiritual ceremonies, was recovering from addiction, and had been sharing her story with others, it was still tough to write it down. 'It took everything in me to write about these events,' says Mercredi. 'I wanted to share the truth, give insight into the psyche of a child being abused.' Her objective was to examine the intergenerational impact of the residential schools -effects such as sexual abuse and addiction -through the lens of humanity and compassion, and to show how she overcame it all with the strength and spirit of a warrior.

Today, Mercredi says she has been clean and sober for over 20 years. When she has a difficult moment, she lights her sage and sweet grass and her prayers carry her through. She says she is hopeful that the cycles of abuse and pain will be broken in the future. She encourages women to continue to be strong. 'Every child has a right to their voice, every child deserves a life beyond silence and secrets every warrior needs to be honoured,' Mercredi writes in her book. But most of all, Mercredi wanted to write this story for all those who have endured similar situations and pain. 'I hope that anyone going through a similar experience can understand and appreciate that they are not alone,' she says.

Liz Katynski is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer.

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