Author, Carol Daniels | Image source: Inanna Publications & Education Inc.
Cree and Dene author Carol Rose Daniels latest Hiraeth (Inanna Publications), a collection of poetry, upholds the strength and resilience of First Nations and Métis women and how the impact of the Sixties Scoop ruptured a sense of belonging.
“We carry the strength of our families,” she says. Indigenous women are often the leaders, teachers and keepers, and instrumental in carrying on tradition and culture. Yet, part of why Daniels wrote Hiraeth – a Celtic word for looking to belong to a place that doesn’t exist – was a way to circle back, heal and restore.
“Anytime something may not be going in the direction which a person might desire, that can always be changed by changing attitudes and beliefs,” she says. “I never should have been taught to be ashamed of my own Indigenous roots. It’s my way of reclaiming that part of me.”
Daniels’ first book Bearskin Diary (Nightwood 2015), winner of the First Nations Communities READ Award and the Aboriginal Literature Award, explored Indigenous identity, the 60s scoop, and love. She is publishing The Narrows of Fear (Wapawikoscikanihk), a sequel to Bearskin Diary.
“It delves further into the relationships Sandy has with her biological family and how she comes to accept some darkness within those ties,” says Daniels. “There are elements of fake shamanism in the manuscript, and scenarios about homophobia, which I often see as too prevalent within our First Nations communities – a leftover legacy from Residential School when children had to deal with being raped by priests and nuns.”
As Canada’s first Indigenous woman national news broadcaster – spending the past three decades reporting for CBC, APTN, and CTV – Daniels’ has always been a poet. Language is where she looks inwards and outwards. It’s a place to face her past and present darkness, and has become a way to let go of painful memories.
“I believe that poetry is the purest form of expression within the written word. It captures moments in time like no other genre,” she says. “It can express feelings, events, ideas in a more concise way than writing a novel. Plus, I truly see everything as poetry so in that way, it wants to come out naturally.”
Hiraeth is divided into three sections – The Little People (Helpers), Whitikow (abandonment), and Kookum (spirit wisdom), which guides readers through a suite of poems. Many of the poems tackle difficult subject matter like racism, trauma, loss, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (including a poem “Angel Wings,” for Tina Fontaine), yet there is a sense of healing and love laced throughout the book. The book’s first section chronicles Daniels’ journey, which begins with traumatic aspects of her own life, and moves outward.
“Part 2 is a manifestation of how that disconnection within my childhood affected my youth and young adult years,” she says. “Part 3 is a celebration of reconnecting with culture, our Indigenous women, traditional practices and my family and language. It’s how I have felt my own personal journey has gone. But, there always seems to still be lingering feeling that something is missing.”
As a perpetual seeker, Daniels continues to search for meaning but counts her three children as her root system, and another reason why she wrote Hiraeth. As the collection is both a re-orienting, and homing, Daniels hopes readers take away their own sense of strength, beauty and resilience.
“We, as Indigenous women, have each been through some type of hardship and overcome it,” she says. “I believe that standing together as a unified voice – in any situation – is more effective and more powerful than acting in isolation. Finding a way to do this is a gift, and the time has come that it is our gift for the taking.”