Governor General's Literary Awards

Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

By Darrel J. McLeod

Douglas & McIntyre; distributed by University of Toronto Press



Mamaskatch—a Cree word used as a response to dreams shared—is a series of linked, story-like intervals that weave together Darrel and his family’s wounded lives. Their individual and collective traumas, the tragic flaws that shatter trust and dissolve relationships, the aching attempts to hold on to family and culture, the mysterious presence of birds and ancestral stories, all come together movingly in Darrel’s tender, haunting voice.

"Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age dares to immerse readers in provocative contemporary issues including gender fluidity, familial violence, and transcultural hybridity. A fast-moving, intimate memoir of dreams and nightmares—lyrical and gritty, raw and vulnerable, told without pity, but with phoenix-like strength.

Peer assessment committee: Ted Bishop, Leslie Shimotakahara, Merrily Weisbord

Darrel Mcleod
Photo: Ilja Herb


Darrel J. McLeod is Cree from Treaty 8 territory in Northern Alberta. Before pursuing a writing career, he was a chief negotiator of land claims for the federal government and executive director of education and international affairs with the Assembly of First Nations. He holds degrees in French literature and Education from the University of British Columbia. Darrel has written a sequel to Mamaskatch, which has the working title Peyakow, and is currently writing his first novel. Darrel lives, writes, sings, and plays jazz guitar in Sooke B. C. He is fluent in French and Spanish.

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