My Indian (Mi’sel Joe, Sheila O’Neill. Breakwater, 2021) tells the story of Mi’kmaq guide Sylvester Joe (recognized by the Government of Canada as a person of National Historic Significance) who was hired by William Cormack in 1822 to guide him across the island of Newfoundland in search of the last remaining Beothuk encampments. Written as historical fiction, it follows the historical and geographical timeline of Cormack’s journal, but seeks to reclaim the narrative by retelling Cormack’s journey from the perspective of his Mi’kmaq Guide.
In writing My Indian, the authors also seek to debunk two myths that to this day, continue to negatively impact the Mi’kmaq of Newfoundland:
- That the Mi’kmaq were brought over to Newfoundland by the French to kill off the Beothuk (known as the mercenary myth) and
- That the Mi’kmaq and the Beothuk were sworn enemies, and that there was no possibility of intermarriage.
Watch the Lecture at: My Indian: The Importance of Retelling History from an Indigenous Perspective